Your first serious career move is always stressful, but if you want to succeed, follow these critical job interview tips.

Not everyone heads to college knowing exactly what they want to do for a career. You might not even know what you want to do for a career at graduation! Despite this, each of us still has to pay rent, eat, and occasionally take the time to relax with friends. To do any of those things, we’ve got to work.

If the low-paying job where you’re doing the same thing day in and day out is not working out for you, it’s going to take some interviewing talent to land in a decent career. Admittedly, there are some opportunities out there in the trades that are pretty sweet gigs. But to get into something a little safer and down to earth, you have to be ready to interview. Sad to say, getting even an entry-level job just isn’t as easy as it used to be. Stick with me because I’m about to give you the five best job interview tips that will open doors to a great job.

The Best Job Interview Tips to Get Hired Today

Relax a little; you’re in good hands. I’m actually a hiring manager myself, so I know what employers are looking for on the other side of the table. Or webcam. Or whatever. The point is that there’s a lot of nonsense out there about how to get hired and present yourself in an interview. Most of the time, it’s just going to distract you and come off as phony. So what should you do?

Here are the five best job interview tips I’ve come across. A lot of these stand out as reasons why I’ve hired zoomers with no experience. And when I think of the work they’ve done, I’ve got no regrets.

1. Let your personality shine

Be Genuine! It’s a bit of a cliche, I know, but seriously, you’ve got to do this. Number one requirement, bar none. If you can’t put anything about your personality in the interview, there is no shot you’re going to get the job. Nevertheless, don’t overdo it, either, because you want to respect your interviewer.

2. Tell them how you contributed to past employers and teams

Almost every question you’ll get asked in an interview is about the past. Something about your experience (if you have it), or something about activities you’ve done in school. If you don’t have experience in the field you’re applying for, you might get asked about your first job in another field.

Whatever you’re asked, try to pivot to how you made actual contributions on your last team. You improved inventory management in the parts locker, and that saved the company money. Or, you sold more shoes than anyone else, which increased store revenue. Maybe you were able to solve more service requests by finding common faults. Sure, you’re interested in how much money you’ll earn. Just remember, the interviewer is interested in how much you will contribute to their team.

3. Stay positive about your life and experiences

No one has ever had a perfect job. We all have something that we can complain about. If a hiring manager is asking you questions about things that you didn’t like at your old job, be careful. Be honest, but try to frame things as positively as you can. If you tell me your boss, coworkers, and customers were horrible, the interview ends there. If you say the workplace was challenging and helped you grow in these ways, you’re hired.

Be positive. Building on the previous point, you can take nearly any negative question and turn it positive. For example, there’s a great way to respond to “describe your least favorite coworker you’ve ever had.” Answer with some traits the boss wouldn’t like, such as showing up late or not giving a full effort. Then, describe how that impacted you and the team as a whole. Then, close out by saying how it taught you to be a better team member

4. Be motivated

Formal job interviews have a few parts. While the first is trying to find your red flags, the second is gauging your interest. If you’re putting out low energy at the interview, then it’s a no-go. Let’s face it: trying to get your first career job means you don’t have relevant experience. This lack of experience can be an issue for employers because they know it means you’ll need a lot of training. They’re not wrong, but in the interview, you can give them some peace of mind. Show them you’re motivated to do the best job possible!

Trying to get into scientific research? Talk about the exciting internship you did and that independent study program. Trying to get into finance? Talk about your experience organizing a fundraiser for a university organization. Emphasize your part-time work and how you had to learn that from scratch. You might not feel like you have much on paper, but dig deep and make sure to offer something!

5. Practice, practice, practice

Practice the interview. Hiring managers know there’s a big difference between doing the interview well and doing the job well. As a result, you don’t have to be an amazing interviewer to get the job. Nevertheless, you’ve got to show that you know how to interact as an adult in a workplace. We can excuse some stumbling, but if you can’t express yourself comfortably at all, you’ll get a hard pass.

Take the time to practice answering basic interview questions. It’s nice to practice with friends, but for the best feedback, roleplay it with a professor or older family friend. In person. Roleplay out loud. Record yourself and play it back to find your weak points. Most likely, the interviewer will have a few years on you, so get used to the idea. The best football practice happens on the field, and it’s the same with interviewing.

Final Job Interview Tips

Have at Least Three Questions to Ask

Bring your curiosity to the interview. I’m not interested in someone who’s not interested in my organization. So, ask a few questions that are related to the company. Ask why it has expanded to a recent location, ask what kind of clients are best for the business, or ask what my favorite part of working here is. You can also ask me what qualities I’m looking for in an employee. Remember that list of basic interview questions we linked to? Steal a few of those and turn it back around on the interviewer. In my experience, showing curiosity is one of the best signs of a good worker.

Dress Better Than the Position Requires

In reality, a job interview is like a first date. Even if you don’t always dress up for someone you’re with, you always look sharp on the first date. Treat the job interview the same way. Does the job call for jeans and a polo? Wear slacks and a button-down to the interview. Do they want slacks and a button-down at your desk? Bring a tie and blazer to the interview.

Practice Self-Care

Interviews can be stressful, especially if the one you’re going to is your ticket to the career you want. Stress makes people do strange things and self-sabotage, like not eating breakfast or drinking too many cups of coffee. If you come to the interview hyper-tense and shaking, you’re not getting the job. Walk off your nerves, drink water, eat enough, and get as calm as you can. Even if you don’t get the job, the interview is good practice and can still get you closer to your goal.

Take these tips to heart and try to work them in for your next interview. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and land the perfect job on the first try. Or maybe you need to interview at ten different companies before you find one that’s a good fit. No matter what you do, keep putting yourself out there, and sooner or later, something good’s coming your way.


  • Christopher Gallagher

    Christopher Gallagher is a business manager and freelance writer with a BA degree in history. Christopher has traveled extensively and has lived across the American east, south, and west. Christopher is an expert culinarian and enjoys camping. His writing includes history, banking and insurance, and retirement planning, among other topics.