Young woman in first job interview

How to Succeed in Your First Job Interview


Congratulations! An employer called you to schedule a job interview…. now what?

Whether you’re still in high school, or a recent high school grad, keep reading to find out what interviews are all about, and what you can do to succeed in your first job interview!

By the time an employer starts scheduling interviews, they’ve already looked at many applications and resumes, and they’ve selected a few people they think will probably do the best job. That’s where the interview comes in. Job interviews are how the employer decides which single person will be the best choice.

Succeed in your first job interviewWhen you get a job interview, it may be over the phone, or it may be in person. And, it might actually be both! Many employers will want to talk to you over the phone first, and then if they like what they hear, they’ll schedule an in-person, face-to-face interview.

So, what does it take to succeed in a job interview? Whether it’s over the phone or in-person, you need to convince the employer of two basic things:

  1. You’ll be a good employee and a nice person to work with, and
  2. You have the skills needed for the job.

Keep reading to learn how to accomplish that in your job interview!

Be On Time for the Interview

  • Being on time for your job interview is very important! This will be one of the ways the employer judges how reliable you’ll be if they hire you.
  • Being on time means arriving at the front desk before the interview time. If the interview is at 2:00 p.m., then you need to show up at 1:45 p.m.

2. Be Clean and Well-Groomed

Dress for success
Graduates from our MYWay Program,
ready for their first job interview!
  • No jeans, no t-shirts, no sneakers, no shorts, and no hats!
  • Guys should wear nice slacks, a nice shirt with a collar, and nice dress shoes. If it’s an office job, you should wear a necktie.
  • Girls should also wear nice slacks or a skirt (not too short!), a nice blouse, and dress shoes.
  • Do not wear too much after-shave, cologne or perfume.
  • Girls should not wear too much makeup, and guys should shave, or trim their beard and mustache.
  • Your hair should be clean and combed.
  • Finally, make sure your fingernails are clean. That’s actually very important!

Be Courteous and Friendly


  • Be friendly and say hello to anyone you meet at the work site, whether it’s the receptionist or someone you meet in a hallway—but especially the interviewer!
  • Smile! A smile is very important, and will make a great first impression. Even if you’re talking on the phone, a smile will brighten your voice and make you sound friendly and positive.
  • When meeting your interviewer, be sure to shake his or her hand hand – a firm shake with good eye contact.
  • Say please and thank you. That should be a no-brainer!

Be a Good Communicator

  • Speak clearly, and use correct grammar – no slang!
  • Part of being a good communicator is being a good listener – don’t interrupt!
  • If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
  • Think before you speak. Although you want to be open and honest in your interview, you should avoid talking about personal or financial problems.

Be Qualified for the Job

  • Be prepared to talk about how your skills and experience will help you to be good on the job. That means you need to read the entire job description to see what they’ll be expecting you to do.
  • Look through the company website so you can have general knowledge of what the company does, and what it’s products or services are. Showing familiarity with the goals and ideals of the industry or company will show your enthusiasm and desire to be a part of the team. Being able to demonstrate that knowledge in the interview will show your willingness to be invested in the job, and it will also show a hard work ethic – both those things will help the employer envision you working at their company!

Be Interested in the Job

young woman in job interview

  • Sit up in your chair, don’t slouch—even if you’re on the phone. Slouching makes you feel “lazy,” and that will come through in your attitude.
  • Look at the interviewer when speaking to them.
  • Don’t act bored or distracted by fidgeting, playing with your hair, or tapping your fingers. (You should read our article about body language.)
  • Stay off your phone during the interview – no calls, no texts, no Snapchat, no Facebook. You should also make sure the sound and ringtone are turned off; don’t even have it on vibrate. You’re there to talk to the interviewer, not your friends!
  • Show interest in the job by asking questions such as:
    • What would a typical work day be like?
    • What are some of the short-term and long-term goals for this position?
    • How will my performance be measured?
    • What types of people are successful here, and what skills do they possess?
  • Show interest in staying with the company. You can do this by asking what opportunities there will be for learning new skills, that might allow you to advance into a better job.
  • At the end of the interview make sure to tell your interviewer that you really want that job, and ask what the next steps will be in the interview process.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to thank them for the interview!

Acing Your First Job Interview

job interview success

A job interview can feel a little like taking a test: you need to be prepared, and you’re going to answer a lot of questions. But, there’s no need to feel nervous about it.

The only reason the employer asks all those questions is to make sure they hire the right person for the job. Every person they interview will have to answer those same questions, it’s not just you!

Your part of the job interview is to present yourself as competent and qualified for the job, and as a person the employer would like to have on their team. If you follow the instructions we’ve given in this article, you’ll be on your way to making a great impression in your first job interview!

Note: this article is the third in a series of articles aimed at helping young people start and manage their careers. The last article was about How to Apply for Your First Job.

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