Answering interview questions in applications for jobs for teenagers and students
Interview questions are sometimes very difficult to answer if you are unprepared. The job market for teenagers is increasingly competitive as available jobs shrink while the workforce grows larger. Jobs for teenagers are no longer that as such jobs may be taken on by retirees or those joining the employment market again after some time away.
To be on top of the pack, you will need to be prepared. From having a good resume to knowing about your prospective employer, being prepared also includes preparing your answers for some of the questions that may be asked by an interviewer.
Common job interview questions for teenagers and high school students
Interview questions can be broken down into several types. They include:
- Questions about you and what you enjoy
- Questions about your experience, including school and work experience and volunteer positions
- Questions about the reasons for wanting to work with the organization
- Questions about the future
Questions about you
Tell me about yourself
The interviewer already knows your name, where you live and which school you are in, so you do not need to repeat any of those in your answer. Do not give detailed personal information because the interviewer is not looking for your biography.
The interviewer is assessing your ability to provide relevant answers, to see how well you are able to respond to the question about how suited you are for the job.
Your answer should be given in the following manner:
- brief statement of your experience which is relevant to the position you are being interviewed for
- brief statement of the characteristics and traits that will allow you to be an asset in the organization
- brief statement about your best accomplishments so far.
What motivates you?
Your answer should be focused on the motivation you have to make sure that you perform the job to the best of your ability. For example, if you are being interviewed as an intern, your answer should include the fact that you are driven to acquire new knowledge and to be part of a team that displays team spirit and team responsibility.
You should not be including in your answer any reference to liking the hours offered or working in a fun environment. This may be the case but you can only enjoy these perks after you get the job!
What are you passionate about?
This is an easy question for you to get right because the question provides you with an opportunity to show the interviewer that you can be dedicated and are prepared to work hard for a cause or in a hobby.
In turn, you should show the interviewer that you are prepared to be equally as dedicated to the job and how your work ethics will reflect the effort you have put in so far with the hobby.
Questions about your experience
Tell me about your past experiences
A question that you may find being asked in job interviews as a teenager or high school student is a question about your past experiences that may relate to the job. Here, the interviewer is trying to get an idea of your skills and attitude towards work.
Your answer should be focused on showing the interviewer that you are prepared to work hard and that you have the necessary skills for the position. For example, you can tell the interviewer that your volunteering experience in a charity-owned thrift shop has prepared you to interact and deal with different types of individuals, and this has allowed you to develop customer service skills.
What were the problems or challenges you faced?
Here, the interviewer is looking to assess your problem solving abilities in a work environment. You can prepare your answer by picking on one or two problems you have faced in the past and analysing what you did in your attempt to solve the issue.
You should include in the answer the lessons you have learnt from each problem or challenge you have faced and how they apply to the job you are interviewing for.
Illegal interview questions
There are some interview questions which cannot be asked by the interviewer because of anti-discrimination laws. These include:
- what your nationality is
- who your parents are
- where you live
- where you were born
- whether you live alone or with your parents or with anyone else
- what clubs, organizations or groups you belong to
- what your religion is
- your arrest record (legally, the interviewer can ask whether you have been convicted of a crime that may relate to the job you are applying for e.g. have you been convicted of theft if you are applying to work as a store cashier)
- whether you have been expelled or suspended from school
If you find yourself being asked any of these questions, the best way to answer is to ask the interviewer politely how the question relates to your ability to do the job.