You just graduated school! Congrats. Fortunately, you’re heading into the workforce at a particularly opportune time: Industry unemployment is low, and companies in all industries are happy to interview coders, data analysts, and other tech professionals for well-playing jobs.
But companies won’t just hand you that job—you’ll need to impress the recruiters and hiring managers who decide whether you’ll take a particular position. And that can prove tough, especially if you’re aiming for a role at a big, competitive firm. Here are some tips for facing—and acing—that first job interview:
Get Your Interview Stories Ready
Nothing succeeds like a well-told story. Interviewers like it when you can tell a tale that shows off your skills and accomplishments. For example, instead of saying, “I’m skilled in iOS development,” you could talk about the challenges and triumphs you encountered when building an iOS app in your dorm room.
Of course, it’s difficult to come up with such stories off-the-cuff; practice them well in advance of your interview, and make sure the narrative highlights your abilities and accomplishments.
Know Your Résumé
In an ideal world, you’re tailoring your résumé for each position you’re applying to (trust us, employers know when you’ve sent in the “generic” version, because it doesn’t emphasize the skills relevant to the advertised position). If there’s a downside to that, it’s that you end up with lots and lots of different résumé versions—one might highlight certain skills, while another might leave off a previous position or two.
Many interviewers use your résumé as the “spine” for their questions, so ensure you are very familiar with its every point as you head into the interview. It would be unfortunate if you ended up stumped by a bullet-point you wrote and subsequently forgot about.
Explain Why You Want This Particular Job
Hopefully, you’re competing for a particular job because something about the position excites you (if you’re really doing it just for the money, how long until you become bored?). Make sure you articulate clearly what you like about the position, whether it’s the company’s goals, its technology stack, some cool project that made the news, or some combination of things.
Know the Company’s Industry
Whatever the company you’re applying to, make sure that you know as much as possible about its business and industry. Do a little exploring on Google News beforehand; read any corporate reports you can get your hands on; and (perhaps most of all) know the company’s product portfolio inside and out.
Get Your Own Questions Ready
You know what’s incredibly awkward? When an interviewer asks if you have any questions, and you shake your head and say “no.” In the ideal scenario, you’ve researched the company, and you have some questions about its operations (as well as your potential role)—don’t be shy, ask away! Recruiters and hiring managers really like it when you ask questions; it shows you’re engaged and interested (and not wasting their time).