As a teenager, the prospect of holding a potential first job can seem intimidating enough, and coupled with the looming job interview, the nerves can become overwhelming. There are some common mistakes that many teens make in the job interview process. However, each is easily fixable and simple to address to ensure the first impression is their best.
Having a successful job interview is absolutely within your control. You can can beat the competition by upping your game. Going into your job interview armed with a solid game plan will help you rise above the rest of the interviewee’s and give your potential employer a serious candidate to consider come hiring time.
The following is a list of the top ten mistakes teens make during interviews, and ideas on how to avoid them.
Top 10 Teen Job Interview Mistakes and Tips
1.) Not dressing the part
Many teens underestimate the power of the ironing board. Putting together a professional outfit indirectly tells the interviewer, “I care about this, and have enough confidence in myself to look my best.” Under-dressing can seem sloppy and lazy, two qualities no teen wants to bestow upon their future manager.
For boys, wear a good suit and tie if you have one. You know, like the own you would wear to on Sunday’s to church. If you don’t have one, then a simple button down shirt and good pants (not jeans or baggy pants) are perfect, while girls should don either a simple dress and sweater, or perhaps a mature-length skirt and blouse.
2.) Not grooming the part
The outfit is a crucial step, but only the first. Next is making sure that personal hygiene is in check. Wearing cologne or a spritz of perfume once again leaves an aura of confidence. However, balance is key in this step, as overdoing something as simple as perfume can be potentially very distracting.
A good rule of thumb on wearing perfume or cologne is don’t put on so much of it that the interviewer will walk away smelling like you!
3.) Not being prepared with typical questions
Ask friends, family members, or teachers what some typical interview questions might be, and prepare a well thought out answer for each one. Examples might include, “describe one of your weaknesses” or “what sets you apart as a candidate?” Having answers prepared in advance makes answering these much easier, and helps with on-the-spot jitters that can accompany interviews.
4.) Forgetting the power of role play
Although preparing answers is very helpful, taking preparation to the next step is to have another friend or family member pretend to be the interviewer. Role playing allows the chance for teens to make mistakes in a safe environment, and learn what to do for the real event. Have your parent or friend evaluate your performance and give you feedback that will help you.
Think about it, when actors put on a play or film their parts in movies, they rehearse their parts so much until they feel like they’ve perfected it, and some win Oscar’s for their work. You should prepare for your job interviews the same way, so rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
5.) Using slang
Although speaking in Shakespearean terms is unnecessary, teens should be reminded to maintain a professional tone throughout the interview, and be conscious to avoid slang. Although a few colloquial terms used sparsely help create a personal vibe, overuse seems immature.
Just don’t shake your job interviewer’s hand and say “What’s up, chief.” A simple, “Hello, I’m Jack, it’s a pleasure to meet you” with a smile and a firm handshake will do fine.
And when you get the job, ALWAYS keep your cool and never have an on-the-job-breakdown like these guys in the video.
6.) Forgoing the initial hand shake
Such a simple, but often overlooked, step of the interview process should be to shake the interviewer’s hand. This seemingly trivial act speaks loudly, assuring the interviewer that the teen is mature, prepared, and respectful.
When you meet the job interviewer and shake their hand, shake it FIRMLY but not hard enough to crush their bones. A firm handshake along with a friendly smile makes you look confident and enthusiastic about being there… and that’s what all employers want- employees that are happy to be there.
7.) Forgetting a resume
Depending on the job being sought after, some employers may want a resume and others may not. However, it is always a good idea to bring one to the interview. Over preparation is much better than under preparation.
So put together a job resume even if you don’t have much experience to put on it, employer’s will appreciate your effort and hunger for work.
8.) Not ending with a question
Asking the interviewer a well thought out question is a great way to bring conclusion to the interview. It shows them that you don’t know everything about the job/company, but enforces the idea that you are willing to learn more about the company or job.
9.) Not ending with a final remark
After asking a question, leaving the interviewer with a final word on how much they want the job can make all the difference between a call back or not. Something as simple as, “Thank you for your time. I may not be able to promise you I am the smartest candidate, but I can promise I will work the hardest” is sure to make the teen stand out.
Just remember, when you say it, you must BELIEVE that you will be the hardest worker out of all of the other people they will be interviewing. They will remember your confidence and enthusiasm so make sure you back it up if they hire you. “Talk the talk,” but make sure you also “walk the walk.”
10.) Not showing interest
The final mistake is the most avoidable. Show interest in the job! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again- it’s all about your enthusiasm and you being hungry for the job. If you appear lackluster or blasé about the potential opportunity, the employer is sure to feel the same way about you. A smile and engaged eye contact shows the interviewer that you are eager to start.
You have the potential to be a hard-working employee if they only gave you a chance. You probably say it to yourself all the time, so practice the tips above and you will see a higher rate of success.
Remember that not only surviving, but mastering, the job interview process is a skill that you can develop and it can help you succeed in opening doors for a multitude of future opportunities.
If you have any job interview tips or success stories of your own that you would like to share, please comment below!