You may be familiar with the following saying: Practice makes perfect. I think that Hall of Fame Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi said it best. He said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” This quote resonates with me because it illustrates that practicing the right techniques will yield the desired outcome, not just any repetitive activity. Part of my job as the Career Coach for Madison City Schools is to provide opportunities for students to practice skills that they will utilize in everyday life. Soft skills are an important aspect of employment that students must be aware of. One area of soft skills that is vital to their future success in the workplace is interview skills. Students should leave high school with working knowledge of the resume and interview process and best practices that will aid them in performing well in an interview.
This school year I have had the privilege of connecting students at James Clemens and Bob Jones with business and industry partners for Mock Interview Days. Various employers travelled to each school to work with students on sharpening their interview skills. Each student was able to do a mock interview with a real professional, and they also received feedback after their interview. Jessye Gaines, Jonathan Bailey, Dave Frederick, Melinda Lawson, Kara Koler, and Jennifer Dennis were gracious enough to allow their students in the Medical and Engineering Academies to interview with actual healthcare professionals and engineers who gave them valuable advice on the interview process. Inviting these professionals to interview students also strengthens the partnership that Madison City Schools has with local business and industry. Companies love participating because they feel it is important to mentor the future workforce in our area. The feedback they gave students was so critical because people do not typically receive any feedback after an actual interview—you’re either hired or never contacted again in some cases.
Leading up to Mock Interview Day, each class was able to learn about interview skills and strategies. Students also created new resumes, and many students edited existing resumes. We discussed the importance of resumes and how they coincide with job, scholarship, and internship interviews. Students had access to some sample questions, and they were aware of the grading rubric that was used to evaluate their interview. These mock interviews not only prepared students for the atmosphere of a future job interview but also prepared them for a scholarship or internship interview. They will experience one or more of these types of interviews in the near future, so actively interviewing was very practical for students. These interviews were worthwhile experiences for these students, and hopefully these experiences will prepare them for real interviews in the future. Even though the interviews were for practice only, the knowledge and insight the students gained will pay dividends down the road as they enter into their chosen career fields.