How To Prepare Your Son Or Daughter For Their First Job Interview
By Guest Contributor Dakota Murphey
Whether your child (and I use the term loosely) is applying for a first holiday job while at college, or their first proper career job, seeing them actually take an interest in paying their way in the world is one of those ‘rites of passage’ things that goes with becoming an adult.
As a parent, you will obviously want them to succeed, so what can you do to help? Here, regular contributor D. Murphey discusses her own experience, along with research findings from various news sources as part of a research project using staff management specialist Planday.com/uk as a case study.
Writing A CV
Chances are that your son or daughter won’t have written a CV before; in fact, they may have no clue whatsoever what it even is, or what they should put on it. This is where you come in.
Explain to your child that a curriculum vitae is a personal resumé containing all the important information that a future employer will want to see. Point them towards helpful resources and CV templates and ask them to have a first stab at writing it all down in list form.
Then go through the draft CV together, amending and polishing as necessary. Assuming no prior work experience exists, think of things they’ve done in or outside college/uni that can demonstrate their skills and employability in addition to their academic achievements. Have they been a sports team leader, member of the debating club, helping the elderly with computer skills, or an avid film goer? What about charity or volunteering work? Perhaps they’re good with dogs, enjoy gardening or are great with graphic design? It all helps to tell their story.
The important thing is to come across as a ‘good’ candidate – someone who is sensible and reliable, has an interest in the world around them and the potential to develop. CVs, particularly first ones, should be short and concise – there’s really no need to go over a single page of A4. And, of course, they must be honest. Embellishments and untruths have a nasty habit of being found out. Don’t risk it.
Choosing An Interview Outfit
Depending on your darling youngster’s preferred sense of fashion, this can be a tricky one. Do you play it safe and buy him/her a suit or similar smart office wear – probably as far removed as it is possible to be from regular teenager fashion? Or will they be OK in casual wear, assuming no-one other than lawyers and accountants really wears suits anymore?
To an extent, it depends on the job they’re applying for. A Stockroom Assistant in a Garden Centre can probably get away with less formal interview attire than an Office Junior. Common sense applies: appearances need to be neat and professional. Miniskirts and low cut tops are never a good idea for girls, just as scruffy t-shirts, jogging bottoms and trainers are a complete no-no for guys.
Generally speaking, it’s always better to overdress than underdress – it shows that the candidate is taking the job interview seriously and has made an effort to impress.
Arriving In Good Time
Many inexperienced interview candidates fall at the first hurdle – by being late for their appointment. Teach your child that this is a cardinal mistake that’s almost impossible to come back from. A wise person once said ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’ and nowhere is this truer than in an interview situation. Looking presentable and arriving on time are non-negotiables.
The trouble is that the traffic, the weather, the alarm not going off, the train being late etc can all throw a spanner into the best laid plans – and that’s on top of many teenagers’ personal organisation not being up to scratch in the first place. As a parent, you can help plan their journey, or even drive them there, with plenty of time built in for unforeseen delays. Better to spend an hour at a nearby café going over the CV and mentally preparing for the meeting ahead, than to rush in at the last minute all hot and flustered.
Displaying A Positive Attitude
For a young person with no previous work experience, the first job interview can be a scary prospect. Ironically, confidence is key. If he or she comes across as a conscientious person with a positive mental attitude, the battle is half won.
Confidence needs to be backed up by previous achievements (however they may be defined) but held in check by lack of work experience. No-one likes a cocky know-it-all who has never had a job in his life. A willingness to learn always goes down well, as does a polite manner and a firm handshake. Questions about salary and holiday entitlements, on the other hand, are best left until they are mentioned by the interviewer.
Practising Interview Techniques
It’s entirely natural for any job candidate to be nervous, particularly if it’s an important job your child is going for. Nerves are good – it’ll keep him/her focused on the task in hand – but they shouldn’t get in the way of their personal presentation. Umming and ahhing their way through an interview can be avoided with simple preparation and practice.
Take half an hour each day in the run-up to the big day and practise with your son or daughter. Rehearse the arrival, handshake and introduction and the body language. Have ready prepared answers to these commonly asked interview questions:
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Why do you want this position?
What do you know about the company?
Why should we hire you?
What do you think makes you the best candidate for the job?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What is the accomplishment you fell proudest about in your life?
How do you handle pressure?
Dakota Murphey; BA (Hons) Marketing graduate, freelance writer and Photoshop dab hand. When she's not running around after her two kids, you’ll find her relaxing in a nearby coffee shop, watching the world pass her by. If you enjoyed this article, see what else she's been up to on Twitter - @Dakota_Murphey.
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