How to Ace the First Interview

by Bethany Williams

Ace Job Interview

This is your first interview and you have an opportunity to shine with the potential to land the position that you desperately want. Now what? Start by gathering as much information as they will give you prior to the interview. Who will you be meeting with? What are their roles? How will the process go?

Prepare and Research Well for This First Interview

Homework, preparation and research are going to position you better than your competition. Research the company, the senior leadership team, the financials, stock performance (if it is a public company), press releases and pertinent company information. Print out your research and begin making a folder, organizing and collating the information for easy access. Research the biographies of the people that will be interviewing you. Google them to try to locate personal information, boards that they serve on or marathons that they've run, etc. It is important that you do your homework if you want to ace this first interview.

If you were to get an opportunity at the position, what would your first 90 days look like? Map out some ideas and sketch out a 90 day plan.

Be Ready to Discuss Your Past Experiences

Many interviews now concentrate on your past experiences. How you have reacted to situations in the past show how you may perform and react in the present and future. Write out some ideas of experience for the following interview questions:

  • Talk about a situation where you've had to get a team to rally around and support an unpopular idea that you had.
  • Tell me about a goal that you had to achieve and how you reached it.
  • How have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker?
  • Tell me about a mistake that you made and how you handled it?
  • Explain an ethical dilemma that you came across and how you resolved it.

These behavioral interviews focus on your past experiences. It is helpful to have some ideas jotted down for reference. Think about your favorite work experience to date, what was it about that job that you loved? Jot down those characteristics, they may help you in the interview.

Don't Stress Out, Be Yourself

Try not to stress yourself out. The company that you are interviewing with is exploring options for hiring YOU, not someone else that you are trying to be. Relax and be yourself. Relaxing will be easier if you practice and prepare for what you will say. Practice out loud in front of a video camera or a mirror. If you have a friend that agrees, you could practice over Skype in front of your computer and get instant feedback.

Your first interview will be great. Good luck.

Bethany Williams is an expert in business development, personal branding, and healthcare operations. She has held high level positions at a big four accounting firm, Perot Systems Corporation, GE Healthcare, and IDX Systems Corporation. Williams shares her stories and helpful tips on career success in her book, Winning Strategies for Women, and a popular motivational blog. She volunteers as a life coach and mentor for employees around the globe through her website and personal one-to-one visits. She currently works as an executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and speaks on branding, career planning, and women in business. She lives in Dallas with her husband, Michael, and her three children. You can find her on the web at

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