Many companies love to hire teens, especially for seasonal and part time jobs. To the most popular positions for teenagers belong: Waitresses, baristas, construction workers, customer assistants, call center operators, nannies, cashiers, fruit pickers, and other, mostly manual jobs. In my experience, there are two ways in which companies and recruitment agencies hire teens:
- They make no difference, and you will have to pass the same interview as anyone else, ten or twenty years your senior. In this case you should navigate to Interview Questions for Different Job Titles, pick your position from the list, and start reading.
- The interview is heavily simplified. You will face only several simple questions (we will look at them in this article), and they will quickly progress to orientation or a test day, so you can start working as soon as possible, and they can see you in action (which is, after all, the best test of your skills).
Non-verbal communication–make it or break it
Virtually all jobs for teens are entry level. They do not expect you to know stuff, they plan to show you how to take care of your job. What they expect however, is your willingness to learn, enthusiasm for the job, motivation to work hard, and your interest for their business and success.
What you say is important, but how you say it is crucial. Speak with enthusiasm, ask questions, bring some positive energy to the room. These things are essential for your success, and you should not underestimate them. Set your mind the right way if you want to succeed and get your first job. Let’s have a look at the questions they may ask you, just because you are a teenager.
Tell me something about yourself
Your resume is pretty basic, or you perhaps do not even have one yet. They want to know who you are as a person, and they will ask.
You can start with the school which you attend, and things you do in your leisure time, especially if these things relate to the job you want to have. For example, if you apply for a job at Gamestop, your hobby in playing video games will be considered as something positive (which isn’t the case most of the time:)).
Do you do any sports? They definitely help with stamina and strength, which you may need working in the fields, or on the construction site. You will nearly always find some connection with your hobbies. Just think about it for a while a prepare a good answer.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
You won’t get this question in professional interviews, but you may get it applying as a teen, for an entry level job. The key is to pick strengths that are (at least somehow) relevant for the job you want to get.
Following the same logic, you should pick weaknesses that won’t hinder you in your new job. Check our article dedicated to Weakness interview question, to see good answers for a variety of jobs.
How do you feel about working eight/twelve hours a day? Do you have any working experience?
The employers try to understand whether you have the basic working habits, and are not scared of working for more than an hour or two.
* Note: There are some laws and regulations, but these differ from one country to another. As a teen, you may sometimes be allowed to work only three or four hours a day, while in other countries you can work as long as you want. Check this out before your interview.
You should mention anything that demonstrates your readiness for employment. Even if you worked only with your uncle on a construction of his house, for eight hours each Saturday, it is good to mention it. You can also stress that you read the job description carefully, know what is expected from you, and would not apply if you were not ready for the workload.
Special Tip: Download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
How do you imagine a typical day in work?
The key is to show them that you do not expect an easy ride, that you want to work hard. I observe many teen employees–waitresses and shop assistants, who spend most of their days texting on What’s up or FaceBook, instead of actively attending the customers. Unless I ask them for something, they won’t move their eyes from the screen of their smart phone, and their butt from the chair.
Such people are a waste of money, and they will soon be fired (unless the employer have no other option, since nobody else applies for the job, and they have to keep them onboard).
Anyway, you should show a completely different attitude to work. Do you apply for a job in a fashion store? Say that you imagine walking in the hall, asking customers whether they need help, giving them advice, and so on.
Applying for a job of a nanny? Say that you imagine playing with the child, giving him or her all your attention, creating a meaningful program for the child from morning to evening. I hope you got the point, and will be able to come up with a great answer to this question…
How long do you want to have this job?
The biggest problems with teens’ employment is the high fluctuation rate. Since most teens do not have to pay bills (lucky you), and still live with their parents, their commitment isn’t particularly strong.
They will often leave after a first argument with the boss, or even without any apparent reason. Obviously this is bad for the employer, and you should try to convince your interviewer that you are an exception to the rule.
The best way of doing it is explaining clearly the role your new job will play in your life. For example if you study at high school (most likely you do), you can say that you are already trying to save some money for the University, and want to have this job as long as you are at a high school.
Or you can point to a particular goal you have, such as buying a new car or paying eye surgery for your grandma, and say that you plan to have the job for a long time, to be able to achieve your goal…
What is your availability? Which days and hours can you work?
Try to show some flexibility. They should not feel that your new job will be your last priority–after school, sport club, gaming club, boyfriend/girlfriend and everything else you devote your time to.
Obviously school should stay above everything else, but you can say that unless sitting in your classroom or preparing for the next day at school, you consider your new job your first priority, and are ready to sacrifice some of your free time activities, to be available for your employer. You can also list particular days and hours when you are available…
Some other interview questions for teens
- What motivates you the most in work?
- How would your best friend describe you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Do you have any role model in life?
- What do you know about our company?
- Tell me about a goal you achieved recently and how you did it.
- Why should we hire you, and not someone else?
* If you are not sure how to answer these questions, check our article about the most common interview questions and answers.
Summary and next steps
Interviews for teens are usually much easier than typical job interviews. You won’t face any behavioral questions or tests, and the expectations won’t be high.
The most important thing is to show willingness to learn, motivation, enthusiasm, and understanding for the job and your role in the company. Once they see these things in you, and once you answer their questions (and won’t just dumbly sit and say nothing), they will hire you.
I hope this article helped you, and wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- How to dress for your interview – Four rules to consider when choosing clothes to wear.
- What job is right for me? Starting your professional career? Deciding about your studies? Or feeling unhappy in your present occupation? The article should help you to find your true calling in life.
- Get a job with no experience – If you have no previous working experience, you can still land a decent job. You just have to know how to turn your disadvantage (lack of experience) to an advantage in an interview.