You've probably heard your parents talk about the importance of making a good first impression on a job interview. They may have suggested you "dress for success," and they're right.
Here are 5 strategies to help you ace your job interview:
Dress the part. Even if the job you're applying for involves wearing a uniform or working behind the scenes, the way you dress for an interview tells your potential employer that you take the job seriously. If you're a guy, wear a nice pair of pants and a shirt. A tie usually isn't necessary for a summer job, although it doesn't hurt to wear one! Sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans don't work. The same goes for girls: Wear something simple and avoid short skirts or skimpy tops.
Appear confident. Look your potential employer in the eye and shake his or her hand. Good manners go a long way to helping you land a job. Be friendly and don't make jokes.
Be prepared. Appearing confident is easiest when you know what you're talking about. Find out what you can about the position or company in advance and show your knowledge during the interview. Researching the company shows the interviewer that you're smart and eager to learn. Doing your research also lets you learn what inspires you about the company so you can share your enthusiasm with the interviewer.
If you can, find out more about the position itself. Looking on the company's website or talking to someone who has worked there allows you to think in advance about which skills you have that fit well with the job.
Answer (and ask!) questions. You'll no doubt be asked typical interview questions, such as why you're interested in the position, what types of skills you offer, and the hours you're available to work. Prepare your answers before the interview.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Questions don't make you look stupid. Asking good questions shows the interviewer you're thoughtful and that you're not afraid to interact with other people — a particularly good interview strategy if the position involves dealing with people, such as sales. If you can, practice being interviewed by an adult in business. When the real time comes, you'll be more prepared and comfortable.
Follow up. Send the interviewer a brief email or letter thanking him or her for spending time with you. Say how much you are interested in the position. You might be surprised at what a good strategy follow-up notes are, especially if you're interviewing for an internship or office position. Check all your spelling and grammar before you send your note.
Parents or older siblings can offer good advice about job hunting and interviewing. So don't hesitate to ask for help on everything from putting together your résumé to choosing an interview outfit. Chances are, you'll be interviewing with and working for people their age anyway so a little insight can't hurt.