Congratulations! Your teen has snagged an interview for a summer job. The Brookings Institution reported that this is the toughest job market for teens since WWII with only 26% of teens employed in 2011 down from 45% in 2000. So it’s more important than ever to really shine in the interview.
Here are 10 interview tips for teens that will help put their best foot forward and stand out as they interview for a job.
1. Dress the part. You don’t have to purchase an interview suit unless you’re interviewing at a bank or very corporate environment. Just make sure your attire is clean, appropriate and business casual level or above.
2. Keep your makeup and overall look natural. Down the road you might learn that creative makeup or piercings are the norm, but until you have the job down, don’t ever assume.
3. Be on time. Before the interview, find out where it is, how long it takes to get there (drive your route at the same time that you will be driving to the interview to observe traffic patterns – then add 15 minutes for the unexpected!) and where to park, so you aren’t unpleasantly surprised. If you get there early, that’s just one more thing to knock off the worry list!
4. Leave your phone in the car. When your phone is on you, it’s too tempting to want to scroll through it while you wait and even though you think you have silenced it, doesn’t it seem that you have forgotten at the least opportune time? Don’t be tempted. Just leave it in the car.
5. Be polite to everyone. Here’s a little secret: sometimes a potential employer will ask other employees to rate interviewees. Were you dismissive to the receptionist or counter help? They’ll know! Be polite to absolutely everyone you come across.
6. Do some research and have questions ready. Employers like to see that you know something about where you are interviewing. So do some background research on the company and come equipped with smart questions – not just what your pay and schedule will look like, but about your daily tasks and qualities they look for in a successful employee.
7. Be prepared to discuss what interests you about the position. They are going to ask what made you decide to apply there, or what you can offer in this particular position. Be prepared with a succinct statement that highlights your strengths and shows them that you are the ideal candidate.
8.Link your strengths with the job requirements. Are you involved in drama? Tell your interviewer how that will help you interact with the public. A member of the soccer team? Tell them how your drive and perseverance allowed you to earn that spot, and the many lessons its taught you about teamwork, schedule management and responsibility.
9. Have references at the ready. A potential employers is likely to ask for references. Be ready with some teachers or coaches, previous employers, such as those who hired you to babysit or plant sit, a clergy member or youth group leader. You want to provide your potential employer with contacts who can vouch for your character and sense of responsibility.
10. Follow up with a thank you. This can’t be emphasized enough. Whether true or not, the common sentiment is that teens communicate primarily through text or email. A handwritten, mailed thank you note, sent within a day or two of the interview, can really help you stand out.
Today’s job market for teens is harder than ever, but the perfect job is there for the candidate who sets themselves apart. Following these interview tips can vault you ahead of the pack, and earn you the summer job you deserve.