Sixth Formers at Brooke Weston Academy had invaluable preparation for university and working life as a team of professionals held mock interviews and gave constructive feedback on their performance.
It gave students the opportunity for real life experience in a formal setting so that they will be better prepared in the future, with an understanding of how to present themselves and possible questions they may face. Each student had a 30 minute interview with volunteers including BWA’s Chair of Governors Phil Harris Bridge, Governors John Hill and Emma Goodwin and businessmen Colin Ducker and Alan Bros.
Phil Harris Bridge said: ‘This will give each of the students the opportunity to experience what it is like in an interview situation and what is expected of them. It is about how you appear, how you expand on your answers and how you tell interviewers what you want them to know. We want students to walk out of the room with a better understanding and better equipped for the real interview so that, when it happens, they can be in the “accept” rather than “reject” pile. We are asking difficult questions and if we don’t feel they are answering we will tell them. The feedback needs to be direct, purposeful and relevant that they can do something with.’
John Hill, who has a science background and has worked as Director of Industry for Corby, said: ‘They have got to pay attention to preparation. One wanted to be a paramedic so they have to think of the likely questions we are going to ask. If they make a statement that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, they are going to have to provide evidence why! It is down to preparation; they have got to think through what is likely to come up and have some idea of how to respond.’
Emma Goodwin, Principal at Oakley Vale Primary School, said: ‘I have been really impressed by the way the students have presented themselves. I have given them feedback and it has been interesting researching questions that are relevant to their university courses, including film production, architecture and law. The students have been very articulate and impressive.’
Colin Ducker, a businessman and Governor at CBA, said: ‘I wanted to volunteer in order to give something back to the students. There have been some really clear, determined, focused individuals and one or two where we have given them feedback with questions that they may want to reflect on.’
Alan Bros, a member of the Corby Business Group, said: ‘This process can take the mystery out of being interviewed. It is about accentuating the positives.’
Here are Phil and John’s tips to being a successful interviewee:
1) First impressions count.‘You have to walk straight into the room with confidence and have a good, solid handshake as it gives a very strong first impression. The first impression is everything. You only get one chance.’
2) Make sure your personal statement or CV is interesting and polished.‘Most of the students are Brooke Weston Academy are very good. One or two need more work. They may appear unambitious, which, for a Brooke Weston student and all the talents they have got, isn’t right. You have got to be selling yourselves.’
3) Answer the question that is asked (and don’t be afraid to expand on it). ‘It is recognising that that is your opportunity to get into your answer what you want to say about your experience, who you are, your aspirations, where you want to go and what you want to be.’
4) Give yourself time to answer. ‘As soon as the questioner has finished asking the question they are straight in with the answer - they are not giving their brain the time to think “what can I include in this answer that I want the interviewer to know?”’
5) Be confident in your body language. ‘Those who are sitting upright, confident, using their hands and expressing themselves give such a favourable impression as opposed to those who are hunched, sitting back or slouching. That has such a big impact on how you are seen as a potential candidate for whatever the opportunity is.’
6) Be prepared. ‘Not everyone is an extrovert but they have got to think “how can I sell myself? How can I bring out the inner me to this person?” You can’t be someone you are not. If you put on an act interviewers can see that. Also don’t use closed ended answers as they are very difficult for the interviewer and it doesn’t give the opportunity for further expansion on a topic.’