Tips for a Successful First Job Interview

Teen going to a job interview
••• Copyright Jeff Cadge / Getty Images

Are you a teen who just started your first job search? If you're about to go a job interview for the first time, you may be feeling a bit nervous. Don't let the stress get to you. Remember, your interviewer is likely accustomed to interviewing first-time job seekers. Plus, everyone has a first interview in their work history. With your first interview under your belt, it will get much easier. 

The key to having a successful interview—whether it's your first or your fiftieth—is to prepare ahead of time, dress appropriately, and try to stay calm.

Practicing answering interview questions beforehand is also hugely helpful.  

Here are tips to help make that first interview a success.

Before Your First Job Interview

Research the company. Take some time to research the company, so you are familiar with how they operate. There is a lot of company information available online. You might be asked what you know about the organization, so check out the "About Us" and "Careers" section of the company website if you're interviewing with a large employer. For smaller employers, review their website to get an idea of what the company is about. Also, check social media pages to ascertain the company's current focus.

Learn about the job. Find out as much as you can about the position you’re applying for, then ask yourself, "Why am I the best person for this role?" Do you know someone who works at the company? Ask them about the job, the interview process, and the company. The more you know about the job, the easier it will be to answer questions about why you'd be a good fit for it.

Practice interviewing. Review typical teen interview questions and answers, then ask a family member or friend to ask you some questions so you can practice your answers. You may also want to review the ten most common interview questions

These tips will help you practice interviewing, so you'll be more comfortable with the process.

Dress appropriately. Choose simple and appropriate attire for the position you are interviewing for. If you're not sure what to wear, ask an adult family member, teacher, or guidance counselor. Take a look at what you shouldn't wear to a first job interview, as well.

The "grandma" rule is always a good one to go by. If your grandma would approve of the outfit, you have made the right choice.

Write a resume. A resume will make a good impression on the interviewer. You don't need formal work experience to write a resume. You can include informal experience, volunteering, academic achievements, and your participation in sports or clubs. Bring a copy of your resume, if you have one, to the interview, as well as a pen and paper so you can take notes. Here's how to write your first resume.

Get directions and a ride. If you need a ride to the interview, line it up ahead of time. Make sure you know where you are going for the interview so that you do not get lost and are either on time or—even better—a few minutes early. 

During Your First Job Interview

  • If you're under 18 and your state requires teens to have working papers, bring these with you.
  • Try to stay cool and collected. Staying as calm as possible will help you focus on the interviewer.
  • If you feel flustered, pause and take a few deep breaths to gather your thoughts.
  • Be confident in your skills and abilities when you are talking to the interviewer. Remember this is a first job and you aren't expected to have a lot of experience.
  • Try to incorporate what you know about the company into the discussion.
  • Be honest. If you have sports or other activities that might conflict with your work schedule, tell the interviewer.
  • Be flexible. You may have some leeway in setting a work schedule, but the more flexibility you have, the more likely it is that you'll be hired.
  • Make eye contact and avoid distractions.
  • Listen and take notes. Have a question ready to ask at the end of the interview.
  • At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for taking the time to interview you.

After Your First Job Interview

Send a thank you note immediately after the interview to each person that interviewed you to remind them about how interested you are in the position.

Key Takeaways for a Successful First Job Interview

PREPARE IN ADVANCE: That means practicing how you'll answer common interview questions, and spending some time learning about the company and role. 

DON'T LET NERVES TAKE OVER: It's OK to feel a bit nervous before an interview. Just don't let those feelings get in the way of your listening to the interviewer's questions, and responding to the best of your ability. 

THANK THE INTERVIEWER: You'll want to verbally thank the interviewer at the end of the conversation, and also follow up with a written thank you note afterward.