Tips for a Successful First Job Interview

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

Are you a teenager who’s just started your first job search? Are you about to go on an interview for the first time? Even though you may feel really nervous, the key to a successful experience is to prepare for the interview, practice interviewing ahead of time, dress appropriately, and try to stay calm. 

Don't worry about being nervous or stressed. Remember, your interviewer is most likely used 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. 

Here are tips to help make the 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 job you’re applying for, then ask yourself, "Why am I the best person for this job?" 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.

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've made a good 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.