Helping Your Teen Through His First Job Interview

My older son turned 16 this year, so the prospect of a summer job is something that we jammed onto his radar screen early, with what I’ll admit was only limited success. I say limited success because he was okay with the idea of having a summer job, but there was no indication that he was going to go out and look for one.

That may be an indication of a shortcoming in our parenting, or it may be symptomatic of teens these days. In either case, I was willing to help, and had been asking friends for ideas of late, which brought me to a conversation I had with one friend over the weekend.

I asked this friend whether a local country club where he worked part time had hired the summer pool staff yet. He said that he would text the manager and check, which he did while we chatted. The manager (who it turns out is someone I know) said that they were in fact holding interviews this week, and my son could come in after school Tuesday – so far so good.

Let me state clearly here that even though I have been on both sides of the interview table dozens of times, I’m not an interview expert. I’m writing this as a dad trying to do the right thing for my kid, and perhaps some other parents can learn something from my experience. Here are the highlights of what we got right, and what we could have done better:

1. What to wear – I’m a proponent of never underdressing for an interview. My son is a shorts and t-shirt kid, so getting him into khakis and a button down shirt seemed appropriate.
2. Be on time – In fact, arrive a little bit early, but not too early.
3. Social media! – This is a topic near and dear to our hearts at ThirdParent, so you won’t be surprised to hear that we had made sure beforehand that if the manager searched for him online, there would not be anything in his social media or online profile that would make him look sloppy or like a bad kid.
4. Don’t hover – You don’t want to be the parent in the interview. My son doesn’t have a license yet so I drove him to the interview, and said hello to the manager (but only because I know him). I then left them on their own. If I were to do it again, I would have dropped him off at the front gate of the club and make him find his way on his own.
5. Bring a pen – I had reminded him to bring a pen, and when the receptionist asked him if he had one to fill out the application, he said yes. She said, “Good for you. You wouldn’t believe how many kids come in here without one!”
6. Your SSN – If you’re going to fill out an application, you’ll need your social security number. Be prepared. He didn’t have it, but I was able to find it on my phone.
7. Cell Phone – Turn the ringer off and keep the phone in your pocket, even if you’re in a reception area waiting for the interview. Don’t risk giving the impression that there is something that you’re more interested in at that moment. If there is, you’re doing it wrong.
8. First impression – Shoulders straight, make good eye contact, smile, firm handshake. Be positive. Nobody wants to hire a sad sack. This is all true whether your teen is a boy or a girl.
9. Get contact information – If at all possible, get a phone number and email address for the manager. Unless you get declined outright for the job, you’ll need it.
10. Thank you note – I’m guessing that most teens do not send thank you notes after interviews. They should, and my son did.

interview-teen-thank-you

If the fact that the manager got right back to him was any indication, the follow up email worked.

11. Be available – My teen is not in the habit of answering his phone, unless he is waiting for a ride from his mom or me. It’s no secret that teens don’t talk on the phone, they text. I told him that since the manager has his phone number, he should be expecting a call and to make himself available. Mangers don’t text job offers.

12. Don’t stop at one – Now that he has one interview under his belt, I want him to go out and find another one – on his own this time.

My son tells me that the interview went well and he is optimistic about it working out. I hope he gets it, but I’m confident that the process was a good learning experience for him.

Did I leave anything out? Please leave a comment if you have any ideas.

 

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