No matter if you’re a seasoned career veteran who has been through countless interviews or are looking for your first part-time job, nearly everyone gets a little nervous before an interview. The onus is on the employer and the interviewer to help you feel calm and relaxed during an interview. However, everyone should thoroughly prepare for an interview before it occurs.
Every employer should adequately prepare for an interview. This includes researching the candidate on social media, reviewing their resume and cover letter, and preparing a list of questions to ask during the interview. But when interviewing a teen candidate, you will want to ensure that you give them the best possible situation to shine and showoff their skills and expertise.
Employers are acutely aware of a candidate’s work experiences when they come in for an interview. They typically look to customize the questions for their audience and ensure that the candidate is able to answer the question confidently and accurately. When an interviewer interviews a teenager, they understand that this is likely one of their first interviews and generally for their first job.
Interview questions for teens typically revolve more around education and a forward-looking atmosphere. Employers are not expecting these teenage candidates to remain in the position for the rest of their life, so they like to get a general sense of what they can expect and how long the candidate expects to remain at the position.
Employers also like to get a sense of why the candidate wants the position. For many positions that are seasonal, retail, or at a big box grocer, the employer may assume it is for extra spending cash. However, if the candidate is looking at more specialized roles and companies, the interviewer may look to see how experience with them may help the teen with their future career.
Questions for Teens
Question – Why are you looking for a position at this company?
Answer – Be honest. Let the employer know why you want to work for the company and what you are looking to gain while working there. Employer’s understand if the reason is for some additional cash or if it’s for something to do and keep yourself busy after school.
Question – What are your plans after high school?
Answer – Again, be honest. If you plan on going away for college, let the employer know. If you plan on going to college, but close to home, then let the interviewer know. Even if you plan on going away for college in just a few months, many employers may offer you part-time, and short-term, employment as needed.
Question – Why are you the best candidate for the role?
Answer – Let the interviewer know that you are a hard worker, that you are dedicated, and that you are committed. Give real-world examples of times where you went above-and-beyond on a classroom project or a familial errand. Speak to personal experiences and how you have always kept your word and been an honest individual.
Question – Why Are You the Perfect Person for This Role?
This is one of the most common questions asked to students and recent graduates. In fact, this question is commonly asked to more experienced candidates as well. As a student, you may lack a significant amount of work experience and history. Therefore, when answering this question, you should focus on core competencies and abilities.
These core competencies and abilities will be more of a soft skill, rather than a hard skill learnt over the course of your working history. Students should focus on their abilities and their willingness, over their specific experience. Answering in a manner that indicates an ability and willingness will be seen as a greater strength than one based on previous work experience, which may be limited.
- Discuss your strong work ethic and perseverance to complete a project or task
- Discuss your willingness and ability to learn quickly
- Provide examples and scenarios of times you had to think critically and solve complex problems
- Provide examples of times you had to make a major decision
- Indicate your ability to be an organized individual
- Indicate your ability to communicate effectively
Question – Name Your Biggest Achievement in College
So, this question is unique to recent graduates and college students. The interviewer is looking to differentiate you from the rest of the candidates. Understanding that, they would like you to name an achievement that you reached in college.
Ideally, you should look to avoid answers which are common and are not unique to your situation. Stating that you did well or graduated on-time are answers that other college aged applicants will also have. Rather, look to discuss major achievements and accomplishments you had while in college.
This can include running for student office, maintaining a high GPA while playing for the varsity team, or starting an organization or chapter and making it successful. These accomplishments will be unique to you and will be different than other answers the interviewer may receive.
Question – What Was Your Major or Area of Concentration in College?
Employers are often curious as to an interviewee’s major or college concentration. And although it should be listed on your resume, the interviewer would like to get a better sense of why you majored in a particular subject. If asked this question, provide the interviewer not just the major you graduated with, but the impetus behind choosing that major.
Employers like to see a level and sense of passion from their candidates. A candidate that discusses their college major eloquently and in passionate detail will leave a much better impression than a candidate that doesn’t seem enthusiastic or excited about their choice.
Question – How Would Your Friends Describe You?
Typically, many employers will reach out to previous employers for references. However, as a recent graduate or college student, you may have a limited set of references for them to reach out to. So, rather than clamoring for any reference, the interviewer may ask you directly what your references, or in this case your friends, would say about you.
Obviously, you will want to only include positive descriptions. But you don’t want to provide descriptions which aren’t valued by the interviewer. Interviewers, generally, want a candidate who is hard-working, reliable, dependable, and resourceful. Utilizing these words and similar ones will help to make a good impression on the interviewer.
Question – Why Do You Want This Job?
The obvious answer is money. That is the wrong answer. While the interviewer understands that all candidates want a job for the financial independence it provides, they are looking for more complex and in-depth answers. If asked this question, you should relate it to your passion for the subject and area the employer focuses on. You can then indicate your dream of working in that field and gaining that experience as a starting point for your career.
In addition, you can discuss what you know about the company. Discussing the company culture, the intriguing projects, and the future growth of the company are all perfectly acceptable answers. The important thing to remember with this question is that you should show passion and a desire to work at that company.
Question – Tell Me About A Time You Disagreed with A Professor or Manager.
Disagreements in the workplace happen. However, understanding how to navigate those disagreements is more important than the disagreements themselves. When asking this question, an interviewer is looking to see how you navigated the disagreement and what steps you took to resolve the issue.
The best way to answer this question is to discuss a time that a disagreement occurred. This can be a large or small disagreement. You should then discuss what steps you took to resolve the issue and how you both came to a mutually agreeable situation.
Showing how you navigated a disagreement and came to a resolution will show the interviewer your maturity and ability to resolve issues. It will also show the interviewer your thought process behind the issue resolution and what specific steps you opted to take to ensure a pleasant relationship.
Question – Tell Me About A Time You Had to Manage A Tight Schedule or Deadline
More often than not, many schedules and projects will have tight deadlines and require a decent level of organization to ensure completion. With that in mind, an interviewer may look to see how you handled previous schedules or deadlines, particularly with a narrow window to complete.
When answering this question, be sure to be detailed on what was needed, what the schedule or timeline was, and what steps you too to ensure the deadline was met. This will show your organizational skills and competencies and will prove to the interviewer your ability to manage a project.
Question – Tell me about a strength of yours.
Answer – Again, utilize real-world examples and times where you have shown strength. This can be something personal or something that you did in class. Talk about how you have perseverance, how you are honest and trustworthy, and how you are dedicated. You can also talk about your willingness to ensure customer satisfaction and upkeep your reputation for perfection.
Question – Are you available on weekends?
Answer – You should answer honestly, but you should look to be free on weekends. Weekends are when you will have the most time to commit to the job and where you will get the bulk of your hours. For entry-level and part-time positions, working on the weekend is common practice.
Question – How would you handle a difficult or irate customer?
Answer – Without customers, the company would be out of business and you would not have a job. No matter how happy or upset a customer is, you want to ensure that their experience is pleasant and cordial. You should answer that you would look to find out why the customer is upset and see what you can do to make it better.
Question – What would you do if you saw a fellow employee stealing from the company?
Answer – The interviewer wants to see how honest you are. If you see another employee stealing, you should tell them to stop and report it to management.
Question – Do you have your own transportation or a reliable method to get to work?
Answer – You should have reliable transportation or a reliable method to get to work. Don’t hesitate on this question and let the interviewer know that you do have reliable transportation. If you don’t, you can coordinate the details after you’ve received the job offer.
Question – What do you know about this company?
Answer – Make sure you do your research before the interview. You should know the basics about the company and why it’s an attractive company to work for. Speak to how the company was started and how you found that story inspiring. If you really love the field, tell the interviewer about how you would like to start a similar company in the future.
Question – Did job pays $X per hour, is that agreeable with you?
Answer – Generally, at this stage in your career, you don’t have too much negotiating power. If the per hour rate is not agreeable to you, you may have limited options and may need to forfeit that job option.
Question – What are your weaknesses?
Answer – You want to provide an answer that isn’t too weak, but something that can be fixed or shows that you are working on improving. A good example is that you like to complete a task by yourself, but you are working on trusting others that you work with to help you.
Question – Do you have any volunteering or community service experience?
Answer – Be honest here whether or not you have volunteering or community service experience.
Question – How do you imagine a typical workday?
Answer – Employers want to ensure that you understand the job will require a certain amount of effort and work, day-in and day-out. They also want to ensure that you will not simply spend all your time on your phone during your work shift. If asked this question, discuss how you expect to work on the responsibilities listed on the job requirement and that if you find yourself with downtime, you aim to either help with cleanup and restocking or that you will ask your manager if there is anything else you can help with.
Question – How would your friends, family, or teachers describe you?
Answer – The interviewer wants to see who you really are. They want to make sure that you are a loyal, committed, and honest individual. Don’t mention how your friends find you a prankster, or that your teachers find you unmotivated, those answers won’t help you land the job.
Question – Who would you consider to be your role model and why?
Answer – The interviewer wants to see the why here. Why is this person your role model and why do you look up to them? It’s always a safe answer to say a parent or guardian and you look up to them for their hard work and commitment to the family.
Question – Do you have any technical skills that will be beneficial for this role?
Answer – Once again, be honest. The interviewer is attempting to gauge your capabilities and what additional skills you would be able to offer to the role.
Question – Would you consider yourself proficient on social media? Would you be able to help us with our social media efforts?
Answer – Many companies are owned by older, less technically proficient individuals. This is especially true with smaller, mom-and-pop shops. They may need some extra help with their social media marketing and advertising efforts.
If you don’t have these skills, let the interviewer know that you are aware and comfortable on those tools, but that you are also willing to work on acquiring those skills. You can begin studying them here. Doing so and helping an employer with their social media marketing would be a great skill to place on your resume and can help you land an internship during your college career.
Additional Questions for Teens
- What is loyalty to you?
Many teens grew up with the Great Recession and financial collapse occurring during their teenage years. Many of them saw family members and friends lose their homes, their cars, and their savings. They are wary of trusting employers and businesses, many of whom they believe do not reciprocate the loyalty their employees show.
By asking them what loyalty is to them, you’ll be able to get a better sense of what they are looking for in a job and a career. You’ll be able to reassure them of the employer’s commitment to their employees and staff and show examples of how the employer was loyal to their staff.
- What hours are you most productive at?
The workplace is changing rapidly. Many companies are opting to allow employees to work from home permanently and are offering more flexible scheduling. This scheduling and work from home opportunities have been shown to increase employee satisfaction and morale.
By asking this question, you are showing the candidate that you are in tune with a changing reality and have flexible options available for your staff. This will also help you to attract the brightest and most capable candidates.
- Have you ever been passed up for a promotion or award? How did you feel and what did you do about it?
While we don’t believe in the generalizations that have been labeled on teens, you will still want to do your due diligence. By asking this question, you are looking to see that the candidate understands that they may not win every award or receive a promotion each year.
- How do you see an employee-employer relationship?
Employee-employer relationships are critical to the success of a company. Frayed, broken, and distrustful relationships between the parties can be detrimental to the health and success of a company. However, employer-employee relationships are sensitive issues, which must be delicately maneuvered. Ensuring that the candidate understands this relationship and the implicit hierarchy will ensure a positive, healthy working environment.
- Do you find purpose in your work and in this industry?
Many teens look to find purpose and a sense of doing good in their work. This trend has been beneficial in the push for more responsible, ethical actions by large and small companies alike. Asking the candidate this question helps you to better prepare for their being on the team. If they are looking to make impactful, purposeful changes, you can help to guide them in the workplace to do so accurately.
- Can you tell me about a time you had to handle a difficult, irate, or upset customer?
You want to make sure that there is no sense of entitlement in the candidate. This isn’t specific to teens only and may be important to ask across the board. Look to see how the candidate would handle an irate or upset customer and the specific steps they would take to handle and resolve the situation.
- Have you ever disagreed with your manager? What did you do and how did you handle it?
Disagreements between colleagues, coworkers, and managers can occur in the workplace. However, understanding how to handle and navigate these disagreements ensures that everyone is heard, and a unified decision is made on how to move forward. This question is useful to try to understand how the candidate would handle disagreements and to ensure that they do not feel entitled to their way every time
Things to Bring to Interview
Being prepared for the interview requires bringing along a variety of different materials to the interview. When considering what to bring to an interview, you should ask yourself what items you may need during the interview itself. As a recommendation, you should bring multiple copies of your resume, ideally printed on resume paper.
In addition to multiple resumes, it is useful to bring a professional notebook. This notebook should have your notes and your previously written interview questions to ask the interviewer. You should supplement the notebook with a nice, sleek looking pen that will help you appear more professional and polished.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring identifying documents, including your state license or passport. This will help to identify you for the front desk or security in the building.
Questions to Ask Interviewer
An interview is, in its very nature, a two-way street. It requires communication and asking questions from both participants. Interviewers like to see candidates who are engaged and who understand the nuances of the role and their expectations. In addition, interviewers like to see candidates who are intrigued and curious about specifics of the role.
As-such, it is important to remember to ask the interviewer a set number of questions regarding the role and the opportunity. These should be questions that are related to the aspect of the role and not related to time off, work from home opportunities, or other human resource type questions.
Ideally, you should prepare for your interview by writing down 3-5 questions to ask the interviewer. This will help you to have a set of questions to ask and will help you to avoid not being able to think of some questions.
Interview questions for teens typically tend to be easier and more straightforward than questions for career professionals. As the interview is usually for entry-level or part-time work, the questions tend to revolve around availability and future ambitions.
As an interviewee, you will want to show your willingness, commitment, honesty, and eagerness to learn. Don’t come off as arrogant or a know-it-all. Rather, show that you understand that you are young but that you are hungry and have a desire to learn.
You likely won’t be asked behavioral based questions or examples of previous work experiences. The questions should be straightforward and you shouldn’t have a problem answering them honestly and truthfully.