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Teach teens preparation for job interviews

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Dear Thelma: My 16-year-old son says he wants a summer job, and we are encouraging him to get one. The problem is getting him to approach the venture seriously. Instead of setting up his own interviews, he says others he knows just tag along with friends who land interviews and hope the restaurant or store will just interview them, too. Can you give us some advice to share with him on making a good impression and landing a summer job?

A: The best way to land the summer job you want is to properly prepare. Be serious and diligent in your preparations and you’ll have a better chance of making the best impression possible.

Encourage your son to make a short list of the type of summer jobs that interest him and where he’d like to work. Then he should do some basic research on those businesses and jobs. Are jobs available? What qualifications are necessary? What skills does he have that will fit those jobs? Imagine the questions that will be asked and come up with answers for them. Practicing his answers out loud to you may build his confidence.

When he lands an interview, tell him that the person who makes the best impression on the interviewer is most likely to get the job. Make a good impression by wearing dress pants, a collared shirt and clean shoes – even if the job is with a landscaper or a fast food restaurant. Dressing neatly and with adult standards in mind shows seriousness and respect that can set him apart from other applicants.


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Let him know the first few minutes of his interview may be the most important. He should be sure to look the interviewer in the eye, shake her hand with a firm grip and smile. When the interview ends, thank the interviewer for her time and shake her hand again.

This is a good time for him to take a close look at his email address and voice mail greeting. If he doesn’t have a standard email address that incorporates his name, he should set one up for communicating with employers. He also should be sure his voice mail greeting clearly states his name and asks callers to leave a message.

Sometimes teens don’t get excited about going through all the motions. It feels fruitless to them to make a lot of effort on the front end. It’s not an exciting way to spend their time or the path isn’t laid out for them, so they balk at it. Sometimes they even may feel that they and their friends are a packaged deal in every other situation in their lives, so tagging along on a job interview makes sense to them. They also may be nervous or scared to get on the phone and make a call.

Take this time to inform him, set some standards you expect him to follow and reassure him that he can make that good impression.

Dear Thelma: My aunt and uncle are renewing their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary. What is the protocol for giving a gift?

A: Although gifts are always voluntary, an anniversary celebration typically is a gift-giving occasion. Use your heartsense to choose something to memorialize this special couple’s 50 years together or to honor their commitment. What to give is up to you.

Some celebrating such a milestone indicate “No gifts, please” at the bottom of the invitation. If they have made such a note, do honor it. If you have something special you’d like to give them, bring it to them at another time, rather than to the party.

Loving respect for one another and good manners never go out of style.

Agree or disagree with Thelma’s advice? Post your comments or ask a question about etiquette at Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.