Job interviews can be a really daunting experience, especially if you haven't had one before. As a teenager seeking for jobs, it’s important to familiarize yourself with interview procedures, as this is an essential skill that will come in handy later in your career, too.
In this ever more competitive job market, knowing how to ace an interview will certainly give you a competitive advantage. Below, we’ll offer you some tips on how you can prepare for your next job interview as a teenager.
1. Do your research
When you are invited for an interview, it’s vital that you learn as much as you can about the role and the company. Start by reviewing the organization’s history, key statistics, names of senior leadership, locations and information such as its vision and core values.
Next, study the job description by looking at the requirements and duties that come with the role.
For instance, customer service roles often call for soft skills such as teamwork, reliability and communication. By being aware of these prerequisites, you can anticipate potential interview questions and come up with examples of past experiences that demonstrate your skills and suitability for the role. During the interview you may also be asked why you are interested in the specific job or company, so by doing your homework in advance you will be ready to give a well-informed response.
Finally, it is also advisable to research the travel route to where the interview is being held. This will help you anticipate any last-minute surprises such as train cancellations or road closures, maximizing your chances of being on time for the interview.
2. Practice common interview questions
Behavioral interview questions ask you to recall something from your past in order to help the interviewer understand how you might react to a similar situation in the future. They often begin with phrases such as “Can you give me an example of a time when you…”
Interviewers may also ask abstract questions, such as “Why are manhole covers round and not square?”, or “If you were to describe yourself as a color, what would it be and why?” Take some time to review examples of abstract questions and answers so you can ensure you are not caught off-guard. Interviewers ask these questions to find out if you will fit into their organisation and to gauge how adaptable and creative you can be when presented with a problem. It’s important to demonstrate how your values and professional goals are aligned to the company, so they consider you to be a good fit.
For example, if you are interviewing for a customer service role and are asked about your favorite color, you might reply, “I love orange, because it’s bright and happy color and always lifts people’s spirits”.
There might also be exploratory questions like “Why do you want to work here?”, “What has attracted you to this role?”, or “Tell us what you know about the company”. Your research will help here.
Finally, there might be questions inquiring about aspects like your work visa, salary expectations, notice period, and any upcoming vacation. It’s not rude to discuss salary - be honest with your expectations and go from there.
3. Practice with a friend
As part of your interview preparation, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to help you run through some of these questions.
This will help you rehearse your answers but will also help you combat interview nerves. The more your practice with someone, the better you will be at communicating in a formal interview. Plus, you will be able to pick up feedback about the way you answer questions, as well as the content of your answers.
4. Get in the right frame of mind
Having the right mindset in the hours leading up to your interview is crucial.
The night before, ensure you get a good night's sleep, to ensure you are fresh on the day of. You should also avoid last-minute cramming or research, as you will struggle to retain this information under pressure and could cause you to panic.
Finally, allocate sufficient time to travel to the location where the interview will take place to get there ahead of time, relax and gather your thoughts before the interview begins.
5. Test the technology
With virtual interviews becoming more common in recent years, it’s essential to be prepared to be interviewed through this format via conferencing platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.
Even if you have experience using such software, take the time to set up your equipment and practice a dial-in to the interview as soon as you receive the invitation check that everything is working and that you don’t need to register anywhere or download supplementary software. You should also check your mic and camera, to ensure that the interviewers will be able to see and hear you clearly.
If you leave these tasks to the last minute, you run the risk of delaying the interview which could leave a poor impression on the interviewers.
6. Make a great first impression
Making a great first impression in the interview starts with being on time by arriving a little early.
Make sure to greet the hiring manager with a handshake and ask them how they are doing. It’s important that you are honest and sincere all the way through the meeting. Eye contact is important as well as being an attentive listener and participant to the conversation.
These are all cues that demonstrate to the hiring managers that you are interested in the role.
7. Dress appropriately
Another important factor to help you make a good first impression is dressing the part.
Even if you are attending a virtual interview, you should wear smart of formal attire. A good choice would be a pressed shirt or blouse, smart trousers or a skirt, and polished dress shoes or low heels. A tie could also be a good addition, but this will depend on the company’s dress code.
Try to avoid being overly fashionable or edgy unless you absolutely know it’s part of the company’s culture. If you are asked to wear certain colors of clothes (eg for a trial shift) then follow the hiring manager’s instructions to the T.
8. Study your résumé
In the interview, the recruiter will often refer to the contents of your CV or résumé. At this stage of your career, you might not have an extensive work history, but this doesn't mean that you won’t have examples that demonstrate your skills and knowledge.
It’s important to include any relevant work shadowing, part-time jobs or volunteering opportunities in your professional document and it’s even more important to go over these experiences prior your interview.
Also, make sure to mention your education including projects and extracurriculars that relate to the role or demonstrate soft and transferable skills. Interviewers love to hear how your previous experience can relate to the job, so make sure you are ready to sell those points to them.
9. Ask questions
An interview is a two-way conversation. Therefore, you must be prepared to ask questions of your own at the end of the interview. This shows to hiring managers that you have been listening closely to them during the meeting and that you are genuinely interested and curious about the role.
Some good questions to ask after an interview could be “When can I expect to hear back from you?”, “What would be your expectations of me in the role?”, “Are there opportunities for professional development within this role?”, or “What’s your favorite thing about working here?”.
10. Thank the interviewer and follow up
After your interview, it’s important to follow up with the interviewer by sending a “thank you” email. Make sure to send your message within 24 hours of the interview and use this opportunity to reiterate your interest for the role and highlight the key reasons why you would be a great fit.
If you are unsuccessful in getting the role, it’s wise to ask the interviewers for feedback. While not all companies will get back to you, it’s still important that you do this as you can utilize this information and improve on certain areas for your next interview.
Once you get through your first interview, the ones that follow will be a lot easier.
So, make sure to use these tips along the way as you continue your career. The key is to learn from each interview, whether it was successful or not. Slowly, you will gain experience and confidence which will put you in an increasingly strong position to anticipate the unknown and land a job.
Having the innate knowledge as a teenager on how to interview will help you hone this important life skill over time.
Are you getting ready for your first interview? Which of these tips stood out to you? Let us know in the comments section below!