Entry-Level Jobs 101

How To Evaluate Entry-Level Job Fit in Your Interview

Interviews aren’t just for the employer to evaluate whether or not they should give you a job. They’re more of a 2-way conversation and an important opportunity for you to evaluate whether the company is a good fit. This evaluation is most important when considering where to start working after graduating from college. Your first job can set you on a path on to a successful career, or it can drastically confuse you and make it harder to figure out what to do next.

Here are a few tips to help you use your time and questions in an interview to best understand whether or not you actually want the job you’re interviewing for.

Pause and Reflect

Before you even consider preparing for your interview a great exercise is to take some time to reflect on what you think you want from your career, your first job, and what success means to you. The better you know yourself the smoother the interview will go. You’ll be able to answer questions confidently, honestly, and second-guess yourself far less often.

Read Into the Interview Process

How have you been treated during the job application and interview process? Has the employer been communicative and friendly? Have they set expectations clearly? Put yourself in the shoes of the company you are interviewing with and ask yourself if you’d be happy with the treatment the applicants have gotten?

The application process can tell you quite a bit about how the company values hiring and the importance of hiring the right people. Attention to detail and thoughtfulness is often a great sign that you’ll be happy and nurtured in your first role. If you’re being left in the dark frequently, it might be time to consider whether or not you really want to work for someone who apparently doesn’t care too much about hiring you.

Observe Body Language

When you’re meeting with employees at the company and answering their questions, try and read their body language when they talk about their company. Are they upbeat and optimistic? Do they hint at there being confict or trouble? The manner in which they communicate can often lead you to get a feel for how satisfying the day-to-day work is. If you’re getting bad signs from the employees, don’t necessarily dig in and ask them directly why they appear to be frustrated. Be tactful and ask them to elaborate more. Ask about personal interests of the employees that interview you. See if their body language changes when they’re talking about something you know they truly enjoy.

Don’t Sell Out

You don’t have a job. Your friends have jobs. Your family is breathing down your neck about what you’re going to do after graduation. You have mountains of debt to start paying off. You’ve had little success with interviewing, but this job feels like you can actually land it.

This is a relatively common scenario that leads to early entry-level job frustration. You go into the interview overly desperate and wind up taking a dead-end job that leads to more frustration, poor performance and reviews, and an early quarter-life crisis.

Instead of caving to your desperation and eating up everything the employer says during the interview, remain skeptical and listen thoroughly to everything they’re saying.

Ask About Motivation

Ask your potential employer what motivates their employees. Why are people there? Is is their passion for the company’s mission? Is it financial motivation? Business motivation? Their answer should align with your interests and desires. If you’re driven to help a particular cause, working at just any company isn’t good enough. Find the one where the people are particularly motivated to help that same cause.

Answer Their Questions Honestly

There’s often a lot of temptation in a job interview to provide the answers that you think the employer wants to hear. The more honest and transparent you are about your desires and goals, the more the employer (who should know their own company culture better than anyone) can help you assess whether or not you’d be a great fit.

What’s Next

Now that you’ve got a few additional tips to help you assess whether or not a company is a good fit, feel free to prep fully for the interview with our top 20 entry-level job interview questions.

If you think you’re going to take the job, feel free to move on and check out our guide to starting your entry-level job off on the right foot.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?