Hi. In 2014, I volunteered to help my daughter’s 8th grade Home Economics class with a talk on “Interviewing”. I have been doing that class every semester (4 per year) ever since. I have hired a LOT of people (close to 1,000). I have conducted a LOT (3,000 to 5,000) of interviews. I have seen a LOT (15,000 to 50,000) of resumes. I put together my tips on this page so that they can easily be shared and referenced. By the way….this isn’t just for your first part-time job interview. These tips will be helpful any time you need to tell someone your story. – Mike

Before the Interview


  • Get yourself a notebook and start writing down every cool thing you do
    • Sports you play, Volunteer activities, Church activities, Activities outside school (Scouting/Dancing), Musical instruments played, Plays/musicals, Clubs, Honor roll, Academic Awards
    • Know what you are good at doing
    • Know what you LOVE to do.
  • This will tell me that you are interested in things and that you can COMMIT
  • Have a professional email address.
    • Gmail.com, Not – iluvminecraft@yahoo.com
    • Extra credit: Get your own domain with an email box. Talk to your parents first!
  • Have a good phone number you can use. Home phone. Cell phone.
    • Make sure you have a nice voice mail message.
  • Put together a one page resume. Example here.
    • It is totally fine to list lawn mowing, babysitting and dog walking.
  • Details matter. Sweat the small stuff. Hint: NOTHING is small.
  • When you think you are done with the resume or application, have TWO people review it.

 Do Your Homework

  • Google the company you are going to work for, read their “About” page
  • Google and read current news articles about the company
  • Know the company and why you want to work there.
  • Know the position or positions you would like to apply for
  • Write these questions down:
    • Tell me About Yourself
      • This = Tell me about your ACCOMPLISHMENTS! 2-3.
    • What do you know about my company?
    • Why do you want to work here?
    • Why should we hire you?
    • What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
    • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
      • This question = HOW do you ACCOMPLISH so much?
  • Write down your answers.
    • In your notebook!
  • Practice your answers
    • Read them out loud.
    • Record yourself – this is absolutely b.r.u.t.a.l. – but it is 1000% effective.
    • Practice with your friends.
  • But don’t practice too much. You don’t want to sound rehearsed.
    • You have to make it sound like a conversation.
    • Don’t sound like you memorized answers.

Social Media

  • Be careful!
  • Once it is out there, it is out of your control.
  • Be very aware of what you are posting to wherever you kids are posting to these days.
    • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine.
    • Snapchat – was hacked via an app that connects to it!
  • Whatever you post is FOREVER. Even Snapchat.
  • Your social media “footprint” is like the wake a boat leaves behind.
  • Things not to put on social media (h/t to CareerSherpa):
    • No references to drugs, alcohol, or smoking (even e-cigs)
    • No references to sex
    • No guns or weapons of any kind. Even if you are a hunter.
  • Oh, and by the way, spelling counts here too. Details matter.
  • To recap – things you should NOT post on social media:
  • Once you have a resume. Consider putting up a website. Talk to your parents first!
    • Teach yourself how to do it. Then you can list it on your resume as a skill!
  • If you are an artist of any kind, you should have a website. Display your work!

Filling out an Application

  • Be accurate. Be honest. Don’t lie. Don’t omit anything.
  • Double check your work. Check your spelling. Check your grammar. No cross outs! (if you are using a paper application)
  • Don’t crumple it up. Don’t spill Mountain Dew on it. If these things happen – GET A NEW FORM.
  • Details matter. Sweat the small stuff. Hint: NOTHING is small.

Submitting Your Application

  •  When you hand in or submit your resume, don’t just hand it to the guy working behind the counter at Clawson’s.
    • Because he threw it in a pile of junk on the counter behind him while asking (to no one in particular) “Are we even HIRING?”
  • Find a manager. Find the Human Resources person. Find someone that is “in charge”.

Build Relationships! Adults Call it “Networking”

  • It doesn’t matter that you don’t have any experience or how old you are.
  • Your goal is simply to provide value to the people you meet, even if it’s something simple like a restaurant recommendation or showing someone a new app on your phone. Have confidence in yourself that you have value to contribute. (h/t to Art of Manliness)
  • Share information about jobs with your friends.
  • It is not about making friends and being popular. It is about gaining and spreading INFLUENCE.
  • You HAVE to get out there and meet people. Always try to expand your circles.
  • OPPORTUNITIES ARE EVERYWHERE. Find the connections between people.
  • CONNECT and introduce your friends to each other.
  • Building relationships is an investment in your future!

Dress for Success

  • Dress conservatively.
  • Match what you wear to the interview to the place of business.
    • If everyone wears a suit, you better suit up.
  • Boys. Shirt with a collar (white!). Nice pants (black or khaki). No jeans.
    • White undershirt. Absorbs sweat. Protects the shirt.
    • Tie not necessarily required. But it is a nice touch. No goof ball ties!
      • Stop with the bow ties. You are not cool enough, yet.
    • Learn how to tie it. Bottom should hit the middle of your belt buckle.
    • Wear a belt. NO SAGGING PANTS!
    • Shoes! No sneakers. No moon boots.
    • Get on your bike and collect cans if you have to.
      • Go door to door and ask to do yard work. Pull weeds. Collect dog poop.
      • Go to Goodwill and get what you need. No one will EVER KNOW.
  • Girls. Nice top/blouse (white!). Pants (black) or knee length skirt (black)
    • Mrs. Lally says skirt should cover your thighs when you are sitting
    • Shoes! Flats. No heels. No Uggs.
    • Not too tight/too short/too revealing
    • Tasteful nail polish.
    • If you have to ask if something is tasteful – IT ISN’T.
    • Easy with the makeup.
  • Both.
    • No bright colors. Don’t be too trendy or fashionable.
    • Haircuts are always a good idea.
    • Limit the body spray/perfume. Limit means DO NOT USE.
    • Limit the jewelry. Only 3 Alex + Ani/Lokai bracelets at any time.
    • Shower before the interview.
    • Deodorant. It is your friend.
    • Clean clothes/No wrinkles. Ask your parents about ironing.
    • Fingernails, clean, neat and trimmed. Girls – no chipped nail polish.

Bring a Pen and Something to Write On!!!!

  • In fact, do this for the rest of your life any time you walk into a meeting.
  • Take notes!

Bring Extra Copies of Your Resume

Be on Time

  • If you are on time, you are late. “On Time” means 5 minutes early.
  • Do NOT be there earlier than 5 minutes.
    • You will look too eager. This is a negative.
    • It also puts pressure on the person meeting with you. This is a negative.

When You Walk in the Door – TURN YOUR CELLPHONE OFF. Not Vibrate. OFF. COMPLETELY.

  • Actually, do this BEFORE you walk in the door.

Be Nice to EVERYONE You Meet

  • Someone will most likely greet you.
  • If you are disrespectful to that person, they WILL tell the person you are meeting.

During the Interview

What Do Hiring Managers Want to Know?

  • Have you successfully done similar work in the past?
  • Will you get along with my team?
  • What do you know about my company? (We’ll talk about this below)
  • Do you know what you are getting yourself into?
  • Are you confident in your abilities? (You are! Because you have an ACCOMPLISHMENT NOTEBOOK!)

Your JOB…your IMMEDIATE JOB…when you are sitting across from this manager is to HELP her answer these questions.
(h/t to Lifehacker)


  • Wipe your hands. Be subtle. No one wants to touch your sweaty, clammy hand.
  • LOOK THE PERSON IN THE EYE! You will not turn to stone. THE WHOLE TIME.
  • SMILE!
  • Use a complete grip. Space between your thumb and index finger should interlock with the person you are greeting.
  • NO tips of your fingers. You are not a duchess.
  • No ‘bro handshakes. I am not your bro.
  • Use a firm squeeze. This might be the hardest part. Practice with your friends.
    • Let them know you are there but don’t try to break their fingers.
  • 2-3 pumps/shakes. Don’t get crazy.
  • Say something. “Thanks for meeting with me” or “It is nice to meet you.”

Make (and Hold) Eye Contact!

  • Don’t stare the person down.
  • Periodically hold and maintain eye contact. It shows that you are interested.
    • TIP: Use the triangle method. (h/t to Art of Manliness) Focus on one eye for a beat, then the other eye for a beat, then the person’s mouth for a beat, look away for a beat. Repeat.


  • And lean forward a little bit – people will respond positively to it
  • People will view you as smarter, more attractive, relaxed, sincere and reliable
  • And it will help YOU relax
  • “In short, each time you smile at someone else, both of you will experience activated reward centers and a release of positive chemicals in your brains.” Read this.

Basic Communication

  • Use the person’s name. Mr./Mrs./Ms.
    • You should have this information BEFORE you meet them.
  • Make sure you are paying attention. FOCUS.
  • Make sure the person you are talking to knows you are listening.

Don’t Fidget

  • Don’t play with your face, Don’t play with your hair, Don’t babble, Don’t crack jokes
  • Have good posture. Stand and sit up straight. No slouching.
  • Do not cross your arms across your body.
  • Remember: eyes on the person you are talking with – not looking around the room or at your shoes.

Questions to be Prepared For :

  • KNOW these questions AND your answers.
    • Write them down. PRACTICE! Video yourself.
  • Tell me About Yourself
    • This = Tell me about your ACCOMPLISHMENTS! 2-3.
  • What do you know about my company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?

Questions to Ask the Interviewer:

  • What can I do to be successful here?
    • WARNING: The person you are talking to may fall out of their chair onto the floor.
  • Where have people successful in the position transferred/moved to?
  • Can you describe a typical day/shift to me?
  • Do you think I am a good fit?
  • After talking for a while: what reservations do you have about hiring me?
  • When can I start?

On the Way Out

  • Shake the person’s hand again.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Thank them for their time. “Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.”

After the Interview

  • Send a thank you note.
    • Email is ok. Hand-written is WAY better.
  • Tell them you are interested in working at their place of business.
  • If they haven’t reached out to you after one week. Pick up the phone and call them.
  • If you don’t hear back after two weeks, move on.

Top Deal Breakers (according to 2017 Jobvite Recruiter Report)

  • 86% of interviewees were Rude to the Receptionist/Greeter
  • 71% Checked their phone DURING the interview
  • 58% were late
  • 52% of candidates had bad hygiene

General Life and Career Tips

    • You have to be CONSTANTLY updating your skills.
  • Let me repeat that –
    • always
    • be
    • learning
  • Learn how to write effectively.
  • Develop the ability to create and nurture relationships.
  • Details matter. Sweat the small stuff. Hint: NOTHING is small.
  • Help others. Pay it forward.
  • Buy and read many times: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
  • Know who you are, know what you are good at doing, know your values.
    • What are you the BEST at doing?
  • Read something every day. Snapchat or Instagram don’t count.
    • Find something that interests you and read a little bit about it every.single.day
  • BE AN ARTIST no matter what path you take.
    • But don’t be a diva.
  • BE A CRAFTSMAN/CRAFTSWOMAN. Take pride in whatever it is you do.
  • Learn to MAKE stuff.
  • Devote time to figuring out what you love and then do it.

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