Job interview tips for teens

Here is some advice to help calm your nerves and get you prepared for your interview. 

Amy White |

So, you’ve found the perfect job, applied and scored an interview. Congrats! You’re well on your way to #adulting. 

But interviews can be scary, especially if this is your first job. Don’t worry! Let’s calm those butterflies in your stomach with these five tips to prepare for your first job interview. 

5 tips to prepare for your first interview:

1. Don’t be late!

First impressions matter. Even if it isn’t your fault, your potential employer isn't okay with tardiness. It gives the impression that you aren’t reliable and that you don’t value others’ time. 

But seriously. You could lose a part-time job if you're as little as two minutes late.

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. 

Get to your interview 15 minutes early. When in doubt, leave a little earlier. 

2. Dress up

We get it. Some teens don’t want to come off as too stuffy or overdressed in a job interview. 

Sure, 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, dress up. It’s okay to be a little casual, but leave the flip flops at home. 

Instead, wear business casual attire.

Unless you’re applying for an office support job or a prestigious internship, a suit is probably too much.

Wear khakis and a nice, collared shirt. A tailored top and knee-length skirt are also a good choice. 

Remember to do the “shake test” before you leave home. Jump up and down and wiggle in front of the mirror to make sure you're appropriately dressed. When in doubt, cover up.

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 even come off as more confident. Show that you’re hireable by preparing ahead of time. 

Know an overview of the company’s history and what it sells. Remember the name of your interviewer and research them on LinkedIn. 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.

But when we say prepare, we don’t mean you have to write a script. 

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. 

This means you’ll work at a job that values your true self, so it will be more fun to work there!

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 so you don’t drive your interviewer crazy. 

Sit still during the job interviewer. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact and have a firm handshake. 

Even if you feel like a nervous wreck, you want to look calm and professional.

5. Practice interview questions

Employers use your interview answers to gauge how successful you would be at the job. That’s why it’s so important to practice job interview questions beforehand. 

Start practicing a week 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 as a teen interviewee.

“Tell me a little about yourself.”

This question is tricky. They aren’t asking about your pets or hobbies. Employers ask this question to get a high-level view of your skills, interests and experience. 

Use this question to answer your plans for the present and the future. Keep your answer brief and relevant to the job to make a good impression.

“Why do you want to work for us?”

Even though the real answer might be “because I need money,” it’s 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 to emphasize the talents that you could bring to the team. 

“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. 

If you’re president of Spanish club, that would be a great way to talk about your language and leadership skills. 

“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.

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. 

You got this!

Want more interview prep? Check out our resources to be the GOAT at interviewing.