MOUNT VERNON — One goal schools have is to help students learn the skills necessary to enter the work force. Besides the technical skills required for a job, the students need to know how to prepare a resumé and how to conduct themselves in an employment interview.
Guidance counselor Kathie Brown said the applied communication teachers help the students prepare job resumés. Brown then gives lessons on interview tips and hints and standard do’s and don’ts.
“We go over all types of things,” she said. “Grooming, being on time, typical questions. We go over the firm handshake and eye contact. We have them ready to ask two questions at the end of their interview. We teach the questions you don’t want to ask. We want them to show enthusiasm. We talk about tattoos and piercings, posture and those types of things.”
Community members then team with the KCCC staff on Mock Interview Day to give the opportunity to practice the skills they learned in the classroom. This year, 22 volunteers and businessmen, including three former KCCC students, conducted mock interviews, and, after completing a rating sheet, go over the ratings with the students to give them immediate feedback.
Mark Blanchard, assistant vice president and manager of the First-Knox National Bank, Fredericktown branch, has been conducting mock interviews for several years. He said talking to him or another volunteer interviewer gives the students a different perspective than what they get talking to a teacher or familiar person.
“I really enjoy it,” Blanchard said. “I know how important it is to make a good first impression and I’m all for trying to educate and help these young people.”
He was impressed with this year’s student participants.
“These kids this year came to us very well prepared,” he said. “They had their resumé in hand. They looked the part. They knew to ask certain questions. They had done their homework.
“I tell them it is important to do their homework and understand where it is they are applying. I tell them, ‘Not only are you, the student, trying to sell us on hiring you, we also are trying to sell our business and why we want you to come work for us.’ I try to explain to them that it is definitely a two-way street. It’s OK to ask questions. It’s OK to come with a portfolio and a folder and jot down some questions as the interview goes along.”
Brown said often students may actually be employed by the person who interviews them, or enter into a mentoring relationships as a result of the mock interview opportunity. This year, at least five students had firm job leads by the end of the day.
“Mock Interview Day also lets the community see our students and what we are doing here,” said Brown. “It’s just positive all the way around. The Chef & Catering students prepare lunch for our interviewers and the horticulture students had a hanging basket for them to take home as a thank you. The student ambassadors helped interviewers find their rooms and get settled. It’s just a big team effort.”