Tips for a successful job interview while young

Going to any interview can be downright intimidating, and going to your first job interview is no exception. Without any prior work experience to point to, you have to somehow try to convince the employer that you’re a good choice.

Luckily, most interviews for jobs in high school and early college jobs aren’t too grueling. Most employers will ask some simple questions to get to know you and then make a decision. The way you present yourself in an interview will usually make more of an impact than whatever you have on your short resume.
Employers want workers who see the job as more than just a paycheck — they want workers who actually care about what they do. If you can give the impression in your job interview that you do care, then you’ll have a much better shot at getting hired. Here are four ways I’ve found pretty helpful:

Come to the interview well-dressed and well-groomed.

You don’t need to rent a tuxedo or anything, but wearing moderately-formal clothes will reflect on you much better than a teenager who comes in wearing typical casual clothes. Remember, dress professional, not formal. Wear something you would expect higher-ups in the company to wear. Show it!

Make sure you’re clean and your appearance is kept up. Brush your teeth, make sure you smell decent, and comb your hair. If you’re a guy and don’t have well-styled facial hair, then you need to shave. If you’re really serious about the job, you might even consider getting your haircut a few days before the interview.

Be enthusiastic and have a positive attitude.

You need to convince employers that you want to work there. Talk as if this is the only job in the world you could possibly want, not as if you’re just looking for some extra money. Mention how much you like the place as a customer, how you like what they do, etc. If you seem enthusiastic about working there, this reflects very well on you.
Come in with a smile, and be very friendly and polite to everybody, including other employees and customers, and not just to the person conducting the interview.

Answer questions clearly.

There are a lot of standard interview questions, such as “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” and the extremely blunt, “why should I hire you?” Many employers for low-end jobs will ask a lot of simple questions about you — your school life, any past work experience, any special skills you have.

If you can give well-worded answers to most of these questions, this helps you a lot. Instead of saying, “I do well in school”, say “I do pretty well in school — I take some honors classes and get mostly A’s and B’s”. Point out things that will reflect well on you as a worker, whether it’s your schoolwork or other work experience you have.

Ask questions back!

If you have any questions at all about the job, ask! Not only will this get you answers, it will also show that you’re taking an active interest in the job.
Getting a job as a teenager always involves at least some luck. Not every interview will go well, nor will every employer call you back. But if you can make a solid impression through a solid job interview, your chances will be much better.

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