We asked successful professionals: ‘What did you learn from your first job interview?’

We asked successful professionals: ‘What did you learn from your first job interview?’

Job Interview

“Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person,” said Pope Francis. Indeed, work not only gives us the resources to provide ourselves and our loved ones with life’s basic necessities, it gives us a sense of purpose, a reason to get up in the morning and look forward to the day.

But as anyone knows, before you land a job, you have to hurdle the job interview—an often awkward and unpleasant but nonetheless memorable experience that is not without its life lessons.

To help and inspire fresh graduates in their job hunt, My Pope sought three successful professionals who shared with us the circumstances behind their first job interview—and the nuggets of wisdom they gained from it.

Read on to learn some valuable tips!

Rikka Infantado Fernandez

Business manager of Pia Wurtzbach

Rikka Fernandez


Please tell us about your first job interview.

My first job interview was with PAGCOR, right after graduation. I honestly cannot remember anymore how I applied but I think I just went and gave my resume because someone told me they pay really well. I had no idea what I was getting into but I passed the exam and was called for an interview for the position of secretary to the head of the slot machine division. I did not get the job because I had no experience. He offered me the position of a slot machine attendant, which I declined. They called me again for another interview for another department and I was accepted. I started as secretary to the head of the Provident Fund Management Department.

What advice can you give to first-time job applicants?

One thing I remember was being liked by the personnel officer. I believe this was because, first, I dressed appropriately and first impressions make a huge difference. I also did not feel entitled, in the sense that I was willing to start from the bottom. Fresh grad, no experience, so who am I to demand a position?

Be nice to everyone, from the guard to the staff especially. The personnel officer who was fielding applicants to job openings sent me to the second boss when the first applicant did not work out.

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Alya B. Honasan

Writer and editor

Alya Honasan


Please tell us about your first job interview.

I had sooo many job interviews after graduation, because I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do. I interviewed for consumer goods companies, travel agencies, department stores, pharma companies, banks. One of the most memorable was the ones for big multinational companies like PRC and Procter and Gamble, who made a big deal of hiring the best students as well-paid management trainees for high-profile product management. I remember we had to do about three rounds of interviews, by different executives. It was a formal setting—you had to be dressed, and your interviewer sat behind a desk in a big office, looking through your application form. By the time it was down to the last three finalists, you had to talk to a ranking manager. I remember the guy who talked to me was very pleasant and warm, so I thought I was a shoo-in. They never called back, sadly—which was just as well, I guess, because I really don’t know how I would have fared selling shampoo or detergent!

What advice can you give to first-time job applicants?

For first-time job applicants, you have to find a good balance between being over-confident and being a nervous wreck. Be yourself and be honest, be sure to talk about your good points and what you can do. BUT don’t get too chummy or giggly when the interviewer seems that way; always know your place. The best thing, though, I think, would be to focus on something early; zoom in on one industry or field, for example, and work in that direction first; there’s time to change track later on. I keep thinking, what was I thinking when I thought I would be happy working in a bank, or selling consumer products? But I guess I didn’t know myself well enough then. Try to get to know yourself better. Try not to think about the money and the prestige of the title too much; you have to like what you’re doing.

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Ed Uy

Social media influencer (http://www.whereiseduy.com)  

Ed Uy


Please tell us about your first job interview.

The year was 1997, and since it was my first job interview, I remember wearing the exact outfit (long-sleeved shirt and slacks) that I used for graduation. This was the B.G. (Before Google) era when you had to browse and clip the Classified Ads on the Sunday paper for job listings. There was no way of doing a background check on the company unless you are applying to one of those big multinational companies, otherwise company info was scarce, if not unavailable.

So I went to the address and lined up together with around 30 applicants. They gave us a written exam first before each of us was interviewed. The questions were the basic, “Tell me something about yourself,” “Why are you applying for this job?” and “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” all of which I think I answered confidently because I got the job—which I quit after three months because it turned out that the company was a scam.

What advice can you give to first-time job applicants?

I guess the most important thing I learned is to look for a job that you are really interested in. Don’t just apply because all of your friends are there, or because of the salary (unless you are the breadwinner and have no choice). You might not know your passion—yet, but it’s better to apply for a job that at least suits your interests or strengths. Even if the work is hard, at least you’ll be having fun.

Give genuine and polite answers, the interviewers know if you are faking your answers or if you just got them from the internet. Dress up professionally. I’ve seen call center applicants wearing shirts and flip-flops—it may be acceptable, but it doesn’t mean you have to be like everyone else. Lastly, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get hired. Don’t look at it as a failure but rather as another opportunity to find a job that is a better fit for you.

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Interviews by Joy Rojas.

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