Applying for jobs can seem a bit daunting as teens are moving out of their comfort zone of home & school. However, a first job provides a young person with so much real life experience in terms of learning to work with other colleagues, the challenges of dealing with difficult customers and also having a boss who is not a teacher or parent figure. And depending on the type of job, youth can be more determined to finish their education!!

Most importantly, young people should be establishing solid work habits and manners suitable for workplace etiquette. 

So after a fruitful search has been made, a date has been set for the Job Interview!! Woo Hoo!! Share your own concerns and lack of confidence back when you were that age so your teen doesn’t feel alone. It’s totally natural to be nervous but having the courage to face fears is an excellent way to grow in resilience. 

Practice by role playing through some basic interview questions so your teenage son or daughter knows what to expect. Reduce the fear factor!! (Hint: Don’t refer to the answers on paper. Have them memorized.)

  • Tell me a little about yourself?
  • Why do you want this position?
  • Did you research our company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are you studying in school that will help you succeed in this position?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What’s the biggest accomplishment you feel proudest about so far?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Can you work on holidays and weekends? What about evenings?
  • This job pays $$. Is that acceptable to you?
  • Do you have any questions about the job or this company?
  • When can you start?

Interviewers probably won’t ask all of these questions but will ask some combination of them. 

Other tips to share with your teen to ace that interview include:

  1. Eat something about an hour before the interview so the rumbling in the tummy doesn’t become distracting. Did you remember to brush your teeth? Comb or style your hair? Use deodorant? For young men, is your facial hair looking neat and trimmed?
  2. Be punctual which means arriving 15 minutes earlier than the interview time!! Is that outfit appropriate for the interview? Remember that first impressions are made within 7-10 seconds so you want to make them count!!
  3. Greet the interviewer with a smile and direct eye contact even if a handshake doesn’t occur.
  4. Wait to be told where to sit. Never touch anything on the interviewer’s desk. It’s their private property.
  5. Sit towards the edge of the seat. If need be, bring extra resumes in the event that the interview is happening on a college campus.
  6. Have positive body language by leaning in a little to show that you’re listening. Don’t interrupt. Keep your hands from making any strange movements like clicking the pen or fiddling with jewelry. Maintain good eye contact, smile and keep breathing!! You’ve got this!!!
  7. Have a pen & paper handy to make notes. Your list of questions should be included, also. Do try to ask a question or two so the interviewer knows you are interested and took the time to learn something about the company (or college/university).
  8. Listen carefully and answer the questions as honestly as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarity if a question is unclear. Take a moment to breathe to get back some composure. Your interviewer was once in your shoes so they are understanding towards nerves.
  9. Most important of all is to look enthusiastic. Sometimes youth can be shy or unsure of themselves so they can have a flat or low affect which means not displaying much emotion. But the interviewer isn’t a mind reader so don’t be afraid of showing excitement even if you’re very nervous.
  10. When the interviewer ends the appointment, get up and once again give a nice smile thanking the person for their time. BONUS – send a ‘thank you’ email to the interviewer(s), if more people happened to be present. All things being equal in terms of the candidates, that simple act of kindness could be enough to put you uppermost in the minds of those who will be hiring. Mention again why you would be the ideal candidate or why you would feel the company would be a great fit. It’s appropriate to “blow your own horn”!!

The hiring manager is evaluating your Listening Skills, Confidence, Empathy, Friendliness, Nonverbal Communication, Respect and How Clear & Concise your Answers are.

To sum up, I include a quote taken from the book entitled “The Gift of Good Manners” written by Peggy Post and Cindy Post Senning, Ed.D. that are good reminders for teens.

People who hire teens do not expect them to be at the same level as adult job-seekers. They are looking for young employees who are conscientious, trustworthy and respectful, ready and willing to learn, and motivated to work to the best of their abilities. A self-confident teen shows genuine interest in the job he/she is seeking and the opportunity (not just the money) being offered.


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