What should I do to stand out at my first job interview?

Thursday June 11 2020


By Jane Muiruri

Dear Jane,
I recently graduated from college and I have been spending most of my time filling job applications. Luckily, I have been called to an interview for a job I applied for last week. It is going to be my first interview and I am very nervous. What should I do to stand out? Which is the best way to prepare and what shouldn’t I do during the process?

Dear Joan,
Congratulations on this achievement. Being shortlisted for a face-to-face interview means that you have passed the initial recruitment stage. Now, the task at hand is to prepare adequately.

First, you must have a thorough understanding of the role you have been shortlisted for. Review the advertisement and take note of what is expected of the candidate, and the skills and competencies required for the role.

Employers often hire and promote individuals whose values and preferences are closely matched with the company’s culture. If the organisation is looking to go digital or about to launch new products or services and are looking for innovative candidates, then they will focus on candidates who are bold and willing to try out new ideas, those who demonstrate good problem solving techniques, and people who are interested in self-development and can stand back up even when they fail.

The advertisement can give you hints on the values that you must demonstrate. The interview itself is simply a discussion that seeks to confirm that the candidate really possesses the skills indicated in the CV, and assessing the principles that he or she ascribes to. Get as much information as you can about the company. What kind of products or services do they deal in? Who are their target customers? What are their current challenges? With the internet, this information is easy to get.

Remember to look presentable and communicate clearly during the interview. Put your documents neatly in a folder and have them in soft copy so that you can share them with the panel upon request. Let your referees know that you have shared their contacts with the recruiter.


Capitalise on your strengths since you will be competing with many others. The plan is to ensure that the recruitment panel remembers you long after you have left the room. Be flexible when negotiating your salary. Give a range of your desired amount and say that the figure is negotiable. Don’t be the candidate who has to be coaxed into giving a quote. This could be interpreted as lack of self-confidence.

Jane Muiruri,
Senior HR Manager,
Nation Media Group