First Interview


It is all about first impression, you better get it right.

Your goal in the first interview is to get a job offer or move up to a second interview. At this point in time you are normally competing with less than 5 other candidates. They like your CV and they can imagine you coming to work. 3 more steps to go

  1. Prepare for it – have all of your ticks crossed
  2. Stay cool during it – just a walk in the park
  3. Close the deal and get out

Preparing for the interview.

Lots of stuff to prepare for your first interview so will start from the beginning.

Research, Research, Research!

Here are some of the things you want to know before going to the interview

  • What is the position offered and how do you match the requirements for the role.
  • Company information – impress them with knowledge about their company number of employees, value of the stock, company history, company market.
  • Answers to questions you just know they are going to ask you
  • Questions you want to ask them
  • Your salary expectation – do your research

You can request that the names and titles of the people who will be attending the phone interview will be provided prior to the interview. It will give you time to find out who they are on the company website or on Linkedin. It will also make it easier for you to remember their name if you prepared for it.

Plan your trip

I usually take a drive to the interview area a day before at the same time the interview is scheduled to calculate the route, traffic and when do I need to get out the next day so I won’t be late on the interview day.

What to wear?

Dress for the part you are about to take.

Funny as it sounds but overdressed or underdressed might kill your chances in the interview. A consultant engineer I know failed an interview and got a second chance for a second interview a couple of years later for the same position and the dress made the different. Luckily the recruiter feedback prior to the second interview was that he was overdressed as the position was offered on site and a suit and a tie will not be suitable. Quick change of clothes and the job was his.

If you are not sure what to dress, ask!

Ask the recruiter, your colleagues or even the internet. In any case make sure you are clean shave, professional look, well dressed, clean clothes and not too colorful as you are not going to a party.

Even go to the mall in the mid-week when the saleswomen are not too busy and tell them you have an interview for a certain position and as for their recommendation. Aussies are nice people and they will give you great idea.

On the day of the interview

Make sure you have the following:

  • Pen
  • Paper to write on
  • Your preparation notes
  • Clothes to suit the interview
  • Clear instruction of how to get there and who to contact
  • Your mobile
  • Identification card (your driver license or a passport)

On the company premises

Introduce yourself to the admin worker and provide her with the interviewer details, normally you will be asked to wait until your interviewer comes to pick you. At this point it is a good time to pick up a company magazine and learn some more about the company. It also shows you have an interest in the company and it is better than you playing on your mobile. At some point your interviewer will introduce himself, shake his hand and say “John Smith, nice to meet you”. At this point you will be showed to the interview room. Sit down where you are asked or choose a sit in the middle of the table where you can have eye contact with all attendees.

The interview starts

There would be two to three people in the interview room. The HR Rep, senior employee, a manager or both. You will be introduced to them. Shake their hand and be polite. Once the courtesy ended sit down and LISTEN!

Don’t try to control the interview or ask questions as the interview is pre-planned and you will be simply asked questions. Firstly, the interviewer shall confirm in brief the details on your CV which he has interest in. Pay attention to them as the remaining of the CV has no interest to them or they missed crucial information from your CV. In either case, it will give you a feedback on how your CV is read and understood. This part normally takes 5-10 minutes.

Tell us about you…

Sometimes you will be asked to tell about yourself and what are you seeking. Make sure you aim the answer to the job description. In this part you are also being reviewed about your English, the way you handle yourself and in general how you come about to the people on the other side of the table. This part normally takes 1-2 minutes

The technical part

At this point the conversation will usually become technical for about 15-30 minutes. Assuming you are applying for something you know, this is the easy part. Be positive and honest. If asked something you don’t know, try to stir the conversation to what you do know. Don’t lie, one little lie is enough to break your credibility and end your chances to a job.

So what do you do after hours?

It can’t be all about work. Australians love their hobbies and leisure time and they want to make sure you have more than just work in your life. It is important to mention friends, hobbies, music, culture, sports you practice. I once spent 30 minutes talking about motorcycles in an interview. We hardly spoke about my work but the boss thought it would be fun to have more motor enthusiast people in the office.

As much as you love your leisure time, if someone starts telling a story about his hobbies, let it be. It means you are doing well and becoming like a colleague, normally integration in their conversation.

Has it been 5-15 minutes? Time to slow down and let the interview move forward.

Have you got any questions to ask us?

Sure you do! You prepared them in advance plus all those questions you wanted to ask before but didn’t want to interrupt the interview so far.

Ask and then listen patiently.

Closure – end of the interview

At some point the interviewer will say something like “Thanks John, I guess we have all we need. It was great talking to you; we will make our decision and get back to you”. That is the sign to say “Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from your again”. Usually they will respond with one last “thank you and goodbye”. You will be left in the room with the interviewer who will show you to the exit. Make sure you shake his hand and greet him goodbye and walk off without looking backwards.

DONE – if it feels good, it was good. Go have some fun and relax for a while, now we wait….

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