5 Interview tips and job interview questions for teens
So, you’ve found the perfect job, applied and scored an interview. Congrats! You’re making great progress towards getting that first job.
Think of your teen years as a test run for being a full-fledged adult. Now’s the time to get some work experience under your belt and start earning some sweet paychecks.
But you’ve got to ace an interview to get a job, and interviews are pretty nerve-wracking.
Don’t worry! Calm the butterflies with these five interview tips for starters. Then use our five practice job interview questions to go into your interview feeling confident.
5 job interview tips for teens
1. Don’t be late!
First impressions matter. Even if it isn’t your fault, your potential employer won’t be okay with tardiness. It gives the impression that you aren’t reliable and that you don’t value others’ time.
Don’t waste all of your hard work! Practice your route the day before the interview. This will help you determine the best time to leave on the day of the interview.
Remember, get to your interview 15 minutes early. Leave a little earlier than usual if you’re worried about the time.
2. Dress up
We get it. You might not want to come off as too stuffy or overdressed in a job interview.
Jeans and a t-shirt are comfy, but they don’t give the best impression.
Regardless of what you’ll be wearing at the actual job, take it up at least a notch or two from your every day. It’s okay to be a little casual for fast food or warehouse jobs, but leave the flip flops at home.
On the other hand, don’t be too formal. Unless you’re applying for an office support job or a prestigious internship, a suit is probably too much.
Instead, wear business casual attire. Try khakis and a nice, collared shirt (and a tie wouldn’t hurt). If you’re female-presenting, a tailored top and dress pants or knee-length skirt are also good choices. In general, it’s best to avoid showing too much skin.
Pro tip: be careful if you’re interviewing at a retail store. You don’t want to wear clothes with a competitor’s logo. So if you’re interviewing at Hollister, don’t wear your Abercrombie shirt.
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare
A hiring manager can tell when you’ve prepared for the interview. You’re able to answer questions and come off as more confident. Show that you’re serious about the job by preparing ahead of time.
Know the basics of the company: what it sells, and who it sells to. Remember the name of your interviewer, and maybe even look them up on LinkedIn beforehand. This shows that you have an interest in the company and the job.
Come with at least three follow up questions to ask your interviewer so it isn’t a one-sided conversation. Bring a pad of paper and pen to remember your questions and take notes while you talk to the interviewer.
But when we say prepare, we don’t mean you have to write a script. Nobody wants to talk to a robot. Be yourself! Job interviews are your chance to show employers what it would be like working with you. Show your real self so they can hire the real you.
4. Watch your body language
Everybody gets nervous in job interviews. The key is to not show that you’re anxious.
Do you have any nervous tics? Do you rub your arm, jiggle your foot or fidget with a pen? Notice these behaviors and try to keep them under control so you don’t distract your interviewer. A distracted interviewer won’t notice or remember your best qualities!
Even if you feel like a nervous wreck, you want to look calm and professional. Practice your “interview posture” in the mirror to make sure you look confident, relaxed and professional ahead of time. Sit still during the job interview. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact and keep your shoulders up.
5. Mind your manners
Manners seem like common sense, but interviewers still report a lot of weird behavior from teen interviewees.
Use these quick job interview tips to avoid interview missteps like:
Your phone going off. Turn your phone off and keep it in your pocket or bag for the entire interview. Don’t check texts or other notifications during the interview.
A “dead fish” handshake. Practice shaking hands with your parents or friends—it might sound dorky, but if you’re new to shaking hands, you don’t want the interview to be the moment you learn!
Accidentally cursing. Interviewers never want to hear you curse, even if you stub your toe in the interview room. Even if the interviewer curses, don’t use language a grandma wouldn’t like.
Being too casual. Address your interviewer by the name, title, and pronouns they tell you too. If they introduce themselves as “Ms. Boss,” don’t address them as “Maria”!
Talking over your interviewer. This is a two-way conversation. Wait for natural pauses or for your interviewer to ask a question before speaking.
Paying more attention to your texts than the interview. Put your phone away. Yes, we already mentioned it, but it’s worth saying twice! Believe us, interviewers hate to see your phone during your interview.
Even if you’re interviewing at a more laid back company, good manners never go out of style.
Practice these 5 job interview questions and answers
Employers use your interview answers to gauge how ready you are to handle responsibility at work. That’s why it’s so important to practice job interview questions and answers.
Start practicing as soon as possible before your interview. Make a list of common interview questions and have a few answers prepared.
Here are the most common questions you’ll encounter:
Job interview question #1: “Tell me a little about yourself.”
This question is tricky. They aren’t asking about your pets or hobbies (or life story). Employers ask this question to get a high-level view of your skills, interests and experience.
Use this question to detail your plans for the present and the future. Keep your answer brief and relevant to the job to make a good impression.
Example: “I’m in my junior year of high school and I’m looking for a part-time job after school. I thought XYZ Shoes would be a great fit for my experience and skills.”
Job interview question #2: “Why do you want to work for us?”
Even if your real answer might be “because I need money,” this is a chance to explain why you’re a good fit for the job.
Why did you apply to this specific job? Do you admire the company? Are you a regular customer?
Answer the question so you emphasize the talents that you bring to the team.
Example: “I applied to XYZ Shoes because my family shops here regularly. I also think my listening skills make me a good fit for the company.”
Job interview question #3: “What extracurricular activities do you participate in?”
Now is when you get to talk about hobbies and clubs.
But don’t go off on a tangent! Choose no more than three activities. Each activity you list should reflect a skill the employer would find valuable.
Most sports, academic clubs, and activities have probably taught you some things about yourself and how you work with a team, how to listen and communicate, and how to set and achieve goals. These are great “hooks” for showing an employer why they should hire you and you should definitely mention that!
Example: “For the past year, I’ve served as the president of the fashion club at school, which is why I’m so interested in the fashion industry. That’s one reason why I want to work at XYZ shoes.”
Job interview question #4: “Why should I hire you?”
This is the interviewer asking why you’re the best choice out of all the applicants. It’s a hard question to answer, but it’s your chance to sell yourself and make a great impression.
Look at the job description and identify which duties you would excel at. Tie that into your answer to show that you’ll not only fulfill the job requirements but exceed them.
Example: “I’m an extrovert who loves working with and helping people. I saw this position calls for customer service, and my strong interpersonal skills would be a great fit.”
Job interview question #5: “What’s your biggest weakness?”
Don’t start rattling off all of your inadequacies. That’s just asking for a weird, TMI moment with your interviewer.
This job interview question is actually asking how you address your weaknesses in the workplace. Everybody has a weakness, so don’t say, “I don’t have a weakness!”
Admit a valid weakness, like perfectionism, organization, or fear of public speaking. Immediately follow that weakness with how you overcome it.
Example: “My biggest weakness is organization. I get so into the zone that I don’t always keep my work area as tidy as I should. I compensate by following checklists and cleaning up as I go, so everything stays organized and tidy.”
You’ve got this
The best advice we can give you is to take a deep breath. Staying calm and preparing ahead of time will put you ahead of other candidates for your first interview.
Follow our five golden job interview tips and practice these top five job interview questions. You got this!
Want more interview prep? Check out our resources to be the GOAT at interviewing.