When the time arrives for your teen to interview for his first job or for the college of her choice, you want her to put her best foot forward – you want him to be well-prepared. I am the parent of a young adult myself and it seems like only yesterday I was helping him prepare for these situations. I wanted him to feel confident and to tell his story in a compelling way so his prospective employer and his college interviewer would understand what a special young man he is.
I am an executive coach and work with high achieving professionals who want to reach even greater career heights so I know how important it is to effectively self-promote. Over my 14 years in this field, I have learned that all of us need to be able to tell our stories in order to reach our goals. Whether that goal is becoming CEO of a company, being accepted to a first-choice college, landing a part-time job or internship, we all have our own unique stories to tell and how well we tell them determines our success.
Teens Need to Make Their Story Compelling
Back to your teens – Each of our children has strengths, accomplishments and character traits that set them apart from the pack but few know how to talk about those strengths, accomplishments and traits effectively. Teens typically are reticent to talk about themselves, especially to an adult outside of their circle of family friends, and those who are more open with sharing their stories often fall into the trap of appearing arrogant.
So, how do you prepare your teen to tell his or her story in a compelling way with authenticity, confidence and grace? Last year I wrote a book entitled The Art of Self-Promotion, and while the book focuses on helping professionals succeed in their careers, the principles are equally applicable to teens.
Determine Your Strengths and List Accomplishments
As a parent, you should help your teen consider her strengths. Where does she excel? Ask her to think about what she is complimented for on a regular basis. She should then think of a story or example that can illustrate each of her core strengths. For example, if Maddie is a leader, she could illustrate that strength by telling how she led an initiative to make healthy changes in the school’s cafeteria offerings.
Then, be sure your teen has catalogued his accomplishments. Our kids accomplish a great deal on a regular basis and often forget or minimize their accomplishments. As parents, we need to remind our teens of the things they have done and help them see the value in what they have accomplished so they can relay those accomplishments to their interviewer. If Brandon raised more money for cancer research than anyone else in his town, then he should be prepared to discuss that accomplishment and how he made it happen. What did he do, and as importantly, what character traits did he develop or draw upon in the process?
Be Yourself in an Interview — Show Your Personality
It is also important to remind your teen that she should be herself in an interview. Authenticity is critically important since it helps the interviewer get to know your child. Interviewers are looking for achievement and they are also looking for personality. Your son or daughter needs to showcase his or her unique sense of humor, voice and way of being in an interview so that the interviewer can determine fit.
Preparation is critical for interview success and these simple exercises make a significant difference. As a parent, if you help your teens reflect and hold them accountable for taking the time to prepare before an interview, they will be able to effectively tell their stories when the time comes.