Preparing your kids for that first job interview

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Preparing your kids for that first job interview

People interviewing.  - Preparing your kids for that first job interview
Preparing your kids for that first job interview
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

I have two older sons that are both old enough to be working. One of the things as a dad that might not cross your mind is how to prepare your kid for a job interview. In some cases maybe your kids don’t need to work or don’t want to work.  But my kids all seemed to want to have a job so they could have money and eventually support themselves.

This got my wheels turning on the interview process. It has been a while since I interviewed for a job, but I have interviewed several candidates for positions with my company so I have noticed a few things. Here is my advice for my kids when they go to a job interview. 

How to Dress

Dress shoes - Preparing your kids for that first job interview
Preparing your kids for that first job interview
Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

First impressions in interviews are everything. My boys would wear shorts or sweatpants and crocs year round if I let them.  And honestly I am not big on dressing up as I think it is your character that counts more than the way you dress or what you wear. But in an interview presenting yourself in a marketable way is the best course of action.

My biggest advice here is to go one higher notch for the the job you are applying for. If it is an entry level job for fast food or working at a grocery store. Maybe some nice dress pants, nice dress shoes, and a button up shirt with a color or polo shirt. A tie would be optional but not out of the question. I would avoid a full three piece suit but it is not out of the question.

If the job is more professional in nature or a management position then I would recommend the full suit. Dress pants, dress shirt with tie, dress jacket, and your best dress shoes. And make sure it is wrinkle free. 

Be on Time

Never be late for a job interview. Never. The job interview is probably the first impression they will have of your work ethic. And if you are late then you have already lost confidence in the interviewer’s eyes.  My advice here is to plan accordingly for anything that might make you late. Traffic or car issues can cause you to be late. Not having the right address if you have never been to this location before, make sure you know exactly where you are going.

Arrive early but not too early. If you get to the location too early and you know exactly where you are going in the building just sit in your car until 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time. I have personally interviewed people who showed up 30 minutes early. While I appreciated their enthusiasm it was very awkward having them sit in the lobby for 30 minutes until we could get to them.

Look Them in the Eyes

This one is hard for kids these days. They are so used to looking down at their devices they don’t want to look up. Or they may just be nervous and trying to look at anything to keep them distracted. Looking a person in the eyes tells them you are paying attention and you are interested in what they have to say.

Respond with Yes or No

I fall in this trap myself. I respond to questions with yeah or sure or nah. There isn’t anything really wrong with those responses. But it bothers some people. They want to hear yes when they expect a yes. They may not want to here “I guess so” or “sure”. Those phrases don’t instill confidence in an interviewer.  And in some cases it might good to respond with yes sir or yes ma’am. 

Research the Job

Do a quick Google search on the job. Or your kid can even ask some friends that may work there what does the job entail.  Most starter jobs in food service or grocery stores are pretty easy to figure out. But if the job description seems limited it would be wise to know a little more about the job before the interview. 

Another reason to research is if this is a company you have never heard of or dealt with. They need to go in knowing is this company going to be around or is this just a fly by night thing that will only last a few weeks.

Ask Questions

Ask questions about the job. Even if the job seems straight forward this shows the interviewer that you are interested and excited about the job. And if the job is something your child has never done then they may want to know what exactly they are getting into.

Take Notes (when appropriate)

Notebook - Preparing your kids for that first job interview
Preparing your kids for that first job interview
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

I always tell my kids when interviewing to take a notebook and a pen. That way if they need to take notes they can. Sometimes an interviewer may give you some hints about what the expectations are, or next steps in the interview. Kids are not the best at remembering these details. Also it doesn’t hurt to write down the names of the people they met in case they need to call back.

Turn Off Their Phones

With my kids this is a big one. They always want to be on their phones and know what is going on. But nothing is more off putting than a kid getting a text message or a phone call mid interview. Then they are scrambling to mute it or may even be tempted to answer the text. Yes you can silence most phones but to avoid distractions just turn it off before going in for the interview.

Have a Few Copies of Their Resume in Hand

If during the job application process they submitted a resume it is always good practice to keep extra copies on hand. In most cases your kid will not even have a resume. But if their first job interview is during college they need one with some relative experience from school and community work. People that do the interviewing don’t always get a copy of the resume. By having one on hand your child can quickly provide it and show that they are always prepared.

Be Well Groomed

If your kid needs a haircut it would probably be best to do this before the interview. Most jobs won’t really notice it. But sometimes my boys will let their hair get a little out of control before taking care of it.  Make sure they don’t go to the interview looking like a lumberjack who has been out in the woods for a few weeks.

Show Enthusiasm for the Job

Make sure they show genuine excitement for the job during the interview. Even if the job may not be top of their list. Sometimes kids just need a starter job to get some experience and the job they are interviewing for may not be the most exciting job in the world. But they can at least go in and act like it is the best job for them.

Have Them List Their Strengths/Weaknesses

Before they go to the interview have them make a list of their strengths and weaknesses. You may have to point them in the right direction because a lot of people struggle with this. I know I struggle answering this question for myself.  And remind them that they need to turn that weakness into a positive somehow. Something that they can improve upon because maybe they just lack experience.

Set Expectations on When They Can Work

One of the first things they might get asked or will have to fill out an application are what hours they are available to work. Make sure you sit down with your child and give them an appropriate schedule. Do you want them working too late at night? Do you want them to not work on Sundays because of church commitments? Do they remember that they have basketball practice until 5 everyday?  Make sure they go in knowing when they can and cannot work.

Do a Mock Interview With Your Child

To help them prepare do a mock interview. You can go online and find all kind of sample interview questions that you can ask them and give critique on their answers. This will also get their mind thinking about how they want to answer their questions and see if they are truly prepared.

Make Sure They Have All the Needed Info

Typically when doing an interview your child may have to fill out paperwork or an application. This can include things like Social Security Numbers or phone numbers and addresses of references. My kids do not have their Social Security Number memorized. If your kids are the same then have a paper they keep in their wallet/purse or in their notebook so they have that information readily available and don’t have to call you while they are there.

Going for an interview for the first time can be a scary experience. Even as an adult I would get the jitters when going on interviews. I knew I was well prepared but sometimes that wasn’t enough. As a parent you should make sure your kid has everything they need to help lessen that anxiety and make the interview process a memorable one. Just remember to be supportive if they don’t get the job right away. And help them to think about takeaways that would help them for any future interviews.

Have any more interview tips to add to this list? If so drop a comment or let us know on our Facebook page.


  1. This is some great information that is a must in making sure we set up our children for success. Knowing how to interview is very important as it translates to other confidence builders.

    I wish my parents would have taught me anything about it when I got started.

    I truly do believe it will lead to success if we teach our kids to interview.

  2. Great tips. I have never read children and interview in the same sentence. But yiu are right, parents should prepare their children with the tools to help ease anxiety associated with interviews

    • It is still hard for me to grasp as my kids get older. But as they grow you start to think about these things that we need to do to prepare our kids for life without dad (or mom)

  3. This is a fantastic list, Greg! You’re right on all things, but I have to say the key advice for me is showing enthusiasm! This helped me so much during my interviews, especially when I was starting up. I guess people thought that, what you lack in knowledge, you offer in enthusiasm, and that’s very important in a job!

    • Yes. Showing that you are interested in a job is a key indicator to the interviewer that you may be the right fit.

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