A Fresh Graduate’s Very First Interview: What She Expected and What Actually Happened

Hania Warsi January 24, 2012 10

The alarm goes off; I wake up groggily, wondering why I would schedule an alarm for 10 am on my day off. Suddenly, I remember, it was interview day. My first ever interview for a possible job opportunity, which I found through gradberry. I wake up, a little excited, a little nervous, and very much wanting to go back to sleep.

However, I reminded myself about the numerous things on my wish list, ranging from a Ferrari to a Mac Book and how unwilling my parents were to buy me any of those. This meant I had to cover my own expenses, which meant I needed to earn my own money, which meant I needed a job. (Don’t get me wrong though.. money is not my only motivation..umm.. I have other motives too…) Keeping this in mind, I scrambled out of bed and got ready for my interview. On the way there, I engaged myself in a make believe conversation with the employer, listing down all my achievements in life. Unfortunately, that list ended almost as soon as it began.

Before I had time to stress myself out, I was entering the front door of the office. As soon as I entered, I was greeted by a friendly receptionist, who immediately put me to ease. I was asked to take a seat and wait for my turn. I smiled at everyone around me, constantly. Perhaps it was out of nervousness or sub consciously I was trying to gain extra brownie points, by trying to seemingly appear friendly and adaptable. Realizing, I probably didn’t look serious just sitting and smiling at random people, I decided to engage with my Blackberry. I appeared calm and collected but was frantically BBM-ing my friends about how nervous I was about the interview.

Soon it was my my turn so with a confident walk and an artificially glued on smile, I entered the office to be greeted by two interviewers. My first instinct was, damn, which one of these am I supposed to please first? Before I could decide, I found myself in a question and answer session; some of their questions were expected, while some of them threw me off track; the trick was, to look at the interviewer in the eye and pretend you knew what you are talking about. The expected questions included:

-What do I know about the company?

-Why would I want to work in the company

-What are my expectations from the company?

The unexpected questions included:

-Where do I see myself in 5 years? I hadn’t thought about that at all, my first instinct was to say ‘married with kids’ but I realized that wouldn’t sound too ambitious. Instead, I went a little overboard and perhaps exaggerated my ambition more than necessary: I said I see myself as the director of the company.

-Would I be willing to give my whole self to the company, in terms of time and commitment? I wasn’t sure how to answer this, I mean I did love my free time and don’t function well without 10 hours of sleep. I answered (rather half-heartedly) ‘I am a very committed, motivated person who will do anything to get the job done’.

-Do I have any questions? I didn’t. I should have had a couple of questions, but I didn’t. I completely blanked out and my brain just refused to co-operate; luckily out of sheer desperation, I managed to construct a question which they actually liked. “What’s a day in the life of a person working in this position like?”) Genius much? I think so too.

So after what I thought was a seemingly decent interview, I left the room, making sure to give them a hopeful glance, hoping this would add some pressure on them to hire me. Driving back, I realized, this interview had made me more confident and prepared me for other interviews which I might be giving in the future. A few pointers to take into consideration would be:

-Do detailed background research on the company and their current happenings/news

-Be sure about each fact mentioned in your CV (and for God’s sake, don’t lie)

-Be calm, collected and think before answering the questions- speak slowly as that will buy you some time to think

-Don’t be over enthusiastic but don’t appear uninterested either

-Smile- especially if you have nice teeth; if nothing else, at least you will be seen as orally hygienic

-Think of the interview as a semi formal conversation between you and your ‘new’ friend- just be yourself, without revealing the not so attractive traits you possess

-Don’t go shopping immediately after the interview, thinking that next month’s salary will cover your lavish spending; you might not get the job

My very first interview probably wasn’t a complete success, but it was definitely a learning experience. So, don’t be disheartened when an interview doesn’t directly lead to a job. You’ll definitely do better in your next one, especially if you take some of my advice ;). Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    Interview in a nutshell: “Think of the interview as a semi formal conversation between you and your ‘new’ friend- just be yourself, without revealing the not so attractive traits you possess.”
    You want him to like you but don’t embellish the truth so much that they realise you were lying once they hire you.

  • Meenaz :)

    your first interview seems nice.. mine was a disaster! i froze and forgot all the university activities i had listed on my CV.. when they asked me to explain more on that.. i just could not remember the exact points that were the core substance of the projects! more over, you must always have a good understanding of your subjects if you are in a field that requires basic knowledge of the topic.. reading current articles and news is necessary too.. not all interviews ask basic questions we keep hoping to hear and prepare for..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=192000477 Iba Masood

    Great feedback and advice guys, keep it coming :D

  • Hania Warsi

    @ Meenaz: Yes I agree, so important to be updated with the current news/happenings around the world as well the field of interest. Now that you mentioned, I just remembered, they too asked me if I am updated with any current news and the only thing that came in my mind was, “Yeah, I think Beyonce just had a baby girl a few weeks back” :| I had enough sense not to mention that though :)

  • http://youtern.com Dave Ellis – YouTern

    Great advice Hania!

    You covered the essentials for almost any interview… if every interviewee follows your directions they’d have a great head start on an interview. I’d add that “informational interviews” are a great way to get interview practice, without the added do-or-die stress of the real thing. It’s a very under-utilized resource, in my estimation.

    • Hania Warsi

      Thank You Dave! :)

      I do agree that informational interviews are a great tool and those should be the first step in the recruitment process for any job process- before moving to other interviews with more concrete and specific questions.

  • http://twitter.com/Hees0 Haitham M

    AMAZING article Hania, thank you!

    • Hania Warsi

      Thank YOU, for taking the time out to read it and the feedback! :)

    • Hania Warsi

      Thank YOU Haitham, for taking the time out to read it and the feedback! :)

  • Gracezyl Blanco

    oh God, also remembered my first ever job interview (I did not get the job though) but yes, first interviews don’t necessarily land you directly on the job, but you get to learn a lot from it especially when it comes to handling them. But really, I don’t like “what are your expectations in the company” kind of questions.. You just can’t answer that with a clear picture when you’re still looking for a first job.