No one likes job interviews, but they are especially stressful when you don’t know what to expect or how to behave. Here are some tips to make your first (or second, or third…) job interview a success.
Dress for Success
First impressions are key, and dressing well is an important part of coming across as a qualified applicant.
- First impressions are important. Don’t show up to an interview in jeans and running shoes, with chains hanging off of you.
- Most employers discourage visible tattoos or piercings, so try to remove or hide any you may have as much as possible. If you refuse to do this for the job, make a point of mentioning it at the interview so that nobody’s time is wasted if the employer is against them.
- A good rule of thumb is to dress as you would for the best day on the job. Obviously this is made more difficult if you are interviewing for something like fast food that requires a uniform. In these cases, you don’t want to be overly formal, so dress pants and shoes, and a nice shirt or blouse is appropriate.
If you show up late to the interview, the employer will expect that you would show up late to work as well, and will be hesitant to hire you. Here are some points to remember.
- No one likes waiting, and potential employers are no exception. Managers are busy people and will not appreciate having to wait for you. If you’re late, you will have to work that much harder to impress the manager.
- Arrive five to ten minutes before your scheduled interview. If you show up much earlier than this, the interviewer may feel rushed to get to you, while if you show up only two minutes early, the interviewer may have spent the last three minutes wondering if you were going to show up.
- If you do show up late, own up to it rather than making up an elaborate excuse. If possible, call as soon as you realize that you will be late to let the interviewer know that you are on your way but something has delayed you.
- When you first meet the interviewer, shake hands, tell him you’re glad too meet him, and thank him for taking the time to meet with you.
Answering the Interviewer’s Questions
The bulk of a job interview is made up of answering the employer’s questions, and this is usually the most nerve-racking part, especially for teens just entering the workforce. Some tips that will help make the process a success for you include:
- Make eye contact (but don’t stare), and don’t fidget.
- Speak clearly and loudly enough that the interviewer can hear you without straining. Interviewers don’t want to have to ask you to repeat yourself three times any more than you do.
- The person interviewing you has likely done dozens (maybe even hundreds) of interviews – he can tell when a person is lying. For most managers, someone who lies in the interview, even about something apparently unimportant, is an automatic “no.” Also, don’t only say what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
- Don’t ramble on for five minutes after each question. The interviewer is looking for clear, concise answers. He likely has more interviews to do after yours, so he will appreciate it if your responses are short and to-the-point.
- At the same time, though, avoid answers that are too short. The interviewer probably wants an explanation, not just a “yes” or “no.”
The End of the Interview
The end of a job interview is just as important as the rest, yet teens often just get up and walk away when the interviewer says they have no more questions. Here are some things to remember to do at the end of the interview.
- When the interviewer asks if you have any questions for him, he is hoping that you will. If you took the time before the interview to think about the company and position enough to come with at least one question, he will be impressed.
- Again, make sure you shake hands with the interviewer and thank him for his time. Tell him that you are looking forward to hearing from him.
- Although not necessary, consider sending a post-interview thank you note. If you applied through email, you can send another quick email when you get home to thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Or, if the interviewer told you that it would be a couple weeks before a decision would be made, a mailed thank-you note would likely reach him in time. So few people do this (especially teens) that it will likely boost you to the top of the list of candidates.
These tips should help any teen do well at an interview. Hopefully afterwards, you’ll get that good-news phone call!