Whether teens are looking for a summer internship or full time employment, an interview may be the key to getting the position they cover. But according to Sharon Cohen, co-partner of Career Quarterback, three out of seven candidates do not know how to properly prepare for an interview. Says Cohen, “Many young adults need help developing interview and presentation skills.”Here are 10 Tips on How Teens Can Put Their Best Foot Forward
Before The Interview
- Understand the Company and the Job
Do online research and become familiar with both the company as a whole and the specific job being filled. Cohen says, “During the interview highlight something you have read about the company. It shows the interviewer that you are truly interested in working there.”
- Establish an Online Business Profile
Cut and paste your resume onto LinkedIn and set up a professional account. Keep your LinkedIn account updated.
- Research the Person Conducting the Interview
Find out professional information about the person conducting the interview through LinkedIn and a Google search. Says Cohen, “Interviewers expect a candidate to take the time to find out about them. But do not check out or reference their personal profiles such as what they post on Facebook.”
- If Possible, Get an Agenda of the Day
Try to find out the exact schedule for the day so you can plan accordingly.
For example, ask how many people will be interviewing you. Years ago, when I went on my first job interview, my mother accompanied me into the city and planned to wait in a coffee shop until I was done. I had no idea that I would be interviewed by three people and then taken to lunch (and back then there were no cell phones for me to tell her.) My poor mom waited in that coffee shop for over four hours! Luckily I got the job!
At the Interview
- Don’t Arrive Too Early
Yes, be on time but don’t arrive an hour early. Says Cohen, “Fifteen minutes prior is more than enough. If you get in earlier, hang out at a Starbucks rather than being too prompt.”
- Dress Appropriately
First impressions are important, make a good one with appropriate attire. Says Cohen, “ We suggest a man always where a suit and tie and a women, a dress or skirt and top with tights and flats. Even if the overall feel of the office is more casual, it is still better to come dressed in business attire,” Cohen also suggests women accessorize with a nice scarf, piece of jewelry and handbag. Cohen adds, “It does not have to be expensive, in fact, it shouldn’t be because, depending on the office environment, they may never have to wear these types of clothes beyond the interview. ”
- Do Not Bring Up Salary or Vacation or Benefits
If the interviewer brings any of these topics up, answer honestly about your salary expectations. But do not be the one to introduce these topics especially at a first interview.
- Remain Professional
Even if the interviewer starts getting chummy and familiar, the candidate must remain professional throughout. Even if the interviewer is only a few years older than you, remember you are not hanging out with a friend. Says Cohen, “It is fine to ask questions such as ‘What got you interested in this industry?’, but avoid anything other than job related subjects. ”
After the Interview
- Follow Up With a Thank You
While a handwritten thank you is always nice, sometimes it is best to follow up an interview with an email. Cohen explains, “You want to have your thank you on the interviewer’s desk within 24 hours. It shows your interest and that is especially important if they are filling the job right away.” Make sure on any written communication the spelling (especially the names of the interviewers) and grammar are perfect.
10. Continue Networking
In addition to college career centers, use search sites such as indeed to look for jobs and internships. Cohen advises, “Don’t be too specific. Keep the initial search broad and then weed out the positions you are not right for you.” Do utilize resources such as family and friends for possible job opportunities but go about it in the right way. Says Cohen, “Don’t expect a parent to ask their friend about possible job openings. Instead, approach the friend yourself (in person or in writing) and explain why you are interested in a job in that industry.”