And now what?- That is the question I asked myself many years ago after finishing up my studies. It was over, what I was doing day in and day out for the last five years, it came to an end. It was time to start my “adult” life – and that “adult” life was supposed to start getting my first job. How did I feel myself during the first days trying to get a job? – I felt I would be jobless for all my life. If like me few years ago – you are starting your journey of finding your first job, this post will help you landing on your first dream job.
First job interview
Step-by-step process for your first job interview
- CV screening
- Initial phone interview questions
- First round interview
It may sound contradictory, however, the first step in the first job interview process starts way before you attend the first interview.
All goes down to your CV – the CV you are submitting to the company you want to join.
In simple words, your CV will be screened.
There are only 2 potential options as a result of the screening
- If you pass the screening, you move to the next step – you get closer to land on your dream job. ✅
- If you do not pass the screening, you will get typical. ❌
“thank you email and encouraging you to apply later on” – you want to avoid this.
You want the job,
that is why you need to build a strong CV that will make you stand out from the crowd.
I like to imagine my CV as the outfit I would wear for a first date with my partner. 🤵
I want to be the best version of myself, so I can cause a very good first impression on my date.
Let’s imagine that my outfit is my CV, and my date is the company I would like to join.
I would try to wear the outfit that would fit me best, the outfit that would make very visible my strengths and would hide my opportunities.
The same you would do with your CV – highlight your strengths and hide your opportunities.
Remember there is only one chance to make a good first impression. Wear your best outfit.
Three tips on how to make your CV stand out from the crowd
In some companies, the CV screening is done by robots and in other companies by HR recruiters,
Following these 3 principles, your CV will stand out from the crowd
- Adapt the CV to the company you are applying for
- Avoid general answers
- Be realistic with your skills
Adapt the CV to the company you are applying for
One CV for each company you are applying for.
Do not use the same CV for all the companies.
Your CV when applying for a financial company should not be the same as the CV you would use when applying for an FMCG company.
Perform your own due diligence while preparing your individual CV
I like to differentiate between Top-level diligence and detailed-level diligence.
Understanding what the company values are, its mission and its ambition/targets in the short-midterm future.
With that information on hand, make sure the relevant wording is included in your CV.
Example: If you are applying for a position at Amazon, one of the main values of the company is that they are customer obsessed.
Thus while building your CV ensure words like customer-centric, customer-obsessed, and customer satisfaction are included in your CV
Analyze the job description of the position you are applying for and identify which keywords, terms and wordings are being used, and make sure you include them as part of the wording in your CV.
No worries if you do not have previous job experience. (it would be normal if you are applying for your first job)
You can include in your CV projects you were taking part in university, a part-time job you had during your school time… anything! 😊
Anything that would give perspective to the recruiter of the set of skills you could bring to the organization.
Net – try to include as many similar words as the ones you can see in the company values as in the job description.
Avoid general comments
I am hard-working, committed and dedicated … avoid those kinds of sentences.
These are the sentences that 90% of applicants use when applying for a job.
They do not bring any value added.
Define on your CV the specifics.
Define the specific situation, the specific actions and the outcome of your work.
If you have some numbers, figures, or percentages to show – make sure you include them.💯
Example: I was leading a project team of 10 people during my university time, responsible to organize a job fair with the top financial companies in the region.
As a result of this job fair, 5 banks joined the job fair and 35 people got an internship for the summer
Realistic with your skills
Be realistic and avoid lying about your skills and aptitudes.
You can be a little bit “creative” in the sense of slightly extending the knowledge you have on certain topics. When creative adapt your CV to the job position you are applying for.
On the other hand, be realistic if your excel knowledge is basic – state it clearly.
Do not try to fool the recruiter by saying that your excel knowledge is advanced.
You will be caught.
Sooner or later, if you say your excel knowledge is advanced and you are given a task to automate some reports with VBA and you say you do not know how to do it – you will be caught.
And if you get caught, you will be seen as someone non-reliable and eventually get your probation contract not extended.
Note: Normally, in the first contract – you are given 3 months probation period.
The working market is rather small. You want to make sure you step into the working market on the right foot.
Net – Do not lie on your CV
If you want to learn in detail how to build your perfect CV – click here.
Initial phone interview questions
Let’s assume you passed the CV screening – congrats!
The next step in the process would be going through a phone interview, normally it is Human Resources doing this part.
You can consider this a second screening phase. A more serious screening.
This phase is normally conducted by Human Resources (HR)
HR’s main purpose is to validate top-level that what is written in the CV is correct, you can communicate properly, and you are within the salary budget they have allocated for this position
normally in this phase, you do not need to go too much into the details of your achievements.
you should be ready to describe yourself, mentioning your set of skills and reasons why you would like to join that company in that position …
If you are asked to share questions and doubts you could have so far, see some examples below:
- How does the onboarding process look like?
- Which was the career path for the person prior to me in the role?
- How would you describe work-life balance in the company?
First round interview
If you are here, it means you successfully passed the CV screen and the phone interview. Good job! 😀
The real fun is about to start!
Here is where the real action is happening
There are normally three clear parts differentiated in an interview
- Introductions (interviews and yourself)
- Interview Questions
- Organizational questions
Normally interviewers will introduce themselves by mentioning their current role, how long they are in the company, and what they are looking for in the position you are applying for
After the interviewer’s introduction, it will be your turn to make your own introduction.
When building your speech intro, you should clearly define 3 main elements
- Who you are / Set of skills
- Bring relevant examples from previous experiences
- Share which skills you would be bringing to your future employer
You can find more details on how to build a strong intro here.
Use the STAR model as a method to answer interview questions
What is STAR model?
STAR is a method of responding to behavioural-based interview questions.
This method is commonly used when applying to FAANG companies (FAANG is an acronym for the five best-performing American tech stocks in the market: Meta, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet)
Each letter of the STAR model stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
While elaborating answers focus on your past or current attitudes, and your work, academic, or service experiences.
When talking about these subjects, choose specific examples to illustrate your answer.
S = Situation
Describe the Situation you were in – give as many details as possible, the Task you were asked to accomplish, the Action you took and why, and the results of your actions.
This will help the interviewer follow your “story” and see your accomplishments.
This is a series of routine questions normally asked at the end of every interview
What would be your notice period?
What would be the first date you would be available?
What would be your salary expectation?
For the first two questions – this would depend on your personal situation.
For the third question – salary expectation makes sure you do your own diligence online.
Refer to websites like glaasdoor.com, try to contact people on LinkedIn currently holding positions like the one you are after, and crosscheck with your friends how the salary is moving on the market…
NOTE: In certain recruitment processes – for example, Procter & Gamble –
there is a second-round interview prior to deciding if they will extend you an offer or not.
The dynamic of this second-round interview tends to be very similar to the first-round interview and even in some cases, you may be asked the same questions as in the prior interview.
Feel free to use the same answers to the questions as in the first round interview
Common interview questions
No matter if you are applying for a role in finance, supply chain or data science…
The principles of the questions you can expect to receive are the same across companies and industries
Your future employers will want to know about you, how you managed in past situations, and what you would do in the first days and weeks in the team.
It is important to ensure you address the questions with specific examples – avoid commenting with general statements.
Refer to the STAR model while elaborating your answers.
See below the top 10 interview questions most commonly asked in job interviews.
- How would you describe yourself?
- Describe a situation when you had to manage several priorities at once
- Describe a situation when you made a mistake
- Describe a situation when you had to manage a big amount of data in Excel
- Describe a situation when you had to decide with limited information
- Describe a situation when you had to take the lead
- Describe a situation when you influenced the decision of another person
- What would you do in your first days at work?
- Describe a situation when you disagree but are still committed
- Describe a situation when you had to explain an issue
Questions to ask during the first interview
Whenever you have an interview, try to always get as many insights as possible from people already working in the organization.
With this, you will get a most realistic picture of what to expect in case of joining the organization.
Top 10 questions to ask the recruiter at the end of the interview:
- What do you like the most about working for this company?
- Why did you decide to join this company?
- What do you like the least about working in this company?
- How would you describe work-life balance in the company?
- What is keeping you in this company?
- How would you describe the team I would join?
- Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job?
- How do you define success for this position?
- Which are the key metrics to measure the accomplishments?
- Do you have any hesitations about my skills or experience for the job?