Preparing for summer job interviews

Practice is important when it comes to interviewing skills. Here are three ways to hone your skills for this important experience.

Now that spring has sprung, many teenagers will be looking for summer jobs. After you have polished your resume and filled out the applications, it is time to think about preparing for the interview. Michigan State University Extension recommends practicing your interviewing skills with teachers, 4-H leaders, coaches or other trusted adults in your life to increase your communication skills and boost your confidence.

There are several different ways to practice interviewing skills. One way is to simply set aside some time for yourself to read through sample questions and think about your answers. If you can find a quiet space, it is most effective to actually practice your answers out loud. This gives you the advantage of being able to try out your phrasing and start over if you want. It is also helpful to write out answers to the questions as if it’s an essay test; if you spend time writing out your answers, you will be able to remember more of what you want to say in an actual interview.

Another way to practice these skills would be to ask a trusted adult, like a teacher or coach, to sit with you and ask you the questions. This will feel more like a real interview than sitting by yourself, but still has the advantage of being more conversational in nature. If you do this with a number of adults, you can hear diverse perspectives and feedback on how to improve. This can be done here and there when you have time, a couple of questions each time, or in bigger time blocks to go through a whole list of questions. Ask your adult mentors to include questions they have been asked in interviews as well as questions they would want answered from a prospective employee.

The most formal way to practice interviews is to attend a mock interview event. MSU Extension organizes several of these events around the state. Typically, students arrive dressed as if for an actual interview and spend 15-20 minutes talking with a business professional. These events may also include opportunities to have your resume critiqued, educational displays about college or military options, or workshops to further your knowledge. (Connect with your local 4-H office to find out if there are mock interview possibilities in your area, or for help to organize one near you!)

These events can really help youth prepare for real-world interviews as the feedback is immediate and relevant. One student who attended a recent event said, “After today, I feel like I could go into any interview with confidence. I would definitely recommend this experience to other high school students.”

Practicing an interview may sound like a lot of work, but it can be as simple as a five-minute conversation or as structured as a mock interview. This practice will help you gain skills and confidence for the real thing!

Michigan 4-H has many resources to help youth in their preparation for careers and the workforce, including articles about resumes and interviewing.

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