Have you sent your resume and cover letter to your favorite companies to apply for an internship, a summer job or a first job? Now, how do you prepare and succeed in a job interview? It is an opportunity for recruiters to meet you, to ask you questions about your background, your experiences, to understand your interest in their organization, to test your skills and to test you to see if your personality fits the position to be filled. Preparing well for your interview also allows you not to be too stressed on the day and to give a good impression to your interviewer. Here are 10 key steps to be in the right conditions for a job interview.
1# Learn about the company
What are the company values and culture? What do you remember about its mission? What is its history? Who is your future employer? Who is the person you will meet? What is their role in the organization? Learning about the company and the person you are meeting will allow you to arrive at the interview with the keys in hand. You will be able to answer questions such as "Do you know what we do?" and "Why are you interested in our company? You will also be able to prepare questions to go deeper into topics you would like to explore.
2# The outfit. How to dress?
For a telephone or video interview, the question is less relevant, but for a face-to-face interview, it is still advisable to be properly dressed. Even if the suit and tie is no longer mandatory in most companies, the first impression is what the recruiters will see as soon as you arrive, and that is your outfit. So, avoid dirty sneakers, jeans with holes or a wrinkled shirt. Also, find out beforehand about the dress code of the sector of activity for which you are applying, because in certain sectors such as banking, consulting, or luxury, dress is important.
3# The description
During an interview, you will probably be asked to introduce yourself. What will you answer to this famous request: "tell me about yourself"? To guide you, here are some tips!
Tell us about yourself and your current situation: "My name is [...], I am a [...] student and I need to do a 6-month internship to complete my year", "I have just finished my studies and I am looking for my first job in [...]".
Briefly present your educational background and the two or three key experiences that have marked you and that are related to the company you are applying for. Just avoid repeating word for word sentences from your cover letter, the recruiter will surely already have it in front of him ;)
You can finish by explaining the reasons that made you want to apply to them.
Be concise, the recruiter will then build on what you have said with interview questions.
And the takeaway tip !
Talk about the experiences you are proud of and don't be afraid to be confident when you talk about them. Self-confidence reflects a positive image and you have every reason to be proud to talk about it!
4# Prepare examples to illustrate
The recruiter will then want to know what your skills and strengths are for the position. Prepare to argue each skill that makes you the ideal person for the position by illustrating them. Indeed, the recruiter will need to understand what you put behind each of your skills.
👉 Here is an example: "I have very good interpersonal skills. I realized this during a 2-month sales internship where I was totally in my element to advise customers, put them at ease, make them laugh. It also allowed me to be more open and develop my empathy."
5# Talk about your weaknesses
Among the questions asked, you may be asked in an interview to talk about your weaknesses. No one is perfect, so you certainly have some under your hat! However, beware of certain weaknesses that could be detrimental to you! For example, telling the recruiter: "I'm always late" or "I have trouble motivating myself to work", is not a good way to sell yourself.
What will be appreciated is if you talk about your weaknesses and show that you have thought about a solution. For example:
- "I tend to fail to prioritize my tasks and I need someone to help me do that first and then organize myself."
- "I lack a certain skill to do the job and I want to learn from you to develop it"
- "I am afraid of public speaking. I am not closed to the exercise and if I have to do it, I would need to train or be accompanied to succeed.
6# Prepare questions to ask
During the interview, a recruiter will show interest in you and ask you several questions. You too, do the same! The interview is a moment of exchange and it is normal, even important to be curious to understand the position, what you will be asked to do, what your working conditions will be, your hours, your salary.
💡 If you are interested in working for an organization committed to social and environmental impact, you are also entitled to dig into the subject to understand how the commitments communicated are concretely translated into the company!
7# Projecting yourself in the organization
To express your motivation during the interview and to stand out, you can think about the projects you would like to implement in the organization. If you have a specific career plan, you can also tell the company that you would like to join them in line with this plan.
👉 Here is an example "I would like to apply for this internship in an association to understand its functioning and culture in order to pursue studies to become a manager of a social and solidarity enterprise."
8# Train with family and friends or a coach
In order to be prepared and to limit the stress before a first interview, you can ask your friends and family to do a mock job interview. Take the opportunity to ask them to give you feedback on the content of your answers and also on your body language and non-verbal communication. You could repeat words like "so", "uh" or have a nervous attitude that shows up in your body language by touching your hair a lot for example. Becoming aware of this, through feedback from those around you, will allow you to work on it. Using a job coach to practice and get some tips can also help!
9# Concluding the interview
At the end of the interview, the recruiter will normally tell you what the next steps in the recruitment process are. Don't hesitate to ask questions about when the person will contact you again and details about the next steps if you have not been given any.
10# 3 things to remember when going to the interview
Calculate your travel time to get there, set two alarm clocks if necessary, but don't be late, punctuality is appreciated in interviews. Ideally, try to be there at least 5 minutes before the interview starts. Arriving 30 minutes early is not necessary either, and if you do, sit in a café or take a walk while waiting to knock on the door.
If you overdo it, if you lie, you risk getting caught in your own trap. Besides, if you lack skills, it's okay! For an internship or a first job, you are not asked to know everything, you are also there to learn. You can explain to the recruiter that you want to join his company to develop this or that skill.
And all this with a smile !
Your posture and your attitude will also have an influence on the course of the interview. A smile is very communicative and sends good vibes. Easier said than done? With a good preparation of your interview, you will already be more relaxed and everything should go well!