First Job Interview Questions for Students: 12 You’ll Get, and How to Answer Them
First job interview questions are always a tad different when it is clear you are about to enter the workforce or have limited experience. Employers come to the table with a different set of expectations from you. Realistic expectations. It is important you follow suit by not expecting too much in way of pay, benefits, and time off. After all, responsibilities won’t go as deep, but you will have some opportunities to build your resume and move up the ladder, if not at the hiring company at some future place of employment.
In a recent article published on Inc. Magazine’s website, business owner Candice Galek gives an informative rundown for what questions employers should ask when hiring workers who’ve never held jobs before. In the following article, we’ll be going through each of the questions that Galek presents from the student perspective.
How should you best answer these questions? That’s what we want to get down to so that when your time comes for that first job interview, you’ll know how to put your best foot forward. Let’s begin!
1. Are you a member of any clubs or do you play any team sports?
Employers generally ask you this question for two reasons: they want to get a sense of how well you play with others, and they want to give you a chance to show your stuff.
To answer this question effectively, you have to start by getting involved in clubs, organizations, or athletics that you enjoy. Something where you’ll feel like an active part.
Don’t assume that any club is too ridiculous or too unapplicable. Be prepared to share your passion and competence for the activity in your answer.
2. What volunteer experience have you had?
Some people aren’t designed for football or FBLA or Beta Club. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean they’re without options. If you cannot find something that gets you going at school — or if you can and really just want to maximize your impact outside of that organizational structure — see where you can get involved.
Boys & Girls Clubs, nonprofit organizations in your community, and church activities are all great places to start. Church, in particular, can work to your advantage at this stage even if your employer is not friendly to religion. That’s because, even if the employers don’t go to church regularly themselves, they understand you’re in a position where you are formulating belief systems. They view church volunteer activities as a good barometer for how much you’re willing to make a difference.
3. What are your favorite things to do after school?
This could be a volunteer activity, a school-based extracurricular activity, or it could be a hobby that you feel strongly enough about that it could one day become a career path. You don’t want to say, “Nothing,” unless you can lay out a pretty strong case that you’re active and engaged enough during the school day that you’ve “earned” the downtime.
4. What does your schedule look like?
This question will show how organized and productive you are. If you can lay out a sensible schedule to illustrate how you balance all your time and activities, then it sends the message that you’ll be a productive employee. Don’t hesitate to lay it out hour by hour.
5. Do you have reliable transportation?
Employers ask this because they want to know that if a catastrophe strikes, they can depend on you to come in and help fill out the shift. Don’t assume it’s a mark against you if you’re yet to own a car. Provided you have access to transportation that is reliable — a friend, older sibling, or parent who can take you — you should be just fine.
6. Can you give me an example of a time you faced a difficulty in school and how you overcame it?
This question is a blessing to the first-time job seeker because it allows you to illustrate problem-solving skills and experience in place of the absent work experience. It’s also great because school is riddled with challenges for you to face head-on and overcome. Remember when answering, though, that your employer wants details. Be prepared to tap into your storytelling skills to make the interviewer feel what was at stake and how specifically you overcame it.
7. Have you decided on a college major yet?
Again, it’s not a mark against you if you haven’t decided yet, but be ready to show that you’ve given it some thought. You might say something like, “I haven’t decided yet because I’m pretty enthusiastic about two different paths and I’m still exploring the path that will lead to the kind of future that I want.” Then, share what those paths are and how they’re luring you.
If you already have a major, it can work to your advantage provided the major is something somewhat universal in skill sets — something that would apply to the position you’ve applied to but that could cross over to other careers as well.
8. Why did you choose this major?
Honesty is the best policy here. Don’t just say, “Because my grades are good at it.” While that may be true, you want to focus in on some specific aspect of the major that fits particularly well with your personality.
9. Would you consider yourself a social butterfly or more of an introvert?
No, employers do not only want to hire extroverts. While it may seem that way, they understand that most people are on a spectrum, and we all have unique strengths and challenges. And if they don’t understand that, then you probably don’t want to work for them.
Still, be honest about what you are, but also show that you understand both are necessary. And be able to show how you’ve successfully demonstrated both qualities. That means an illustration of a story suited to your particular type and one where you overcame your basic nature.
10. What do you know about the company?
Having an answer to this question will set you apart from most applicants. If you take about 45 minutes to an hour to research a company and brainstorm questions, then it will greatly impress the interviewer.
We recommend a two-pronged approach: a) go to the company website and read the About Page as well as any section where they’ve issued press releases. The company blog also is a good on-site source for what’s new and relevant; b) search the company’s name on Google News and social media to see what challenges the company might be facing or other ways they’re on the radar outside of company culture.
11. Why should we hire you for this position?
If you’ve done your homework on the first 10 questions, then the answer to this one will be easier to come by. Pay close attention to stories and illustrations where your skills and education and experience would translate well to their company.
12. What skills would you like to learn from working for our company?
“I don’t know” is a terrible answer. It shows you haven’t done the appropriate amount of research into the company. Instead, read some of their job descriptions — both for what you’re applying for and jobs outside of the skill level/paygrade — to see what qualifications are needed. Make a list of the ones that sound interesting, and let those guide your answers.
Master These First Job Interview Questions, and You’ll Be Ready for Your First Day
If you study and master these first job interview questions, you’ll be in a much better position to get your first day, first paycheck, and the first step on the path to a promising career. Now, what are some questions that you’re worried about answering in a job interview, and what are some of the best answers you’ve ever given? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]