37 First Job Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 13, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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An interview is typically the next hiring stage after submitting a job application. If you recently received your first interview invitation, it can help to research the hiring organization and practise your answers to potential questions. Reviewing first job interview questions and example answers can help build your confidence and increase your chances of securing your first role. In this article, we discuss general, experience-based, and in-depth questions to expect in your first job interview, review popular interview questions with sample answers, and share helpful tips for a successful interview.

General first job interview questions

These first job interview questions can help you describe your personality, motivations, and potential value to interviewers. Here are some general questions you can expect:

  • Can you describe yourself?

  • What motivates you?

  • What are your short- and long-term career goals?

  • What are your greatest strengths?

  • What's your work philosophy?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What does a successful career mean to you?

  • Are you a team player?

  • How do you maintain a work-life balance?

  • What are your hobbies and interests?

Questions about experience and background

While you may have limited work experience before securing your first job, an interviewer may ask whether you performed similar duties in school or during internships. Here are some experience-based and background questions to expect:

  • Can you describe your educational background?

  • What courses did you enjoy the most?

  • Explain how your background qualifies you for this job.

  • Do you engage in continuous learning?

  • What's an important career lesson you learned while working as part of a team?

  • Describe your greatest accomplishment.

  • What volunteer experience do you have?

  • Can you describe a time you overcame a challenge in school?

  • Did you complete any internships?

  • What was the most important concept you learned during your internships?

In-depth questions for your first job interview

In many cases, an interviewer may ask situational or behavioural questions to understand how you handle practical situations. Here are some in-depth questions to consider:

  • Can you describe your ideal job?

  • What was your greatest impact while working as part of a team?

  • What are your preferred work styles and communication methods?

  • How do you track your career development?

  • Are you comfortable working flexible hours?

  • What attributes do you seek in an ideal work environment?

  • How well do you adapt to new situations?

  • What do you know about our organization?

  • How do you handle occasional conflicts with others?

  • What qualities can help you succeed in this role?


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7 first job interview questions with sample answers

Here are popular questions for your first job interview and examples of how to answer them effectively:

1. Why do you want to work here?

Interviewers often ask this question to determine whether you researched the hiring organization. They might also use your motivation for applying to know whether you're a good fit. Reading about the hiring organization's products, services, mission, history, vision, and work culture can help you provide a compelling answer. In your response, you can mention specific company aspects that appeal to you and align with your core values.

Example answer: "I want to work here because I believe in the company's mission to provide sustainable energy solutions to developing regions. I spent many of my childhood years in the target regions and look forward to applying my mechanical engineering expertise to develop solar-powered solutions. Finding a company with a positive work environment is one of my priorities and this company ranks at the top of my list."

Read more: Interview Question: "Why Do You Want to Work Here?"

2. What interests you about this role?

Interviewers often ask this question to confirm whether you understand the available role. You can provide an effective answer by highlighting your skills and character traits and aligning them to select responsibilities that interest you.

Example answer: "The opportunity to make a positive difference in communities while advancing my career with an industry leader interests me. From my research, this position fits perfectly with my skill set and aligns with how I look to develop my career. The prospect of working with experienced professionals also excites me."

3. What qualities make you unique?

This question can help an employer know why you're a more competitive candidate. To answer it, discuss your potential value to the company and cover how your background prepares you for the role.

Example answer: "My ability to meet and exceed project deadlines while maintaining performance levels makes me unique. I learned that you're looking for candidates who thrive in fast-paced environments. I believe my training in a similar setting and diligence to work make me a competitive candidate."

Read more: Interview Question: "What Makes You Unique?"

4. Describe a time you exceeded performance expectations.

This question can offer insights into your work philosophy. You can answer it by reflecting on a situation where you volunteered to help a colleague or performed additional responsibilities during an internship. A compelling answer can position you as a top performer.

Example answer: "I enjoy exceeding performance expectations, especially when it helps my supervisor. I remember a project I worked on that involved preparing a report on industry competitors. While the requirements were to answer questions on product prices and sales, I saw an opportunity to make informative dashboards. I presented all charts and graphs to my supervisor, who found them engaging and insightful."

Read more: 5 Situational Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

5. How do you manage stress?

How you handle stressful situations can reveal more about your ability to maintain a work-life balance. Employers often prefer candidates who constructively handle workplace stress. In your answer, describe your response to these situations and provide an example that shows your resilience and stress management techniques.

Example answer: "I manage stress by remaining calm and focusing on project milestones instead of ultimate goals. I also plan each work day by keeping a to-do list and scheduling tasks in a planner. In my experience, these techniques help me complete my tasks before all deadlines."

Read more: How to Answer Interview Questions about Stress

6. What are your salary expectations?

Interviewers ask this question toward an interview's end to determine whether your salary expectations align with a company's calculations. Your response can show whether you researched the position's salary. To answer this question, you can provide a range and include negotiation options.

Example answer: "I'm seeking a position that pays between $40,000 and $55,000 per year. Reflecting on my skill set and experience level, I feel this is a comfortable range for my work. I'm also open to negotiating pay depending on benefits, bonuses, and stock options."

Read more: How to Research and Talk Confidently about Salary Requirements

7. How do you define success?

Interviewers often ask this to understand how your definition of success influences your goals. Consider discussing your greatest achievements and aligning your answer with the hiring organization's success definition.

Example answer: "I define success as fulfilling my role in my team and the company. I aim to complete individual duties effectively, balancing professional growth with contributing to a company's goals. During my internships, I achieved success by exceeding weekly performance indicators and reaching all development goals."


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Interview tips to secure your first job

Here are helpful practices that can help you succeed during your first job interview:

Study the job posting

Reviewing the job description can help you understand a company's expectations for an ideal candidate. You can learn what skills to highlight during your interview and discover how to include your expected duties in each response. Consider connecting with the listed professional if you require more information on any job description aspect.

Related: Interview Questions to Ask an Employee (With Example Answers)

Practise with a contact

Practising your answers with a friend, mentor, or career coach can help you get feedback. You can use the STAR interview response technique to form your answer. STAR represents:

  • Situation: Explain the challenge or provide context.

  • Task: Outline your responsibility in the situation.

  • Action: Explain your strategy to achieve the desired goal.

  • Result: Outline the outcome based on your actions.

Read more: How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

Prepare questions for the interviewer

Aside from preparing answers to questions, you can also ask the interviewer questions. Doing this can help clarify and show your genuine interest in the employment opportunity. Here are smart questions you can ask an interviewer toward the end of your first job interview:

  • What do you enjoy about working here?

  • What industrial changes or innovations excite you?

  • Can you describe the company's culture?

  • Does the company have employee resource groups?

  • What's the company's management style?

  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

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