Summer Job Interview Questions and Tips

Teenage boy working as supermarket cashier
••• kali9 / Getty Images

Interviewing for a summer job is a lot like interviewing for a full-time, year-round position in many respects. You’ll need to prepare for the job interview by researching the company, rehearsing answers to common interview questions, and bringing a list of references to give your interviewer.

But because the job itself is limited to the season, there are some key differences to this interview. For instance, you might need to emphasize your flexibility and availability, for example, to demonstrate to the interviewer that you can work with their schedule.

How to Ace a Summer Job Interview

To make the best possible impression on the hiring manager, review common summer interview questions —and bring some questions of your own to ask at the end of the interview. Plus, get more tips for how to nail your interview. 

What Interviewers Look for in Applicants

Of course, interviewers' needs will vary based on the role at hand. A summer job at a law firm requires a different set of skills than a summer job at a beachside restaurant, for example. But some of the in-demand qualities are consistent when it comes to summer jobs. 

Interviewers will be looking for candidates who are: 

  • Responsible: Since the role is short-term by nature, some employees may not take it as seriously. That can mean calling out or quitting without notice or showing up late. Missing or late employees can cause chaos for employers. Aim to show during the interview that you're responsible and will show up when you've promised to do so. 
  • Quick Learners: Employers don't want to invest a lot of time training a summer employee. They'll value candidates who already have the skills required for the job in place — or can show that they're speedy at picking up new skills. 
  • Team Players: An employee that's easy to get along with is always an asset. But in a summer role, someone who works well with others and is quick to fit in is particularly valued. That said, employers do not want to hire someone who will put friendships and chit-chat ahead of getting their work done. 

Summer Job Interview Questions

By practicing your responses to these common summer job interview questions, you'll feel prepared and confident during the actual interview. 

  • Why are you interested in this job? — Best Answers
  • When are you available to work this summer? When could you start and when do you need to return to school? — See tips for answering questions about availability.
  • What days and hours are you available each week?
  • How flexible is your schedule?
  • Do you have any activities that would prevent you from working on your schedule?
  • Do you have summer vacation plans?
  • Tell me about your academic goals and grades.
  • Why do you think you are qualified for this position? — Here's advice on how to answer interview questions about qualifications
  • Do you have any related experience? — See how to answer questions about your experience
  • What other jobs have you held? What did you like best/least about them?
  • Have you ever had difficulty working with a teacher or supervisor? — Best Answers 
  • If I asked your teachers or your guidance counselor to describe you, what would they say? 
  • If you have worked before, what did you like best about your last job? — Get ideas for how to respond to interview questions about previous jobs
  • Describe your ability to work as part of a team. — Here's advice for answering questions about teamwork
  • What volunteer experience do you have? 
  • Why should we hire you? — Best Answers
  • Explain why punctuality and reliability are important attributes for employees.
  • Do you have any references I can contact?
  • Do you have any questions for me? — Take a look at some of the best questions to ask during a job interview (plus, what not to say). 

Tips for Making the Best Impression

Once you've networked successfully or reached out directly to employers and landed an interview, leverage your skills, interest, and opportunities to convert them into a job offer for the summer. Effective preparation, delivery, and follow up will all be critical to your success.

1. Prepare

Think of successful past experiences as a student, athlete, volunteer, employee, and friend or with school activities. Identify the skills or qualities which enabled you to do well in those situations. 

Be ready to reference those strengths and give examples of how and when you tapped those assets in your responses.

2. Practice

Write a 30-word statement underscoring why you want the job and how you have the right stuff to excel in that role. Rehearse in front of the mirror, with parents, advisors, or friends who can be objective and supportive.

3. Review Your Experiences

Review all the experiences listed on your application and/or resume and be ready to answer questions about your experiences. For example, be prepared to answer questions, such as "What did you like about your previous job?" and "What were your biggest accomplishments while in that role?"

4. Dress Nicely

Business casual will usually be acceptable attire, but if you're interviewing for a professional-type job, consider wearing a dress, slacks, and a blazer or a suit. 

 Ask your parents for advice or guidance if you're unsure how to dress for your interview, or call the employer's human resources department and ask what is acceptable.

5. Meet Grooming Standards

Avoid excessive makeup, piercings, perfume/cologne, and wild hairdos. Present the image that your employer would want for their clientele. You can always adjust your grooming once you leave the interview after you've learned more about the company.

6. Greet the Interviewer

Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and warm smile. Make comfortable eye contact when articulating your statements. Lean slightly forward to engage your interviewer and don't slouch. 

Good manners make a good impression on interviewers. Plus, if you're in a customer-facing role, interviewers will be looking to see if you can handle yourself appropriately with others. 

7. Enthusiasm and a Positive Attitude

Enthusiasm and a positive attitude really count with summer job interviews. All things being equal, the eager, upbeat young candidate will be much more likely to get an offer.

Smile often, use a lively vocal tone, and focus on the positive at all times. Verbalize to the employer that you would really like the job and will work hard to do well.

8. Overcome a Skills Gap

If you don't have all the skills or experiences required for the job, it is best to admit it, but stress that you are eager to learn and that you're a quick study.

9. Express Flexibility

Express as much flexibility as honestly possible regarding hours worked and start dates. If you can start in the spring or continue in the fall while in school, that may be a distinct advantage for some employers.

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

At the end of the interview, the hiring manager will most likely ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” The correct answer to this question is always, “Yes.” If you don’t have any questions for your interviewer, you run the risk of looking like you’re not really interested in the role—or not dedicated enough to think about the details. Sample questions include:

  • What are the biggest challenges of this job?
  • What makes a person successful at this job?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?

What to Do After the Interview

Write a thank-you note as soon as possible after your interview. Express appreciation for the interviewer's time and excitement about the possibility of working there this summer. Check in periodically with the potential employer after the interview and express your continued interest.