Work experience offers teens valuable benefits. If you get a job as a teen, you'll learn to take responsibility, act professionally, and develop your ability to resolve everyday conflicts and problems. Plus, you'll gain valuable experience for your resume and college applications. But, since teens typically haven't held many (or any!) previous positions, answering interview questions requires some strategy.
Here are sample answers for questions about success. Plus, review tips for how you can prepare for interviews.
How to Answer Questions About Success
One common open-ended interview question that teens may hear is, "What do you think it takes to be successful in this position?"
Interviewers want to see if you understand what the job entails. If you've read the job description and researched the company, you should have a good sense of the job's responsibilities. You can summarize them in your response. Then, try to show that you have the necessarily qualities and can handle the day-to-day needs of the position.
If you have relevant prior experience (at school, previous jobs, internships, or through volunteer work or clubs), now is the time to mention it! Even if you don't have direct experience, you can mention personality traits that make you a good fit.
Examples of the Best Answers
Here are some sample answers to this interview question that you can use as a springboard to craft your own:
I think that in order to succeed in this position – as in most jobs – I’ll have to be hardworking, responsible, trustworthy, and a good team member. I’ve demonstrated these skills as our high school band’s drum major, and am excited about the possibility of putting them to good use for you.
Why It Works: This response is effective because the candidate talks about how she has developed some key soft skills (also known as “people skills”) that will help to make her a productive employee.
I feel it is important to believe what I am doing is meaningful and that I can make a difference. Keeping these two things in mind only motivates me to work harder.
Why It Works: Here, the interviewee demonstrates that he is motivated by more than the need to make money. His altruistic answer suggests that he will take his responsibilities seriously.
This cashier position requires someone who is detail-oriented — after all, it deals with money and taking orders, and it's important that everything be correct. Having a good attitude is also important for this job. In my last job, I was a greeter at a store, so I have a lot of experience with making sure people get a good first and last impression.
Why It Works: This response demonstrates that the job candidate has taken the time to think about what will be required of her as a cashier. She also does a good job of suggesting how the customer service skills she developed in a previous retail job will translate well to this new role.
When working with children, it is important to always make them feel like they are special. To be successful in this position, I will be energetic, creative, and understanding of the various needs of the all the children.
Why It Works: This teen speaks with confidence and knowledge – it’s clear from his statement and his tone that he’s worked with children before and understands their emotional and psychological needs.
Tips for Teens on Successful Interviewing
Determine three key ideas you want to communicate before the interview. What do you want to highlight in your interview? You might want to emphasize your academic success, previous jobs or internships, or your strong abilities. Keep those in your back pocket and sprinkle those points into your answers. For example, if the job is in retail and requires talking to customers, you might highlight your communication skills on the debate team. If it's working with children, talk about your previous experience babysitting.
Find your fit. Think through the ways in which you're a good match for this job. Don't just talk about your strengths in general; tie them to the position to illustrate how your skills are applicable. Consider what the job requires. Then, think how your academic and extracurricular experiences show you'd be a successful match. Use examples, scenarios, and stories to help paint a picture.
Read up on the company. Research the company before your interview. You don't have to memorize lots of facts, but you should have a general idea of what the company does, how they do business, and details about the job you're applying for. If the job is in retail, go visit the store and shop around. If it's at a restaurant, have a meal there to get a sense of how things run and what the menu looks like.
You can also sprinkle your homework into your discussion. For example, "When I was visiting your store, I observed XYZ,” or “I saw on your website that you plan to..."
Come armed with questions. Employers may consider your questions just as important as your answers as they demonstrate your curiosity in the company and real interest in the job. Here are some general questions to ask:
- What is the most important thing I need to know about this job?
- What kinds of opportunities exist for me to learn new skills?
- What is involved in the training?
- How can I prepare before the job begins?
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- Why are you looking for a job? - Best Answers
- Why should we hire you? - Best Answers
- Why do you want to work here?
KNOW WHAT YOU OFFER: Think about the skills you’ve developed as a student, a club member, a volunteer, or in other paid or unpaid jobs that would make you a great employee. These might include traits like being a strong team player, leadership, self-motivation, or trustworthiness. Then, practice describing how you acquired these skills and how they qualify you as a promising candidate for the job.
BE CONFIDENT: Even if you lack actual work experience, you still possess many of the important skills that will be required of you as an employee. Practice your answers ahead of time so that, during your actual interview, you can look the interviewer in the eye and speak with confidence and enthusiasm.
FOCUS ON PAST SUCCESSES: In your answer, describe one or two former academic or personal achievements to illustrate how you have successfully faced and responded to challenges. The goal here is to show that you possess the maturity, self-motivation, determination, and work ethic to excel within the job.