Breaking into the workforce at 22 and earning $64,896 annually makes every all-nighter and four-hour lecture worth it. Your college achievements and internships are finally paid off. And you just scribbled your first-ever job interview into your calendar.


Once the excitement fizzles out, it’s time to start prepping for the big day.

Are you ready to make a great first impression and wow a potential future employer?

No need to freestyle your answers and hope for the best. Here are five questions to help you prepare for your first job interview and lock down a job offer!

Tell Me About Yourself.

The interview question that’ll leave you speechless also happens to be the easiest:

“Tell me about yourself.”

And since it’s the first question an interviewer will lob your way, answering confidently can set the tone for an interview ending on a high note.

This question allows you to brag about why you’re an ideal candidate.

How *Not* to Answer This Question

Though modern-day CEOs build a “family-like atmosphere,” an interview should remain strictly professional.

The wrong answers here involve:

  • How many pets or children you have
  • Whether you’re in a romantic relationship
  • What you like to do in your spare time
  • A play-by-play of what’s on your resume
  • Where you went to college, whether you played sports, or if you joined clubs
Unless your interviewer sets a casual tone and specifically asks, leave these topics out. These points hardly explain how you’d succeed as a customer service rep.

How to Answer This Question

Take the time to write an elevator sales pitch that’s both detailed and to the point. Think about your past, present, and future and how all three tie into this position.

For example, mention:

  • Your responsibilities at your current job
  • Programs, skills, or experiences you’re confident in
  • Accomplishments that can lend to this position
  • Why this job listing captured your attention
Practice this spiel in your lead-up to your interview, but don’t memorize it. The interviewer might interrupt you and ask follow-up questions to learn more details!

Where Do You See Yourself in [Time] Years?

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” can stump you if you live in the moment or are new to the workforce. Employers love this question because it clues them into your future goals:

Will you be a long-term company asset? Are you ambitious with eyes on the future?

How *Not* to Answer This Question

The best way to send an interview into a downward spiral is to mention goals completely unrelated to this company or industry. For example, don’t reveal that your lifelong dream is to become a dog groomer in an interview for a sales position.

If you intend to stick around for less than a year, it signals that they’ll have to redo this hiring hassle all over again soon. It also steals this opportunity from another qualified candidate committed to this path and a better team player.

How to Answer This Question

There’s no way to predict your future accurately, but an ambitious and industry-related answer is ideal. Talk about potential leadership positions within the company with details about how you’ll get there (ex: certifications and training).

Without saying, “In your position,” emphasize your passion for knowledge and moving up the ladder or into another department.

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

For every digital job opening posted, an employer will receive about 118 job apps.

But not all applicants are seeking a long-term position. Answering the “Why do you want to work here?” quiz correctly can give you a serious leg-up.

How *Not* to Answer This Question

Even if you’re desperate for employment or are overdue on rent, those are the worst possible answers to this usual slam-dunk question.

Avoid these topics entirely:

  • Pay, benefits, discounts, or commission rates
  • A lack of options (this screams, “nobody else would hire me”)
  • Looking good on your resume
  • How close it is to your home
  • Knowing someone who works there

These self-centred answers distance you from the job and make it look like a last resort option. Neither describes what you’ll bring to the company or your passion.

How to Answer This Question

Well before the interview day, set aside some time to research the company and “do your homework.” Scour the official website, job description, and social media profiles to build the base for your answer.

When you face this question head-on, express enthusiasm at the company’s culture and how it aligns with your values and skill set. For example, if you volunteer on weekends, sing praises for the company’s community service initiative.

Or talk about your experience with the product/service and how it earned local or national awards.

What’s Your Biggest Strength? Weakness?

When an interviewer asks you to be vulnerable and explain your strengths and weaknesses, it can seem like a trick question. Disclosing a short-fuse can torpedo any chances of an offer. But there’s also a fine line between cocky and confident.

Nailing this question is like walking a tightrope.

Quick Tips for How to Answer This Question

The secret formula here is being descriptive. If it’s a weakness, explain how you intend to overcome it. If it’s a strength, stay humble.

Instead of saying, “I’m not confident,” say, “I’m often afraid I’m not doing a good enough job. But I refuse to let this weakness stand in the way of progress.”

Rather than touting, “I’m the top sales converter my company has ever seen,” say, “My customer service initiative led to a 30% conversion rate last year.”

Have three to five strengths and weaknesses prepared for when you face this inevitable and stumping question.

What Would You Bring to the Team?

The final question employers love to ask is what you bring to the table. Business owners want to ensure that their company runs like a well-greased machine (a team effort), not 30 separate parts that thrive alone.

If you didn’t have a fluffed and impressive resume, you wouldn’t be sitting at this desk.

But this is where you detail your top soft skills, like:

  • I’m an excellent communicator.
  • I’m a skilled problem-solver and thrive in time crunches.
  • I bring a lot of energy and always remain positive.
  • I’ll step up and take on leadership roles when I feel qualified.
  • I believe that if the team doesn’t succeed, nobody succeeds!
Emphasize your unique qualities and mission to improve the company as a whole instead of climbing the ladder. Toot your own horn and help yourself stand out without coming off as cocky or overly confident.


Crafting the perfect answers is essential to acing your first-ever job interview. But arriving fully prepared will impress your interviewer even more.

That means:
  • Leaving the house early (avoid rush hour and arrive ahead of schedule)
  • Updating your resume and cover letter and printing several copies
  • Dressing business formal or business casual
  • Compiling a reference list
  • Organizing paperwork in a briefcase, binder, or professional-looking backpack
  • Most importantly, be yourself.
Answer questions honestly instead of blurting out what you think the employer wants to hear. And don’t be afraid to let your personality shine — smile and laugh.

Good luck!

[Author bio]

Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Traverse Commons to help them with their online marketing.