11 Tips For Your First Job Interview

If you’ve landed your first job interview, you are probably nervous about it. I would say “don’t be!” but I know that is a lost cause.

It is normal to be nervous, but you should be prepared. What you’ll find is that when you are prepared, the things you’ve practiced will come back to you at the right time.

After the first couple of questions into the interview, you’ll be in the groove.

Here is a list of 11 tips for your first job interview that will help give you the tools you need to succeed!

1. Practice Makes Perfect

Tips for your first job interview. Practice makes perfect.

Interviews are stressful!  So, a great way for you to feel more prepared is by practicing.  It may feel weird at first, but you will thank yourself in the end.

Find someone who can be the interviewer and give them a list of questions to ask you.  Or, if that feels too uncomfortable for your first practice, start by sitting in front of the mirror.

This will also give you a chance to see what kind of facial expressions you make.  Practice smiling and having a pleasant look on your face when you aren’t speaking.

When you are getting ready to practice, check out this article that lists common interview questions you may be asked.

2. Do Your Research

Do your research. Tips for your first job interview.

The worst thing you can do in an interview is not knowing general information about the company.  Most websites have an about page that lists all kinds of facts about the company.

Pick three facts about the company that you will memorize and bring them up in different ways in the interview.  For example, if you were getting a job at a school, then comment on the year they were founded or an interesting fact about who founded the school.

Read their mission and pick out one part of it that especially speaks to you and comment on that when they ask you why you are interested in the job.

The main goal is to show that you took time to learn about the company and this will speak volumes to the interviewer.

3. Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Get Ready

Give yourself plenty of time to get ready for your first job interview.

Giving yourself time to get ready for your interview will make sure that you don’t show up flustered and rushed.

You will want to feel as calm as possible, so giving yourself time to get ready will help create the frame of mind that you want to have in your interview.

4. Arrive a Few Minutes Early

Arrive a few minutes early to your first job interview.

When you arrive for your interview, you will feel nervous.  So, to help with that, make sure you get there a few minutes early.  Take that time to relax and look over your resume.

Not being rushed with help you feel calmer as you walk into your interview.

5. Take Deep Breaths Before You Walk into Your Interview

For your first job interview, take deep breaths as you walk into your interview.

As you approach the building where you are interviewing, focus on taking deep breaths.

There is a lot of cool science behind why taking deep breaths helps you feel calm, but basically what it does is tell your brain what is happening.

If you are breathing quickly, then you can go into fight or flight mode.  But, taking deep breaths lets your brain know that everything is okay and will help you feel calm.

6. Say Only Positive Things to Yourself

Say only positive things about yourself as you walk into your first interview.

This is key!  It’s easy to say negative things to ourselves.  So, make sure you only think positive things.

Here are several things you can tell yourself as you walk into your interview:

“I’ve got this because I’ve practiced what I will say.”

“I know a lot about this company and can speak intelligently about it.”

“I’m a happy and friendly person, so I just need to smile and be engaging.”

“I’m a hard worker and this company would benefit having me work here.”

Pump yourself up!  Know what makes you feel better and repeat those things over and over to yourself.

7. Know How to Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question

Know how to answer the tell us about yourself question in your first interview.

This question is tough if you aren’t prepared to answer it.  It’s so open-ended that if you aren’t prepared, then you’ll end up talking about something that isn’t important for the interview.

Take some time and think about what you want to say when you are asked this question.  It’s a great opportunity to highlight what you have accomplished in your life so far.

You can also tailor your answer for each job you’re interviewing for.  If you are interviewing for a food service job, you can highlight that you volunteer at your school cafeteria or a soup kitchen.

Pick qualities about yourself that align as closely as possible with the qualities you think will be expected of you in the job you are interviewing for.

8. Create a Connection With the Person Interviewing You

Find a way to connect with the person who is interviewing you.

Being able to connect with the person interviewing you is very important.  People generally hire people they like and creating a good connection with them will definitely make an impact on their hiring decision.

Finding something in common is a great way to connect with the person interviewing you.  Many times as the interviewer is getting ready to start the interview they will chit chat a little.  This gives you an opportunity to ask questions and find out a little more about them.

Asking questions will give you clues to what you have in common with them.  Also, noticing things around their office.  Any sports items, pictures of kids, etc. will give you clues to what is important to them.

9. Only Say Positive Things About Past Employers

Only say positive things about past employers or experiences in your first job interview.

Since this is your first interview, you may not have any past employers.  But, as a general rule, you will not want to bring up any negative reasons for leaving a volunteer position or a side job that you worked for extra money.

Employers are looking for employees that will bring positivity to the workplace.  No employer is ever looking for a negative employee.

10. Have Examples for Every Skill You List on Your Resume

Have examples for your skills on your resume.

Stories are a great way to showcase your skills.  Before you walk into your interview, think through several stories that give you a chance to talk about a challenge and how you overcame that challenge with your skills.

Interviewers love stories, so this will be an important step in your preparation!  Have at least 3-4 stories that you plan to tell when the moment is right.

11. Don’t Forget to Follow Up!

Don't forget to follow up after your first interview.

Less than 40% of the people who interview for a job send a follow-up thank you note.  So, by taking the time to do that, you can really stand out from the crowd!

Send a short handwritten note or email to thank them for their time, say that you’re even more interested in the job after learning more about it, and you can’t wait to hear from them soon.

Please share any interview tips you have in the comment section below!!

Jobs For Teenagers: Expert Series – Dr. Janet Hurt

Dr. Janet Hurt, associate superintendent of Logan County Schools, is the next installment of our expert series.

With a wide variety of experience, she offers some helpful advice to all job seekers, and in particular teens looking for a job.

1. Briefly tell us about your role and experience in staffing and recruiting.

Over the years, the project staff (Janet Hurt, Director; Steve Moats, Manager, Elisa Brown, Manager; Dennis Horn, Manager  have hired many in their roles from principals to associaticate superintendents of school districts to non-profit agencies.

Currently we are in the process of hiring almost 50 employees to work with us to achieve the goals to Race to the Top.

2. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?

This really depends on the teens’ interests and plans for the future. I always look for ways that teens can gain from multiple experiences, while also making a little money.

Depending on where they live, often there are interest-related internships available with local companies. These look great on resumes.

However, there are ways to gain valuable skills in jobs that will involve teens in working with large groups (summer festivals, church picnics), interaction with the public and problem-solving (hardware store), communication and customer service (waitressing) and time management.

3. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?

1. Do some research. Prior to the interview, get to know the company you’re interviewing with.

It looks and feels much better to the prospective employer if the interviewee can demonstrate prior knowledge of the company, and then be able to talk about how their skills and interests “fit” with the company’s mission, vision, or core business.

Show that you will be a valued-added investment. Go to the company website and look at things like current and planned directions, and even senior staff bios.

2. Be “present” for the interview. Remember that effective communication is 70% body language and “affect” and less than 30% what you actually say. Extend a firm handshake and look the interviewer in the eye.

Lean forward and show that you are genuinely interested in learning about, as well as giving to the company. Be a good listener and reply directly to questions asked. Bright eyes and a wide (but natural) smile also go a long way.

Teens should also consult resources via trusted online sources like Monster.com for tips on interviews, resume building, networking, etc.

4. For a teen who just needs money now, what are some of the best job opportunities to make decent money with no experience for someone 17 or 18 years old.

Tough to answer because our communities are so different. Some very small communities offer little beyond the fast food industry, farm work, etc., so a breadth of opportunities is not really available.

I always look for ways that teens can gain from multiple experiences, while also making money.

Depending on where they live, in larger communicates, often there are interest-related internships available with local companies. These look great on resumes.

5. Outside of a typical online search, are there other creative ways a teen could look for part-time or seasonal work?

See response to #6

6. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?

Be willing to expand your circle of friends and acquaintances now. Networking is a skill best learned early.

Teens should find ways to connect themselves with larger groups and with individuals who have access to others who may one day be able to offer assistance.

Through these early networks, connections and friendships will form that will last a  lifetime.

Jobs For Teenagers: Expert Series – Jamie Cox

We heard from Jamie Cox, a high school guidance counselor. In that role, Jamie works with high school seniors everyday and has some great insight as to the things you should be focusing on as a teen looking for a job.

1. Briefly tell us about your role and experience in counseling and guidance.

The majority of my caseload are high school seniors, I also work with a few juniors. I provide social/emotional counseling, academic advising, and career and college counseling.
I work with students individually and in small groups. Last summer, I taught a Career Exploration class for incoming freshmen to help them start planning for their future careers.

2. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?

I think ANY job will provide valuable experience for teenagers! Employers like to see teamwork and problem solving skills, such as efficiency in dealing with an irritated customer or cooperating with co-workers to finish a job.

Any job experience that will help develop these skills, I believe, would be especially valuable.

3. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?

Do your research and be professional. Doing your research means learning about the company and job you are interviewing for, as well as practicing how you will answer common interview questions.

Being professional means being respectful, greeting people in a friendly way, dressing nicely, and leaving your cell phone off.

4. For a teen who just needs money now, what are some of the best job opportunities to make decent money with no experience for someone 17 or 18 years old.

Factory jobs, construction, cleaning, childcare, and food service are all jobs where young people can make decent money with little or no experience.

5. Outside of a typical online search, are there other creative ways a teen could look for part-time or seasonal work?

Ask your parents, friends of your parents, your friends, teachers, counselors, etc. if they know about any job opportunities. Teens can also go directly to the company, in person or on their website, to see about seasonal job opportunities.

Waterparks, park districts, school districts, theme parks, the YMCA, zoos, landscaping companies, painting companies, etc. are all great places to look for seasonal employment.

6. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?

Don’t be nervous during the job interview; the employer wants to find a great employee for the job just as much as you want to find a great job. Any job will provide valuable experience and help you learn about yourself, so don’t worry if your first few jobs aren’t your “dream jobs.”

Always be on time, do your best, and don’t be afraid to politely ask for clarification if you don’t understand what your supervisor is asking you to do.

Jobs For Teenagers: Expert Series – Luke Hohlt

In the next installment of our expert series, we talked to Luke Hohlt, a high school counselor. He had some good advice for those teenagers seeking jobs that you won’t want to miss.

1. Briefly tell us about your role and experience as a counselor.

Being a counselor has been a very rewarding job. Helping student handle growing through their adolescence is very important. I wasn’t aware of the amount of students that actually struggle with this.

Helping meet their academic, career, and personal needs has been an important part of my job for the last 6 years.

2. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?

I believe any job that requires responsibility and develops work ethic is key. We encourage students to go out an get a part time job from someone they don’t know.

Students need the experience on not having a connection in getting a job. Many times when seeking a full time job you aren’t going to know your boss or employer. Relying on getting a break for knowing someone isn’t helping them for the next level.

3. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?

Be confident in yourself. You have filled our an application and been called in for an interview. So far, the employer sees you as someone that could be valuable to their business.

Go in there with the confidence that you can do anything they ask of you.

4. For a teen who just needs money now, what are some of the best job opportunities to make decent money with no experience for someone 17 or 18 years old.

Deliver pizzas, mow yards, deliver newspapers.

5. Outside of a typical online search, are there other creative ways a teen could look for part-time or seasonal work?

Local ads, there are all kinds of odd jobs in our local Shopper.

6. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?

If you never learn how to work hard and take care of yourself, then you will never be able to take care of a spouse and family later in life.

Jobs For Teenagers: Expert Series – Cooper’s Cave Ale Company

The most recent interview in our Expert Series was with one of the leaders at Cooper’s Cave Ale Company in New York.

Here is what they had to say about teenagers looking for a job, and some advice for those who may want to start their own business some day. Enjoy!

1. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?

Any job.  Learning time management, accountability, multi-tasking, how to handle money, how to work with others etc.

2. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?

DO NOT BRING YOUR MOM, DAD, BOYFRIEND, GIRLFRIEND ETC TO YOUR INTERVIEW.  Do, bring a smile.

Learn your social security number.  It shows an employer that you are taking applying for a job, seriously.  Turn off your cell phone!

3. For a young person who may want to start a business one day, what would you advise them to do now to prepare themselves for this?

Start at the bottom.  Learn every aspect of your job and/or company.  Do not be afraid of hard work , because it will be hard work.

Perseverance pays off…..it may take a while, so don’t get discouraged.  Stay focused.

4. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?

We look for the following in our employees:  wholesome, happy, hard-working, healthy and honest.  It is your job to show up on time.

Show management what you’re made of….it’s not their job to drag it out of you.

Jobs For Teenagers: Expert Series – Betsy at Long Ago & Far Away

You’ll enjoy this interview in our expert series, as Betsy Turner at Long Ago & Far Away Native Arts in Vermont shares her vast amount of knowledge to young job seekers. Check out what she has to say.

1. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?

Teenagers can learn a lot by working in a position of service–be it as a grocery store clerk, a retail sales clerk–anything where they have to interact with the public and learn how to help people and be of service.

Learn about the phrase “the customer is always right”–humility is one of the most valuable assets someone can have when entering the work force.

2. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?

Best advice is what my parents used to say to me–if you really want the job, keep trying for it.  Do not wait for them to call you–you call them.  Not to an extreme–but as they say “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”.

As an employer, I have learned that if I actively pursue an employee without that employee aggressively trying for the job, it usually does not work out.  Let the company know that you are really interested and want the job!

3. For a young person who may want to start a business one day, what would you advise them to do now to prepare themselves for this?

Get as much work experience working for other people as you possibly can. Try different things, work hard, and learn everything you can.  Humility, again, is one of your most valuable assets.

You are a kid and you do not really know anything, much less everything!  Let your employers know that you value their knowledge and experience.

4. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?

Work hard and be responsible for yourself!  Get to work on time, communicate if for some valid reason you will not be there (ahead of time, not after you are supposed to be there!!!!).  Become indispensable as a valued employee.

I am not saying some of the most obvious things (to me) such as having your cell phone turned off during interviews and while at work–unless your employer wants you to have it on.

Do not talk about work on Facebook–I know of a high level executive who made an inside joke on FB about a meeting–which got reported by someone in on the joke– and was asked to find another position.  BIG mistake.

Expert Series – Quick Tips with Meg

We’ve got some advice for those teenagers looking for that first job, from Meg of Bethie B. an interior design company. Here is what she had to say.

1. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?

I would say the best advice would be to experiment as much as possible in high school and college in jobs that you really have an interest in or passion for… And if one doesn’t exist, figure out ways you could create one yourself and/or to start of your own business.

Don’t be afraid to fail….no failures possible there, only new opportunities.

2. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?

Be respectful. Show passion.

3. For a young person who may want to start a business one day, what would you advise them to do now to prepare themselves for this?

See #1, but also, find what really interests you and don’t be afraid to try. While building a business is far from easy, the lessons you’ll learn will be invaluable.

A great quote I recently read from Warren Buffet was “you’re able to enjoy the shade today, because someone awhile back decided to plant a tree”

4. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?

If you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing it won’t feel like work.  Find balance.

Audit yourself regularly to ask yourself if where you’re at right now is helping you get to where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years… 20 years…

Jobs For Teenagers: Expert Series – Doug of Taos Cyclery

We recently asked a few questions of Doug from Taos Cyclery in New Mexico. Here are some of his insights when you look for jobs for your teenager.

Some great points about the search process and the interview.

1. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?

Because teenagers don’t have a lot of work experience yet, they will be
asked to do the most simple and least paid jobs.  This means picking up
after a supervisor and cleaning up, “boring”.

However, the ability to do these jobs well and without complaining will mean moving up into better paying jobs quicker.  The first thing teenagers need to do is learn how to work.

That means doing something repeatedly for six to eight hours.  Easier said than done, as many adults I know can’t do this well.  Busing tables or washing dishes in a restaurant are good jobs for teenagers.

If you like being outside, then try landscaping or construction.  Don’t focus too much on a particular type of job, but on learning how to work.

2. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?

Prepare a resume.  Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience, list
accomplishments or organizations you have been a part of.

The resume is the first thing a potential employer will see as far as someone who is serious about a job.  I don’t have job applications because anyone can
fill those out, only serious applicants will show up with a resume.

Clean up, not all adults understand teenager’s sense of style.  A potential
employer may not want an employee who does not represent their business
well.

3. For a young person who may want to start a business one day, what would you advise them to do now to prepare themselves for this?

What are your goals for starting a business?  Are you so passionate about
something that you want to pursue it as a business?

Or, are you interested in making a profit?  Both are legitimate questions.  If you are passion driven, become a student of your chosen passion.  Understand that this is a life long journey and become the best at what you do.

Making a lot of money may or may not happen.  If you are profit driven, study
business and how to make a profit in changing economic times.

Be flexible and learn which businesses work in the place you want to live, or live in the place you can make the most profit, or find the best compromise.

4. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?

Work in the service industry when starting out.  Doing service work does
not mean being a servant.

There is a real art to good service and it’s being lost.  If you can learn how to please a customer you will go far.

Jobs For Teenagers: Expert Series – Jennifer Byrd

We journey on with our Expert Series, providing you valuable advice toward landing that first job and preparing for the road ahead.

We’ve asked questions of recruiters, small business owners, and other experienced professionals. In this edition, we hear from recruiting manager Jennifer Byrd. She shares some great insight!

1. Briefly tell us about your role and experience in staffing and recruiting.

I am the Recruiting Manager at York. We use a Centralized Recruiting model, meaning all of our initial interviews are conducted in Louisville over the phone.

We have offices in Louisville, Shepherdsville, Nashville and southern Indiana. By using centralized recruiting we can recruit all across the country if needed.

2. What are some of the best jobs for teenagers that help gain valuable experience for the future?

Any job experience is great. We know it isn’t as easy as it used to be to get a job before turning 18, so if you do get one, make sure you hold on to it!

It’s not necessarily the position you work in, but the responsibility that you gain.

3. What would be your top 1 or 2 pieces of advice for a teenager preparing for their first job interview?

Be prepared. Interviewing is a lot like giving a speech. If you are prepared for it, it’s not quite as bad. If you know what you are going to say and have practiced it, you will do much better.

Research the company you are interviewing with instead of walking in blindly and look up some sample interview questions before you go. Bring a copy of your resume if you have one.

Dress appropriately- don’t overdress or undress. Look at how the employees dress who are already employed and this should help you decide on what to wear. When in doubt, khakis and a nice shirt will work.

Also, bring  a notebook with a few questions you may have already written down. More than likely they will ask you if you have any questions during the interview and you may be nervous which will make it hard to think of something on “the fly” if you have them written down they will be easily accessable.

The notebook is also good for you to take notes as you go through your interview.

4. For a teen who just needs money now, what are some of the best, perhaps less obvious, job opportunities to make decent money with no experience for someone 17 or 18 years old.

Temporary and seasonal positions are good for this- especially if they are planning to go away to college in the near future. Most temporary agencies will require candidates to be 18 in order to be eligible for hire.

Also, look at ball fields and retail places that only need summer or seasonal help.

5. Outside of a typical online search, are there other creative ways a teen could look for part-time or seasonal work?

Again, staffing agencies are great for this, and I’m not just saying that b/c we are one J A lot of companies leave their recruiting/ hiring up to staffing agencies now- especially for seasonal employment.

6. Besides what we’ve asked already, what other advice would you give to a teenager entering the workforce for the first time?

The main things most employers are going to look for is punctuality, attendance, a good attitude and performance. When you start a new job, take it serious.

You have to be there when you are supposed to be, don’t call in unless it’s truly an emergency. Most employers want someone who shows they are responsible and mature.

Expert Series – 3 Great Tips with Laura Lichiello

Laura Lichiello from The Little Spot of Red in New Hampshire was kind enough to share some advice for teens looking for a job, based on her experience with a small business.

It is broken down in to 3 basic categories.

1. Best jobs for experience

I think it’s anything that has them work with multiple systems and with many people.  Retail and restaurants are great starting spots because there are a ton of details you must learn and remember all while working with the public and with many co-workers.
In the past when I’ve hired I’ve looked for retail experience because then I feel the basics have been learned and I only need to refine them.
My husband worked in a brick yard as a teen and he worked with men who had been doing bricks for a long time but he learned their craft from them, learned how to deal with each of them individually, and learned how to handle responsibility.
It’s important for young workers to remember that when they are asked/told to do something it’s for a reason: the job must be done but how you handle the doing makes all the difference.

2. Job interview

Assuming you get that far you should be well-dressed according to the type of job.  Teenagers do a lot of cold-calling for jobs and when they do they look terrible.
Whenever you are mentioning needing a job to a potential employer you should look reasonably put together.  Most of us in small business are used to jeans–but not ripped ones (I don’t care how much you paid for them) because it drops you into an unfortunate category.
Don’t come in and ask if I’m hiring wearing torn clothes or not enough of them.  For interviews: shower please, shave, dress nicely and conservatively, no perfume, no aftershave, no moving earrings (I know it sounds weird but you want to be remembered for what you say not your cute earrings wobbling to and fro) and have some sort of a resume with you.
Smile and try to relax.

3. Your own business

Work in the industry you think you want to enter.  The more knowledge you have the better prepared you are.  Listen to the experts; read books and magazines on opening a business, opening your business, and what other entrepreneurs are doing.
On your way up pay attention to what the higher ups tell you because they’ve been there.  And be prepared to work hard–harder than you will ever work for someone else.