If you haven’t interviewed much (or at all), it can be a challenge to get yourself ready to ace the interview, but taking the time to practice will help you to get hired.
When you are a teen preparing for a job interview, it can be helpful to review typical interview questions that you will most likely be asked. Reviewing answers can also help you come up with your own responses. Take the time to personalize your answers, so that they reflect you both as a person and as a candidate for employment.
Practice Interviewing in Advance
It can be nerve-wracking to apply for a job as a teenager, since you don’t have much experience in the application and interview process.
It’s a good idea to practice answering the most commonly asked interview questions ahead of time.
The best strategy is to have a parent, sibling, or friend role-play the interview with you so that you can practice your answers, work on eye contact and body language, and gain experience in “thinking on your feet” before your interview.
You’ll find that this is also a great confidence-builder, so you’ll probably feel a lot less nervous when the time comes to talk with a hiring manager.
Watch Now: 7 Most Important Interview Tips for Teenagers
Common Teen Interview Questions
Here are 10 of the most commonly-asked questions that teens encounter during job interviews, along with samples of good answers. Do be sure to tailor your responses to fit your personal circumstances.
1. Why are you looking for a job?
What They Want to Know: Of course, everyone wants to make money at a job, but the reasons you should share with a potential employer should reflect your interest in the field, or in helping to develop your skill set.
My favorite hobby is baking for my family and friends. I’m hoping to gain restaurant experience in order to decide if I have what it takes to go to culinary school and become a pastry chef.
More Answers: Why Are You Looking for a Job?
2. Why are you interested in working for our company?
What They Want to Know: Employers ask this question to gauge your interest in the field, and to see if you have done your research. Make sure you check out the company’s website at the very least and familiarize yourself with what the company does, what the work and the work culture are like, and what’s important to them.
I am studying to become a LEEDS-certified architect at the University of ABC, and so I’d really like to get some “hands’ on” experience at a leading “green” construction firm so that, when the time comes, I’ll be able to collaborate well with construction managers, general contractors, and sub-contractors.
More Answers: Why Do You Want to Work Here?
3. How has school prepared you for working at our company?
What They Want to Know: Here is your opportunity to talk about the skills you have gained in your education that will make you an ideal candidate for the position. You can speak about extra-curricular activities as well as academics when you respond.
My best subject in high school is English, which is why I hope to go into digital marketing one day. I’m also a bit of a computer “geek” and know my way around Adobe Creative Cloud—I’ve used Photoshop, InDesign, and Publisher to design the layout of our school newspaper. I believe I have the communications and design skills you’re looking for in your next marketing intern.
4. Why should we hire you?
What They Want to Know: New hires take time to train, and the company wants to know you are worth it. Let them know about your interest in contributing to the company immediately, and be sure to mention if you think they are a firm you would like to consider when your studies are complete.
My teachers would tell you that I have an excellent work ethic. I have a perfect attendance record, have never been late for class, and am diligent in studying (which is why I’m an honors student). You should hire me because I’m quick off the mark, good at retaining information, and easily adapt to new processes.
5. What do you think it takes to be successful in this position?
What They Want to Know: The job posting can be very helpful in letting you know how they will want you to answer this question. Let the interviewer know about the skills you have that they are looking for. The closer you match the job requirements, the easier it will be to get hired.
Front-of-house staff need to be cheerful and focused on their customers’ needs—and I suspect that they also need to be mature enough to resolve any complaints tactfully. I’m an extrovert who loves engaging with others, which is why I was elected President of our student counsel. I’ve also done a lot of volunteer fundraising and event coordination for our school and my church, so I know how to work on teams, build morale, and create positive experiences for people.
6. How would you describe your ability to work as a team member?
What They Want to Know: There have likely been many times you have worked as a team, on projects, in sports or while volunteering. The interviewer will want to hear a specific example of a time you worked successfully in a team situation.
I’m very active in my high school band, and was chosen to serve as a band officer last year because of my enthusiasm for teamwork and my willingness to support my peers. I’m also first chair of our percussion section, and have led our section to repeated wins at state Solo and Ensemble competitions. I really enjoy coordinating practices and motivating our section members.
7. What has been your most rewarding accomplishment?
What They Want to Know: You don’t want to brag, but you should share an accomplishment that relates to some of the qualities or experiences required for the job you’re interviewing for. Sharing a story with your interviewer is a great way to showcase your accomplishments.
My biggest success, I think, was being accepted into university and offered a full scholarship based on my good grades and my enthusiastic leadership and participation in high school groups. My family immigrated here when I was in sixth grade, so it was a challenge to learn a new language and adapt to a new society. I’ll be the first of my family to attend college, and am so excited about what my future holds!
More Answers: What Were Your Biggest Successes and Failures?
8. What are your salary expectations?
What They Want to Know: With this question, the employer is trying to establish that your expectations are reasonable. As a young worker, the salary you are offered will probably align with an entry-level position. It’s usually best to avoid a specific number unless you know for a fact what the job pays.
I’m happy to negotiate my pay level, since the most important thing I want from this job is solid work experience and—I hope—positive referrals from you eventually. What did you pay the last entry-level person who did this job?
More Answers: Interview Questions About Your Salary Expectations
9. Tell me about a major problem you recently handled.
What They Want to Know: With this question, the interviewer is trying to determine how skilled you are at problem-solving. It’s fine to use an example from school, work, sports or volunteering. Make sure you show a positive resolution.
Our German club had raised the money to attend a convention in Leavenworth, Washington. We could afford our hotel and food, but the school system didn’t have the funding to provide us with a bus. Most of our parents work full-time, and so we weren’t getting enough volunteers for carpool drivers on our sign-up sheet. So I got a list of everyone’s parents and grandparents’ phone numbers and called them to explain our dire need for transportation. I guess I was convincing, because by the end of the day I had more than enough volunteer drivers.
More Answers: Interview Questions About Handling Problems
10. Have you ever had difficulty with a supervisor or teacher?
What They Want to Know: The interviewer will ask this question to determine how you relate to authority. Always answer honestly, but make sure that you have a positive outcome. Remember that the most difficult situations are sometimes the best learning experiences.
I love both playing varsity football and performing with our high school’s marching band. At first my coach and band director told me that I’d have to choose one or the other, since practices sometimes conflicted and there was no time to change at halftime into my band uniform. But I convinced them to compromise with me, since I’m a strong football team member and a first-chair trumpet player. The band director agreed to let me perform in my football uniform, and Coach let me leave football practice early on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I wouldn’t miss marching practice.
More Answers: Have You Ever Had Difficulty Working With a Manager?
Prepare for the Interview
Review these tips so that you’ll have all of the information you need to make a great impression at your next job interview.
Be Prepared. Don’t only show up for the interview. The more information you have prepared in advance, the better impression you will make on the interviewer. Take the time to get working papers (if you need them) and references before you start looking for a job. Do your research. Learn all you can about the position and the company.
The job posting and others for similar positions can offer valuable information about what they are looking for in a candidate. This will let you know what skills you should be emphasizing on your resume and in your interview.
Checking out the company website will give you insight into the company culture and about exactly what they do and aspire to accomplish.
All this information will allow you the opportunity to give complete, educated answers to anything the interviewer might ask.
What to Bring With You
Bring the following with you to the interview:
- Completed job application (if the employer doesn’t have it already)
- Working papers (if you need them)
- Resume (if you have one)
- Notepad / pen
Tips for Acing a Job Interview for Teens
Be Polite. It’s essential to have good manners when interviewing. Shake your interviewer’s hand. Make sure you listen carefully and thoughtfully to the interviewer. Don’t sit until you are invited to. Don’t slouch in your chair. Don’t use slang or swear. Be polite, positive, and professional throughout the interview.
Know Your Schedule. Know what days and hours you are available to work, as the employer will almost surely ask. Flexibility is an asset, because the more time you are available, the easier it is for the employer to set a work schedule. Also know how you are going to get to and from work if you don’t drive.
Be on Time. Arrive at the interview site a few minutes early. If you’re not sure where to go, get directions ahead of time. If you aren’t driving yourself, make sure you have a reliable ride.
Go on Your Own. If your mom or dad brings you to an interview, don’t bring them into the interview room with you. It’s important that you speak for yourself and connect with the interviewer, without someone else’s assistance. You need to present yourself as a mature, responsible candidate for employment.
How to Make the Best Impression
The key to successful interviewing for teens is to do exactly what a professional candidate for employment would do. That’s the best way to make a positive impression on a prospective employer and to enhance your chances of getting the job.
Take a few minutes to thank the person who interviewed you. If you have an email address, send an email thank-you note, otherwise send a paper note thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you.