Interview questions for young people

Interview questions for young people

Young people won’t have a lot of work experience to talk about in an interview, so to get a good sense of who they are, what they can bring to the role and how they get on with other people, you will need to help them communicate the skills they have acquired from school, home or their community. 

Let’s compare the questions you might ordinarily ask in an interview, and how you can adjust these for a young person.

What attracted you to this job?

A young person new to interviews might not know how to answer this in a way that plays to their strengths. We recommend that you offer some additional questions to help them answer it, such as: 

  • “What stood out to you in the job advertisement that made you think ‘I could do that’?” 

  • “Did something about the company appeal to you?” 

How could I support you in your professional development? 

Try rewording this question: “What kind of things would you like to learn in the role?” 

What is your weakness? 

This is a hard question even for the most experienced interviewers. We would suggest working this in with the conversation around professional development, with questions such as: 

  • “Is there anything you think you might need some help with in this role because you don’t have the experience yet?” 

  • “Was there anything on our job advertisement that seemed like it might be a challenge for you, which might require some help or training?” 

What are you passionate about? 

This has the potential for one-word answers, such as “rugby”, “church” and “Instagram” so to help you learn more about them, take their answer and draw upon it: 

Rugby: “Did you enjoy being a part of a team?” 

Church: “Were you involved with any church events, organising or volunteering for them?” 

Instagram: “How do you think Instagram could work for our company?” 

Tell me about a problem you have had and what you did to resolve it. 

This question is typically asked to see how a candidate can handle a problem. As young people are unlikely to have work-related examples, you will need to reword the question. For example: 

  • “Tell me about your transition between high school and university – what did you do to adapt to your new environment?” 

  • “Tell me about a time when you’ve had to ‘change tactics’ and try a new approach because something wasn’t working anymore. What were the results?” 

What are your salary expectations? 

This is another difficult question, even for seasoned workers. A young person is unlikely to know this - or feel comfortable answering it. They will probably fear that answering incorrectly will take them out of consideration. 

To make things easier from the get-go, we would recommend stating the salary in the job advertisement for entry-level positions. If you do need to talk about it in the interview, bring it up by saying “salaries for this position are typically between X and Y, so based on your experience and ability to do the role, do you think that this is fair?” 

Some other great questions are: 

  • Who is one of your role models and why? 

  • How would your friends describe you? 

  • How has your family or school life prepared you for going out into the workforce? (ie. are you relied on to take particular responsibility for something in the family such as looking after younger siblings? Or managing the shopping budgets? Did you lead a movement in your school to allow girls to wear shorts instead of skirts?)