Preparing juniors for interviews

Most adults can honestly say that they still feel unprepared and nervous for a job interview. Imagine how teenagers feel when they don’t even know what to expect? Walking into your first interview can be absolutely daunting for most young people. Even worse yet, if they come away feeling like they weren’t prepared and failed, then it can really damage their confidence moving forward. In some cases this could stop them from applying for work in the fear of going through the terrifying process. Working in human resources I know that a majority of us would never have the intention to make someone feel failure when they leave an interview, but if we don’t prepare our young people then how will they succeed?

Parents, guardians, mentors, teachers and friends can offer words of wisdom and encouragement to do their best but what if I told you there are better ways to help them prepare? I currently give free mentoring to students at a local High School on behalf of ARC to try and better prepare our young people for interviews. We also run job readiness workshops to boost chances of employment for aspiring candidates. We interview high school graduates on a daily basis and offer advice that I hope to share with you in this blog so that we can continue to prepare our young people and give them the confidence to put their best foot forward.

Here are 10 easy steps that we often assume a junior will know:
1. What should I wear?
A company may tell a junior to wear business attire for their interview. We assume that they know what this means.

· Black pants/skirt and a collar shirt always looks smart for any position
· All clothing ironed
· Clean hair & well groomed
· No runs in stockings
· Do not wear extremely high, high heels or platform shoes
· If you wear nail polish (not required), use clear or a natural colour (no bright colours)

· Black pants & a pressed clean collared shirt
· Dark shoes (polished)
· Dark Socks
· Clean hair & well groomed
· No beards – moustaches are accepted, though keep neat & trimmed
· Minimal cologne
· Clean trimmed fingernails
· Empty pocket – no noisy coins
· All clothing ironed

2. When should I arrive?
15minutes early. You may have paperwork to fill out or need to find the exact location. No sooner and certainly do not run late. Make time for travel, parking and locating the door if you haven’t been there before. Phone ahead of your interview if unforeseen circumstances arise.

3. What should I take?
A printed copy of your resume, I.D and any certificates or relevant work information. Do not take food, chew gum or have odours lingering such as cigarettes or heavy cologne.

4. Be mindful of your body language.
Show interest, sit up straight, smile and make eye contact. Do not yawn, swing on your chair or tap your pen.

5. How do I behave?
Listen attentively. Turn off your phone and ask politely if they could repeat the question if you don’t understand.

6. How should I answer questions?
Be positive and get straight to the point with answers, but don’t just answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’ either. Don’t lie, it will be obvious, don’t use words you don’t understand and don’t speak negatively of a previous employer.

7. Who should I take with me for support?
Just yourself. If you do need someone with you for confidence, transport or safety reasons then ask them to wait outside.

8. What will they ask me?
10/10 times we will ask you what your strengths and weaknesses are. The BEST way to prepare for an interview is to know who you are as a worker and be able to explain that in a positive way. Also have your own questions ready such as “When do you think you will be making a decision?”

9. Should I provide examples?
Yes, if they ask you things like “explain a time when you showed a good eye for detail”. Explain the job, your role and the scenario you were in. Google top interview questions and right down your answer for as many as you can find. The better you know yourself the easier it will be.

10. Be your friendly self. The person interviewing you is human too, ask them how their day has been. Smile, breathe and give a firm hand shake on entrance and exit.

Any boss or recruiter can tell if you’re nervous, it’s how you handle yourself and your answers that matter the most. All 10 of the above are not followed on a regular basis with interviews we conduct and so we prepare our potential trainees before sending them to an interview with a host. Don’t set our young people up for failure, get them as equipped as possible but never assume that the above is simply common sense. It is learnt and therefore taught, by us. Teach them that sometimes they won’t be successful and that to learn from their mistakes means to prepare themselves better for next time. Finally my personal favourite to encourage our ARCies is that “you’re the expert of you” the person asking questions isn’t interrogating you, they just want to get to know more about you to determine if you’re the right fit and you are the only one that can give them the answers.

Jessica Sinclair

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