Life after school

School’s over and it’s time to head out into the big world of business and work. If your child is not moving on to tertiary study, he will want to find a job. It’s time to talk to him about having a strategy and a plan. Employers decide on the strength of an application document whether or not to grant an interview, so time spent on this is time well spent. Further down, we provide some tips for creating an effective resume and covering letter. Help your teenager make a list of potential employers and discuss how to approach them. Suggest he speaks to family and friends about any opportunities there.

If applying for an advertised position, encourage him to follow up with the employer on the phone after he’s submitted the application, to ensure that it has been received. Prepare him for the interview by discussing interview techniques, helping him plan what to wear to make a good impression, practice answering interview questions with him. Help him to make a list of things he’s done that distinguishes him from the crowd. The more preparation done, the more confident he will come across.

The job interview

It’s an exciting time for your child. He is undoubtedly a bundle of nerves and is certainly wondering what to expect and how he can prepare so that he makes a good impression. First things, first – make sure he is dressed appropriately, is neat and well groomed. Torn jeans and dropped waists are cool for socialising, but not in a corporate setting. An unkempt appearance does create a lasting first impression, but for the all the wrong reasons. The need for hygiene may seem obvious, but that stretches to not using overwhelming aftershaves and scents, which may be offensive to the interviewer. Whichever transport is involved, he should not be trying to beat the clock and the traffic to make it on time. Make sure he sets out early and arrive about 15 minutes ahead of time to avoid becomes flustered. Travelling the route at the interview time beforehand will give a good impression of how much travel time is needed.

He should have two copies of documents required by the employer - resume, police checks, driver’s licence etc - in a protective cover to keep them pristine. One copy is for the employer and the other for his reference if necessary.

In addition, he should

  • Thoroughly research the company, its business and the industry in which it operates. The interviewer will undoubtedly try to assess how much homework he has done.
  • Make sure he compares the skills, knowledge and abilities to the job description to ensure that he has what the employer is looking for.

Rehearse with him probable interview questions, which are likely to include the following:

  • What parts of the job interest you the most?
  • What do you consider your special skills and abilities?
  • What could you offer us?
  • What experience do you have in this type of work?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What do you know about this industry?
  • Are your active in any clubs or community organisations?
  • What are you leisure activities/hobbies/interests?
  • Why would you be a suitable employee?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What school subjects interested you most?
  • What are your long-term career plans?
  • How do you feel about working as part of a team?
  • Would you be prepared to work overtime or over weekends if required?

Encourage him to follow this advice once inside the interview room:

  • Turn off his mobile phone.
  • Smile and be friendly. Sit up straight and maintain eye contact.
  • Ask questions, such as:
  • What are the hours?
  • What are you looking for in a candidate?
  • What training and induction will be given?
  • Tell me about the company’s culture
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement?
  • What are the company's plans for the future?
  • Don't discuss wages, as these are often more appropriate for a second interview.
  • Listen to what the employer tells him about the organisation and the position - generally they will ask questions based on this information.
  • Be enthusiastic and confident:  Let the employer know he’s keen on the job, but don’t interrupt.
  • Be gracious: At the end of the interview smile and thank all the people involved for their time.

If, a week or two after the interview, he has not heard from the company, he should follow up.

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