Do’s and Don’t s of Teen Job Interviews
With all the attention about teen volunteerism these days, let’s not discount the real value of a simple paid job. In my opinion, every kid old enough to drive a car should have a job, whether that means baby-sit on a regular basis, cut the neighbors’ lawn on weekends, work as a lifeguard at the pool, scoop ice cream cones at Oberweis, or whatever else earns them a few bucks. That’s they key word—“earn.” It doesn’t matter what kind of work it is, as long as he or she gets paid and it doesn’t involve anything illegal, of course. I know it’s not easy to find the time with their busy schedules and academic demands, plus job opportunities are hard to come by in this depressed economy. To make matters worse, teenagers now compete with unemployed adults in the workforce.
Still, if teens are willing to hang in there, fill out endless applications, and do the grunt work, they will eventually succeed, that is, land a job without having the pressure to pay for rent, groceries, or utilities yet.
For students about to enter the college rat race, it’s worthwhile to know that admission officers aren’t necessarily looking for resumes padded with summer internships at corporate offices or missionary work in Africa that indicate a parent’s influence. What matters at this stage in the game is having an ordinary job, and the less glamorous the better. They can clean tables at a fast food restaurant, tear tickets at a movie theatre, dry windshields at a car wash, or start a dog walking service. The object is not to climb the company ladder or even make a living, but to learn the basic lessons in life: be responsible, show up on time, satisfy customers, follow rules, balance work and school, and take orders from a boss who may not be nice or fair all the time. Welcome to the real world.
As explained in Wendy Mogel’s book, “The Blessing of a B Minus,” the Jewish lesson here is that menial labor is just as important as the grandiose stuff, such as finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, if it’s contributing to the whole. In other words, the holiness in the ordinary is what gets the job done and helps day-to-day life run smoothly.
So the other day, I’m sharing a Canadian bacon pineapple pizza (we don’t keep kosher) with my son at a neighborhood restaurant, and we overhear the manager interviewing a potential employee at the table next to us. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation, and so I jotted down a few notes on my napkin. I thought my son would appreciate these helpful tips when he interviews for a job. (There I go again…enabling him). Also, keep in mind this Q & A relates to a pizzeria but can apply to any type of work, just so you get the idea.
“Do’s and Don’ts for Teen Job Interviews”
Question: Why do you feel you are the best candidate for this job?
Do Answer: Because I’m responsible, reliable, and a hard worker.
Don’t Answer: I really like pizza.
Question: Do you have any experience in this type of work?
Do Answer: Not exactly, but I am a fast learner. Also I want to learn as much as I can about the restaurant business.
Don’t Answer: I bake frozen cheese pizza at home, and I don’t mind putting my dishes in the sink.
Question: What are your strengths?
Do Answer: I’m a good listener and I like to be around people.
Don’t Answer: I can eat pizza everyday and not get sick of it.
Question: What are your weaknesses?
Do Answer: I’ve been called a perfectionist, but I like to do things right.
Don’t Answer: I’m groggy and crabby in the morning, so I don’t work early hours.
Question: Are you available on weekends?
Do Answer: Yes I am. And if ever I’m not, I’ll be sure to let you know in advance.
Don’t Answer: Sure, unless I’m grounded.
Question: How would you handle a difficult customer?
Do Answer: I would politely listen to their complaint without interrupting them, and then try to help them solve the problem.
Don’t Answer: I’d dump salad over their head.
Question: How would you handle working with someone you didn’t particularly like?
Do Answer: I get along easily with people, so I don’t think that would be a problem.
Don’t Answer: I’d handle it the same way. I’d slip a peperoncini in their Pepsi.
Question: What position do you think would fit you best?
Do Answer: I would like to learn as many different positions and jobs as I can. I’m really flexible.
Don’t Answer: I want your job because it pays more.
Question: Do you have your own transportation?
Do Answer: Yes. I can drive here or my parents have agreed to take me to work.
Don’t Answer: I can always walk, but I might be late and sweaty.
Question: Why should I hire you?
Do Answer: Because I have a positive attitude and I’ll work hard every day.
Don’t Answer: I really need the money, and did I mention that I like leftover cold pizza?