As a new generation begins to enter the workforce, the art of the job interview has changed significantly. As we are now have made Zoom interviews the norm, the concerns that candidates have about interviews have shifted. While we may prioritize our concerns about whether to keep our cameras on or how to convey our emotions through a screen, there are still some aspects of the interview that have not changed since I had my first job interview almost a decade ago.
I was 15 when I had my first job interview at a local insurance office in South Carolina, and I did not prepare for it as well as I should have. I felt completely wrecked with nerves. While I fumbled through the entire thing, the experience taught me a lot about interviewing for a position. Here are three things I learned from my first job interview that are still relevant today.
1. Act confident, even if you’re not.
I went into my first job interview completely overwhelmed with nerves. The woman interviewing me took note of this and told me not to be so nervous. I was met with an embarrassed feeling that only made me feel more nervous. The next time I went on a job interview, I made sure to at least act confident in myself and my answers.
I had to keep reminding myself, “The worst thing that can happen is that I don't get this job.” I felt calmer and more grounded in my responses when I pretended to be confident, so I completely avoided that icky embarrassing feeling that I felt on my first job interview. Even in virtual spaces, confidence is important. If you have a shaky voice and uncertainty in your answers, it will still be conveyed online, so it is important to act confident even when you are faking.
2. Prep at least two questions for the interviewer.
While this may seem like an obvious one, I did not know this when I went on my first job interview. I had no questions prepared for the interviewer. When she asked me if I had any questions about the company or the job, I simply said, “No thanks.”
The look on her face said it all. I was supposed to have questions prepared. I stumbled trying to think of something in the moment and blurted out something that I already knew the answer to. Ever since then, I have always made sure to have at least two well-thought-out questions prepared for an interviewer, no matter what. This shows the person interviewing you that you took time to research the company and the position, meaning that you take the interview seriously.
3. Keep your best interests at heart and stand up for yourself.
The job posting for my first job interview was for a $10/hour receptionist position. At the conclusion of my interview, I was offered the job of a personal assistant at $7.50/hour. I did not want this job as it was not what was advertised, but I didn’t stand up for myself or my best interests and I took the job anyway. I spent five years in that role being unhappy before I took the opportunity to leave. The sad fact is that there are still people out there who may take advantage of employees, especially young and seemingly desperate ones, so it is imperative that we protect ourselves from this by voicing our concerns.
Despite our ever-changing landscape, I have found that what I learned on my first job interview is still applicable and important today. When Zoom-interviewing for my current job, I made sure to be confident, ask questions, and stick up for myself, which resulted in a successful job interview and securing a position that I am happy in.