Interviewing Tips For Your High School Aged Job Seeker

Updated on September 11, 2016
MaryBethRobinson profile image

Beth is a mother of 3. A graduate of the Ohio State University and experience with HR, Career & Tech Ed and lots of mom stories!!

How your teen can nail that interview!

Now that you have a teenager who wants a little independence, they may be thinking about having their own spending money. This means it's time to start looking for a part-time job. Whether it be at the local pizza shop, auto parts store, grocery store or at the mall, each job requires an interview in order to get that job. This is where you can help. Where do you start? What do you do?

Here are a few tips that will help them go in prepared and ready to have an adult conversation and preparing for responsibility in the real world:

  • Make sure their resume is factual. There is absolutely no need to embellish anything ever on a resume. It will be easier for a teen to go in and talk about what is truthful on their resume, instead of having to talk about an inflated GPA, clubs they don't belong to, or awards they never received. If they need help with a resume, there are plenty of websites that offer a guide to help them draw up a professional resume.
  • Work on eye contact. Being comfortable having a conversation with a stranger is hard, and maintaining eye contact is important. Being able to speak to an adult and look them in the eye shows that they are trustworthy, honest and mature. This goes a long way!
  • Role play questions so that they have an idea on how to answer those questions. You could ask: Why do you want to work here? If they respond "Because of the awesome discount I get on tennis shoes", that may not put them in the top of the pile. Rather guide them to talk about their love for tennis shoes and athletic wear, and that they feel that their excitement for this product may benefit their customer services skills. Have your teen tell you about their greatest accomplishment and talk about their weaknesses. Some interviews won't go in to such great detail, but it's a great thing to be prepared for.
  • Have them use real life examples to show a potential employer their abilities. Even with no prior work history, your teen can use volunteer work with neighbors, grandparents, the church etc. as examples of what they have done. Even being on a team and what you have done on that team shows leadership, sportsmanship and the ability to deal with adversity and get along with others.
  • Make sure that they are dressed appropriately. Think business casual. It doesn't matter where they are working, they need to get in the habit of knowing how to dress in certain situations. A job interview requires a sense of decorum when it comes to what they wear. Khaki's and a polo shirt for boys is fine. For girls, dress pants and a nice blouse or sweater. Make sure that they aren't wearing anything with holes or stains. Clean shoes and showered. Their clothes don't have to be expensive to look nice and you would be shocked at the things you can find at your local thrift store or consignment shop. However, if they are applying for a specialty store in the mall, it may really benefit them to dress similarly to those who are working there, and with the clothes they are selling.
  • The day of the interview- make sure they arrive 15 minutes early for their interview. Be ready and prepared. Bring a copy of their resume in a folder or binder and show some enthusiasm!
  • Also, work on a handshake. A FIRM handshake. No one likes to touch a clammy, dead fish! They should introduce themselves and offer a firm handshake while making eye contact. This may need practice! This is hard for teens to do and remember.
  • Remember no gum! Chewing gum during an interview is a big no no. This looks tacky and you run the risk of accidentally spitting it out while you're talking, or you forget and stop popping it or chewing on it like a cow chews it's cud.
  • Have them ask questions such as: "What are you looking for in the ideal employee?" "What are your expectations in a typical day?" "What should I expect my role to be at this company?" Once the interviewer gives them an answer, your teen should be able to circle around and offer characteristics that they exhibit that would relate to that specific job duty or expectation. This allows the interviewer to help view the candidate in that particular position.
  • Finally, make sure that they DON'T talk about needing time off, vacation days, pay etc. during the initial interview. Rate of pay should be discussed during the job offer and if you require a flexible schedule because of sports and/or your school schedule, that should also be discussed once the job offer has been extended. The only exception is if they offer your teen the job on the spot. If that is the case, make sure that they ask about rate of pay and flexibility in scheduling if you have a legitimate reason for that to occur (i.e: sports and or academics)

Once your teen has landed their first job, it is imperative for them to understand the need to be at work on time. To maintain a level of professionalism, maintain a level of respect for authority and to get along with people that you may not necessarily like or hang out with. This is part of growing up because as adults, we all work with someone we may not necessarily like, and we may not always like what our boss says or does, but we need to show respect and go in and do our job 100% of the time.

We can lead by example. We are their best teachers and if we show respect to authority, work hard and do that right thing every day, that goes a long way in teaching our children to do the same thing.


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