5 Interview Tips for Teenagers

Job interviews are stressful for both teens and adults alike. Adults have the benefit of experience but since teens are likely new to the process, tips are generally useful. (Photo in public domain)

Getting a job is one of the biggest obstacles that people face during their lives. Many people also consider the interview process to be the most difficult part of securing a position. Adults have the benefit of experience when it comes to what to say and do in an interview, but teens are left without this valuable tool.

Teens are left to their own devices unless their parents help them or they dedicate themselves to some online research. So in order to make things a little easier for every job-seeking teen, here are five interview tips for teenagers.

Know Yourself

The first question any interviewer is going to ask you is “tell me about yourself.” The question may seem simple but many people get tripped up when it is asked. 

Before you go into an interview you should outline a few basic things about yourself. These include hobbies, interests, and strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the position you are applying for, it is best to tailor your answers to best suit the kind of person your employer is searching for. For example, if you are applying for a kitchen position and you both cook and draw, you might want to elaborate on your cooking hobby versus art.

Make sure to also include any special skills, qualifications, or accomplishments that could apply to the job. 

Another important factor to consider is when you will be able to work. Going into an interview knowing what days and hours you can work helps both your employer and you. 

Most teens tend to have a pretty busy schedule so knowing when you are free helps avoid scheduling conflicts in the future. You will not have to worry about missing a shift or important club meeting because you disclosed your availability when you first came in.

Research, Research, Research

Many people overlook this step, but research can be your best friend when you go into an interview. 

You should look into some of the basic information about the position you are applying for. It might not be necessary for some entry level jobs as long as you are already familiar with the company, but it is never a bad idea. The most obvious thing to look into is what kind of products or services you will be providing. 

Looking into the history and the type of work available at the company you are interviewing for are both great places to start. You can conduct this research by visiting the company’s website and social media as well as visiting the establishment in person.

Based on what you find, it is also a good idea to create at least three follow-up questions for your interview so the conversation is not one-sided. These questions should center around what your position will require of you and what kind of work environment you are entering into, as well as any other personal concerns you may have.

Another commonly overlooked part of the research is actually reading your application. Job descriptions and any information shown on an application will directly apply for your position, so it is important to know exactly what you are signing up for.

When you have a solid grip on what the job and company requires from you, you will finally have a better understanding of the career in front of you and you can finally decide if it is a good personal fit. 

The more you understand the job, the easier you will be able to answer the interviewer’s questions.

Practice Makes Perfect

Arguably the best way to prepare for an interview is to practice.

The easiest way to practice is to have a friend or family member read questions out to you. Have them give you feedback on how you behaved during the interview and try to improve each time you practice. Interview questions can be easily found online such as this list from Balanced Careers

When you practice you should not just focus on the questions, but your body language as well. Eye contact, posture, and a firm handshake are all important factors that play into how your interviewer will perceive you.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Many of the jobs teenagers apply for will try and ask for impromptu interviews. This means you might walk in the door expecting to just grab an application but the manager might offer to interview you on the spot. 

The easiest way to deal with these surprise interviews is to always be ready. When you go in to grab a job application make sure to be in presentable clothing and know any information you feel might be important. If you prepare for this, then your interviewer will not catch you off guard and might be more willing to give you the job.

There is one benefit of this interview style and that is that you do not have time to stress about the interview, you react under pressure and in the moment. 

So, if you want to increase your chances of an impromptu interview then try and grab your application when the business is slow–midday generally works best for this method. You can also try and ask the manager to talk if you are bold enough, just make sure to be respectful.

Dress for Success

When you are a teenager there are not too many rules to dressing up for interviews, but the one big thing to avoid is dressing casually. According to a 2017 recruiter report done by Jobvite, 24% of recruiters believe that dressing too casually is a deal-breaker.

A few specific items to avoid according to Zippia would be bold jewelry, casual shoes, and ripped or revealing clothing. It is also important to keep your hair tidy and out of your face if possible. 

An extra tip that many people do not consider is to avoid wearing clothing from a competitor if you are applying for a retail job. This rule is fairly simple to follow as long as you keep logos out of sight, but the hiring manager at Hollister might not want to hire you if you are wearing a shirt that says American Eagle.

A good rule of thumb for dressing up for an interview is to show up one level fancier than the job you are applying for requires. If you are not sure what level of dress your position requires business casual is almost always an acceptable option.

Asking your parents to approve your outfit is also a good idea.

Being nervous for your first interview is normal, but you should not have to go in blind. Having a few tips will make all the difference in the success of your interview and your likelihood of getting the job will increase if you follow them.


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