I was asked once again by CXK (formerly Connexions) to carry out mock interviews with Year 11 students at Highsted Grammar School. The idea is to give students an insight into what to expect when they go for their first job and, in my opinion, an excellent way to reduce the potential anxiety they could otherwise have when arriving for their interview. The whole year was interviewed by around 15 local businesses in and around the Swale area, each giving a different angle on interview styles, etc. For me, it was a case of informing the students what to expect and also what a prospective employer would expect from them. They were asked questions that usually crop up at an interview and feedback was given at the end on how they performed and what they could do to possibly improve.
To summarise, the key areas I suggested they think about were:
- Their CV – make sure this is spot on with no grammatical errors. Include on it ANYTHING interesting about themselves as this may be used as a talking point at the interview. Also include any part time jobs, charity work or awards they may have won. If the CV doesn’t look good, it’s unlikely they will even get to the interview!
- Prior to your interview, go the day before to find out how long it takes to get there and introduce yourself to the receptionist. Introduce yourself and tell them why you are there. Also ask questions about what is it like to work there, do they know who will be interviewing you, how to dress, etc. You will be amazed how well this goes down with a future employer. Also, do some homework – go to their website and read up on them so you know what they are about.
- At the interview be polite, confident and try and stay relaxed. This is your ONLY chance to make an impression and get through to the next interview round. Ensure a good firm hand shake when you arrive and remember to smile! Keep eye contact and sit up straight. And don’t be afraid if you are asked a question that you don’t understand for the interviewer to repeat it or confirm what they are after.
- Finally, make sure you have a couple of questions to ask at the end of the interview. When you leave thank them for the opportunity and finish with another good hand shake.
The students I interviewed were a real credit to the school and although some started off quietly, they all presented themselves well and acted confidently. I wish them all the success in the future and hopefully today will give them a slightly better chance of getting their first job!