As parents, we all want our children to be successful.
Whether it’s an interview for their first paying job, a volunteer position, or to get into college, you can’t help but want to make that experience as easy and smooth as possible.
I know, as a parent of two teens myself, I want to do all that I can to ensure that any potential employer sees them as a viable candidate.
So what kind of advice should you give to your teen?
The first bit of advice you should give your child is to be prepared.
They should dress appropriately, with their hair neatly combed, minimal makeup for girls, and a friendly smile.
They should take a notepad and a pen to take notes, jot down questions, and to contribute to an appearance of eager enthusiasm.
When you’re interviewing for your first job, anxiety can get the better of you. Remind your teen to be confident, to remember who they are and what they’re capable of.
They’re selling themselves to an employer, and you can’t sell yourself if you don’t have faith in your abilities.
Lack of experience will never be a deal breaker, as long as they can take other life experience and relate it to the job.
Your child’s interviewer is going to ask a variety of questions. Some of them will have answers that require your child to determine how to put their best foot forward despite the potential negativity of the question.
Why are you looking for a job?
Your teen’s answer could be as simple as wanting a car, or as complex as needing to save for college expenses.
Encourage your child to give an answer that is honest, clear and concise, as the interviewer will appreciate the honesty.
Why do you want to work for us?
This is the question that can often get adults in trouble.
Encourage your teen to check out the company’s website, get to know the company culture, and come up with an answer that shows what kind of contribution she can make, rather than giving an answer such as “I want to buy a car.”
Buying a car may be the reason behind getting a job, but as a reason to work for a specific company, it won’t land your child the position they seek.
Tell me about your worst quality (or a big problem you recently resolved).
The interviewer will listen to the answer to this question very carefully, so encourage your child to take the time to find a true weakness, as well as a description of what has already been done to fix it, and what steps will be taken in the future to fix it.
Encourage your teen to put the weakness in context as well.
Have you ever had a conflict with an authority figure?
This is another question that most interviewers will pay close attention to, and requires a positive spin on a negative situation.
Saying no to this question will make the interviewer suspicious, so encourage your child to think of any time he’s been at odds with someone who has authority over him – a teacher, a supervisor, or even you.
The interviewer wants to hear that your child was able to handle that conflict with confidence, maturity, and grace.
Always be ready to learn
Learning new skills is a part of any new job, and it should start during the interview process.
Encourage your child to ask questions about the company, the culture, the job, other jobs that might be available now and in the future, and anything else that comes to mind.
Remind him to show his interviewer that he is eager to learn, eager to get started, and excited to be there.
Advise her to pay attention to the answers to her questions, and to everything else her interviewer says.
While she may deem the information unimportant or irrelevant, her attention shows the interviewer she cares.
The more she remembers of what the interviewer says, the more likely she is to stand out in the interviewer’s mind long after the interview is over.
Send a thank you
Whether you send a thank you email or a handwritten thank you note, always make sure your teen remembers to thank the interviewer for their time and for considering him for the position.
Many people don’t send thank you notes, and this alone could be enough to make him stand out from the crowd and get the job.
Interviewing for a job, a volunteer gig or entrance into the university of your dreams is never easy.
As parents, it’s our job to do all that we can to prepare our children for these moments.
Practice mock interviews to give your teen a chance to work out their nerves, practice their answers and build up their confidence before they go out for the real thing.
Work with them to come up with solid, positive answers to the most common interview questions.
Ensure they have reliable transportation, a good alarm, and the right clothes to make sure that they make the best possible first impression on their interviewer.
Most of all, remind them that everyone has interviews that don’t lead to a job. It’s perfectly normal, and they shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Make sure your child knows that even if they don’t get this job, there’s definitely a job out there for them. They just have to keep trying.