Five Things to Know to Succeed in an Interview


Finding a job can be difficult. According to Zippia, a job search website, an individual will, on average, get one interview for every six applications they complete. So, when you get an interview, it is important to be prepared.

“Preparing for an interview is one of the major components of TeenQuest’s pre-employment training,” says James Avery, director of Talent Development at Flint & Genesee Education & Talent. “Interviewing can be difficult, and we want to make sure our teens have the tools to be able to get and keep that job.”

Through TeenQuest, students learn job-ready skills including how to create a resume, effectively communicate in a job setting and nail an interview. At the end of the five-week program, students participate in mock interviews to practice what they learned.

Here are some key elements that help students, and adults, succeed at a job interview.

Start with a good introduction

Every interview should start with a firm handshake and a good introduction. This is the “elevator pitch,” where job seekers share key points about themselves that will stand out to an employer. These points include your name, a little bit about you personally, what you are looking for in a job and what makes you a good candidate. Keep in mind, this pitch should be 20 to 30 seconds, so make sure to keep it brief and to the point.

2. Maintain eye contact

Maintaining eye contact lets the interviewer know that you are engaged in the interview. Eye contact also makes you appear more confident, creates a sense of trust, displays manners, creates likability and demonstrates your focus on the interviewer.

3. Be knowledgeable

One of the best things you can do when preparing for an interview is to make sure you know about the job and the organization for which you are interviewing. This can be done by looking at the company’s website; checking out its social media pages, if applicable; Googling the company, and using your network. If you know someone who works for the company, that can give you a good leg up in an interview.

4. Prepare questions

During an interview, there will be time for you to ask questions of the interviewer. These questions can pertain to company culture, job duties and expectations and goals of the company. It is also a time where you can ask about the next steps following the interview. Whatever the questions may be, it is important to plan beforehand.

5. Follow-up

After the interview has been completed, the final step to nailing the interview is following up. Immediately afterward, you can follow up with a thank-you note expressing your gratitude for the opportunity. You can also follow up if you haven’t heard back from the employer in the time frame they gave you during the interview.

Learn more on how to get and keep a job through TeenQuest. The next session starts January 10. Sign up today at

TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.