While the students, who are enrolled in Career Technical & Agricultural Education courses, were not applying for any particular job through the interview process, event coordinators said the intent is to help students gain general experience.
“We’re modeling it after Union Grove High School. At Union Grove High School they do this for two weeks and they interview all students, that way, by the time they’re a senior, they’ve done it four times,” Woodland High School’s Work-Based Learning Coordinator Patricia McPherson said. “... Every one of the CTAE teachers have finished a unit telling them how to dress for an interview, how to greet people, how to shake their hand, eye contact, every aspect of it.”
She added, “[The teachers] have worked with them to do a two-page application, they’ve worked with them to do an error-free resume, everything.”
Afterward, students learned how they fared in the process.
“We’ll give them a five-minute feedback session to tell them what they’ve done correctly, what they can improve upon and we’re actually going to give them a grade,” McPherson said. “This is an accumulating project, we’ve done a whole unit on resumes, on careers and so this is the end activity.”
Georgia Power Plant Bowen employee and community volunteer Janet Queen said the event is a boon both for students and the business community.
“It’s a great opportunity to share with these students some experience about careers and give them some honest feedback ... and it’s a great opportunity for me to see what interests these students have and where their career paths are, especially in light of the [Bartow County] College and Career Academy,” Queen said. “It’s given me an opportunity to see what these students are interested in, where they’re headed and how we can help them.”
Queen, who also volunteered to participate in last year’s event, said students have appeared prepared for their interviews.
“Our school systems are doing a great job preparing these students for the future, in careers, or in post secondary, wherever they choose to go, they are really preparing them well,” Queen said. “What I have seen out of some of these students in the resume and interview process this morning, some of these students have interviewed better than adults I’ve seen in the past.”
WHS student Luke Patterson said he felt prepared for his mock interview after going over techniques during class.
“Ms. [Valerie] Holt made sure that we did our resumes correctly, she watched over us to make sure we put everything in the right spot, she made sure we didn’t put anything stupid on there that would make us look not prepared for an interview,” Patterson said. “We constantly went over what we should do, she would tell us the types of questions we would be asked and would tell us to get prepared in our mind. We should be confident.”
Patterson, who plays for the school’s baseball team, said Image and Interview Day was his first experience with a job interview, but he plans to apply the skills learned to other areas.
“She told me that eye contact is big, and a lot of college coaches have told me the same thing,” Patterson said. “A person who makes eye contact shows that he’s not afraid and will get the job done, and I think that’s mainly what I took away from this, is to stay confident.”
Ricky Matthews, owner of Matthew’s Garage, is a Cass High School parent and said he regularly interviews young adults for positions at his business.
“I interview them at the shop, it’s in a little bit of a different setting than this, but I don’t usually get the responses I’m getting here and it’s refreshing,” Matthews said.
He said the students participating in Image and Interview Day will need more experience, but appeared to be professional and made good first impressions — something Matthews said often is a deciding factor when hiring a new employee.
“[I consider] their appearance when they walk in the door and how they talk to me when they first walk up — do they actually want a job or are they just trying to find a paycheck,” Matthews said. “In my business, you could make a career out of it. You can go from entry level cleaning the floors all the way to engine repair.”
He added, “I pride myself on being able to read somebody when I first meet them, and the first impression is everything.”
Cass High School’s Michaela Lague has had real-world job interview experience and holds down an after-school job at T.J. Maxx. She said, however, what she learned in class and through the interview process will be helpful in her future.
“I’ve had three business classes, so I’ve had a lot of time preparing for this,” Lague said. “... We didn’t actually apply for a certain position, but [the interviewer] asked me what I wanted to do later on, and I told her I wanted to go into advertising so she based some of her questions on advertising, like what kind of skills I have, and I have computer skills, which is really good, and [also] drawing skills.”
In the following week, students will be writing thank-you letters to their interviewers.