Career readiness: Mock interviews
Mock interviews prepare BMHS juniors for job market
Soft Skills Development
Devonte Cordier wore a red argyle sweater to practice, where a job coach determined he’s got game.
That’s great news for the Beloit Memorial High School junior, and for local employers who want more than just warm body with a resume. They want students with personality, poise confidence and other “soft skills. “
Cordier, 17, was among more than 200 students who went through mock job interviews in October with 50 volunteers from the business world. Students were evaluated through HR eyes, and then given tips on how to improve their chances to get hired.
The mock interviews are part of the School District of Beloit’s emphasis on career readiness efforts.
“It’s not real, but you have to take it likes it real because it’s practice for a real job interview,” said Cordier, 17, who plans to attend college and someday run a name brand clothing store.
The mock interview program started a decade ago and are now organized by the Business Education Partnership Committee of the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corp.
“I’ve had a number of students who came back and said ‘I actually learned a lot from that experience and it helped me find work’,” said English teacher Amanda Sellen.
At first, students could elect to sign up for the program, but mock interviews are now part of the 11th grade English curriculum. Students receive grades for learning life skills, such as writing a resume, filling out a job application and what potential employers are looking for when they interview prospects.
Business Community Collaboration
Rick Barder, a retired banker who with Bonds co-chairs the GBEDC Business Education Partnership Committee, said that resumes and applications are important to employers. But it’s the soft skills – handshakes, eye contact, clothing, body language, smile and the ability to communicate – that are often the difference between who gets hired and who doesn’t.
“Mock interviews bring potential employers into our schools, giving our students the chance to showcase their talents as they gain employability skills,” said Anthony Bonds, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Innovation and committee co-chair. “Over the years, dozens of students have been hired locally because of their interaction with business partners during mock interviews.”
And the importance of soft skills are quickly learned during mock interviews. A student in flip flops, a low-cut blouse or with gum in their mouth during an interview will lower evaluation scores. So will hand wringing, knuckle cracking and a blank stare at the table top. Students who use their interviewer’s name, can clearly state their goals for the job and their future, and look a potential employer in the eye as they answer questions will score higher.
“This coaching and teaching is huge,” said volunteer Ron Whitley, a 1974 graduate of BMHS who owns a commercial cleaning business. “If you’re working with and developing young people in particular . . . then they are more likely to stay in the community, make an impact and provide talent for companies in the community.”
For More Information
Student Mock Interview Program at Beloit Memorial
REACH | Advanced Career Education
Greater Beloit Economic Development Corp.
608 313 8494