If you are a teenager applying for jobs, you will probably get questions about how your school experiences have prepared you for a job. For example, you might get the question, “How has your schooling prepared you for this job?” or “What experience at school has best prepared you for this job?”
Employers will understand that you are a teenager with little work experience. However, they will want to know that you have the qualities and abilities to be a responsible employee. They want to know about your ability to work hard and do well. One way to demonstrate this is to show the skills you’ve developed in school.
Interviewing can be stressful, especially if you are looking for your first job. The best way to prepare is to practice answering common interview questions.
Tips for Answering Interview Questions About School and Work
Reread the Job Listing
Before your interview, look back at the job listing, and circle the skills and abilities that seem most important for the job. If there is no job listing, make a list of skills that you think will be important for the job (if you know someone who works at the company, ask them). This will help you consider what skills and experiences you will need to highlight in your interview.
Think About Particular Experiences
For each skill you circle, think of an experience you have had that helped you develop that skill. In particular, think of experiences from school. For example, if the job requires strong written communication skills, you could mention the A you got in your English class or the research project you just finished. If the job requires teamwork, mention a group project you worked on, and how you demonstrated teamwork during that project. If you think of these experiences ahead of time, they will be easier to remember during the interview.
Go Beyond the Classroom
You don’t need to focus on classroom experiences. Think of the skills and abilities you have developed through volunteer and extracurricular activities, such as clubs, music, and sports. Are you a team captain? This is an example of your leadership experience. Do you write for your school newspaper? This can show your communication skills.
Connect Back to the Job
When answering a question about how your school experience has prepared you for a job, be sure to explain how the skill or experience you mention has prepared you for the specific job. For example, if you say you have strong computer skills and give an example of this, conclude your answer by explaining how computer skills will be useful on the job. You might say, “These computer skills will be useful in this marketing internship since you stated in the job listing that you want someone with some graphic design and coding experience.” Make sure the interviewer sees how your experiences connect to the job, and how they make you a good candidate.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice answering questions about your education and how your academics prepared you for the job. Say your answer out loud, either to yourself or to a friend or family member who is willing to give you a practice interview. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel – and appear – in the interview.
Examples of the Best Answers
Below are sample answers to questions about how the school has prepared you for a job. Read through these samples to get a sense of how you might answer these questions.
Keep in mind that you need to take the time to personalize your responses so they reflect you, as a person and as a candidate for employment. Relax, smile, and answer the questions to the best of your ability.
- At school, I have to meet daily deadlines, set goals for myself in a variety of subjects and activities, and accomplish them. For example, I just completed a research paper for my English class that I worked on for four months. I set small deadlines over those four months so that I completed the final project ahead of schedule. This ability to set and follow deadlines will be useful at work, where I will have to manage my time.
- I know this job requires a lot of teamwork and communication with my fellow employees. At school, I work with my peers and teachers every day. In fact, I just completed a physics project that required me to collaborate with five of my classmates. We worked together on the project every week for a month, presented our findings to the class, and received an A. I, therefore, know how to work in teams and with a manager.
- I have taken a number of computer skills classes in school. I learned many different ways to utilize the technology the computer has to offer. I am proficient in Microsoft Office software, particularly Excel. I am comfortable with doing in-depth research using the Internet, and I have become familiar with many different types of graphic design software. For example, I am currently working as a graphic designer for our school newspaper, and am using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. All these computer skills have prepared me to work for your online marketing company.