After being on both sides of the employment path — being the interviewee and the interviewer — I learned what young candidates should do and not do on their first job interview. I’ve seen candidates walk in with a casual attitude, dressed in jeans and sneakers, chewing gum, fabricate stories about prior job duties and stumble over questions due to lack of knowledge. I never understood why anyone would behave in this way for an interview especially since my mother taught me otherwise.
As a high school graduate, I was nervous about my first job interview. I had no prior job experience, little knowledge on computer software and no professional attire. However, my mother and sister came to my rescue. My mother invested in a couple of professional pantsuits and my sister tutored me on the skills I needed some polishing. We practiced the interview process until I felt confident enough.
It is normal for you and your child to fear his first job interview. After all, it is an important milestone in his life. This is the first time he will enter the business world. Nevertheless, with your guidance and comfort, you can ease some of his nerves. You want him to do the best he can.
Below are 5 pieces of advice for your child’s first job interview:
- Be honest on the resume. Since this is your child’ first interview, it is understood he has no prior work experience. Your child should not include job duties he supposedly did or skills he is not familiar with. Interviewers do follow-up with the information provided and test skills. If your child performed administrative work at school or volunteered at your local hospital or church, by all means include that.
- Positive attitude. Your child should not carry an overconfident or a carefree attitude. He should meet somewhere in the middle. Show confidence, but with the understanding he is willing to learn. Teach your child it is OK to ask questions about the job duties and hours, but to avoid asking about salary and vacation unless the topics are mentioned by the interviewer. Speak respectfully, be polite and always give a firm handshake.
- Dress appropriately. Jeans, tee-shirts, mini-skirts, shorts and sneakers is a mistake. Take your child shopping for an affordable suit. A professional appearance is always important.
- Arrive early. Teach your child the importance of being on time. Showing up late without calling is a negative start to the interview. If you are driving your child or your child is going on his own, the child must call if he foresees being late. Everyone understands things do happen such as traffic and train delays.
- Practice with your child. Take a half hour each day, until the day of the interview, and practice with your child. Pretend you are the interviewer and go over some questions. Practice the handshake, the smile and the body language. Practice makes perfect. Here are some more tips on helping teens prepare for a new job.
This is your child’s first interview. You want it to go flawlessly. Guide him the best possible way. Your goal, and that of your child, is to leave the interviewer with a positive impression.
Mayra Bitsko is a freelance writer, the author of A Second Chance and The Past Beckons and holds a master’s degree in business administration-accounting. Contact her at www.mrsmbitsko.com