Parents can help young people prepare for interviews by helping them think of possible questions well before an important interview. Even knowing that they have thought about possible questions gives students greater confidence.
If your teenager has had a negative experience at an interview, always offer encouragement as well as empathizing. Give the message that it’s okay not to get the first job or the first leadership position we apply for. Stress that each interview is a learning experience. Which question was unexpected? What would have been a better answer? Which question was difficult to answer?
Young people will face interviews and need to have a positive attitude to them if they are to perform well in these situations. Armed with the right knowledge and having time to think things through is a great start to gaining greater confidence when facing interviews. To help young people prepare for interviews and approach them positively, here are a few points to discuss with them…
Why are interviews a good thing?
We can actively prepare for them. They are wonderful opportunities for students to demonstrate that they should be selected, that they have the interest and the enthusiasm to do well in the course or job. In essence, students have the opportunity to be more than a score. Young people need to be reminded that an interview is a great chance to demonstrate interest, ability and personal qualities.
Why are interviewers interested in looking beyond ATAR scores?
They are recognizing that high ATAR scores are not necessarily the best indication of future success. The most successful people down the track are not always those with the highest exam scores. Really successful people are often those who possess high levels of emotional intelligence and other key personal attributes. These people can work independently and in teams, communicate well, show empathy, lead effectively and inspire others. Interviewers will be looking out for evidence of all of this in answers given at interviews. Young people should be happy about all of this. They can work to develop important life skills and qualities. They have control over this. This is a good feeling. They can plan what they need to do to build up specific skills.
How can parents help young people be less nervous about interviews?
Young people will be more positive about interviews when they begin to realise that they will be more confident with each interview they attend. It’s a great idea for young people to go for interviews as often as possible so that the whole process is less daunting. Some schools have interviews for leadership positions. Going for one of these is a great learning experience. It’s not necessarily all about being selected. Many smart students go for various leadership positions just for the interview experience.
Young people also need to know that it’s natural to be a little nervous. This is fine. But they also need strategies to be able to relax such as using positive self-talk. ‘I know that I have prepared well and I know that I would be great in this job/course.’ Applying for a range of part-time jobs is also great interview experience. Young people learn how to think on their feet and answer unexpected questions as well as giving good examples to demonstrate their suitability for a particular job.
What personal attributes and skills are highly regarded by interviewers?
Here are just a few of the most sought-after personal attributes and skills.
- Ability to make commitments and follow them through
- High emotional intelligence and cultural sensitivity
- Organizational skills
- Ability to think critically
- Ability to listen to others
- A willingness to learn from mistakes and move forward positively
- Most importantly of all… Enthusiasm and optimism about life in general
In other words, interviewers are asking themselves these questions…
‘Will this be a good person to have around the place/in my course?’
‘Will this person be a positive, enthusiastic and empathetic team member?’
Is there any practical advice to reduce nerves leading up to the interview and on the big day?
Referring to the interview day as ‘big’ can make young people more nervous. When speaking about the interview with a young person, focus on elements that are completely under their control and reassure them that because they are well prepared, that they are already streets ahead of most other applicants.
Here is a quick checklist that young people can consult when preparing for an interview…
- Have I written a list of questions I think may be asked? Have I thought about possible answers?
- Have I written a list of good examples I can use to demonstrate my work experience, leadership and problem-solving ability, ability to get along with others and be a team player etc?
- Have I researched the company/course/institution? Do I know about any special features and highlights? Websites are a must-visit.
- Have I thought about what to wear so that I feel comfortable and look professional? It’s not a good idea to wear shoes that squeak or are uncomfortable because they are brand new. It’s not a good idea to have a skirt that rides up when sitting down or a pair of suit pants that also ride up and reveal socks that are too short or too outlandish for a formal interview. Those Doctor Who socks may be a treasured item but could make a young person more nervous when they realise in the middle of an interview that they stand out like Christmas lights on a dark night.
- Have I allowed enough time to arrive early so that I am not anxious?
- Do I have copies of any documents that are required?
- Have I thought about any questions I want to ask? In most interviews, an opportunity is given for the interviewee to ask questions at the conclusion of the interview.
- Have I had something to eat so that my stomach isn’t grumbling so loudly that I am embarrassed and prevented from being able to relax and give my best answers?
Preparation is definitely the key to reducing nerves and being able to make a good impression at every interview. And every interview will make the next a little easier!