Preparing for Interviews
Updated: Sep 9, 2022
This will be the first of a two-part blog post on some thoughts on what you can do to help prepare for the interview process as you begin the hiring in your student-run company.
For many students, this is a very high-stress activity. At this age, most have never been on a formal interview and that inexperience can create a lot of anxiety from not knowing what to expect in the process. There is no way, to avoid the anxiousness we all feel when we step into the interview wanting that job.
ENTERING THE COMPETITIVE ARENA
I have found that one of the biggest factors that determine whether a student gets a job in their virtual company comes down to what they know about the job they are applying for. All too often a student jumps into the interview "arena" and forgets their most effective "weapon", the knowledge of the job. I have found several resources that have helped my students enter the competitive interview arena with their "weapon and shield" allowing them to aggressively compete for the job and defend themselves from the foundational questions that expose their knowledge of exactly what they will doing in the job.
THE JOB POSTING
The day after my students finalize the company idea, I prepare a job posting (click here to see a photo of the job posting) of all the jobs that will be offered in the company. This creates a high level of excitement as the students enter the class and start reading about the jobs they apply for. If you would like, you can use this link and download your own editable copy of my posting to save you time and allow you to customize which positions you offer in your student virtual company. Here the students can begin to build their foundational understanding of what is expected in each position and the typical responsibilities and tasks performed in that particular job. For leaders, I have created a detailed description of their jobs that can be reached through the navigation menus at the top under Student Leadership. Direct students interested in leadership positions here so they can get a good idea of what they will be doing in their jobs. I will create sign-up sheets below each job posting to allow students to sign up.
THE APPLICATION PACKET
Each student is required to complete an application packet prior to the interview. This packet includes a resume, cover letter and job application. I provide them with a resume presentation, resume sample & guide, cover letter sample & guide that they can look at to understand what is expected in the process. These will all be completed along with a generic job application and turned in both printed (so I have have them at the actual interview) and digital formats (so I can archive the files for future students to look at and if we need to doing video interviews using Zoom or Google Meet)
WHAT WILL THEY ASK ME?
The fear of the unknown can play with even the most confident persons' mind and as stated before, most of your students are venturing into the unknown when it comes to interviews. I have tried to reduce the anxiety of the unknown by providing my students with a copy of the interview rubric and possible interview questions that could be asked during the interview. This allows them to practice and provides an opportunity to coach the kids on how to answer questions, what and what not to say during the interview. My friend Karen Mulsbury, who teaches Virtual Enterprise in Michigan, has developed a career web site called No Filter Career Advice and has articles and video content to help kids prepare for interviews. Their post, 10 Basics of a Job Interview, is a good place for your kids to start. In addition, there are a lot of new resources found in the VE HUB (for VE teachers) under CAREER DEVELOPMENT - Task 3 - Interview and Placement Process.
CALL FOR INTERVIEWERS
I have found it is best for me that I stay clear of making decisions about who gets hired in my student companies, but I know many teachers who want to have the final say on who is hired and who is not. So with me being out of the equation, I need to recruit help from my school, community, or alumni to get this process done. Here is a generic invite letter that can be edited and sent out for your prospective interview panels. I will set up a schedule for leadership position interviews and begin to look for people to help in the process. I start with the school community and tap into friends and colleagues to see if they would be willing to serve one or more days. I send out calls through email with the schedule to all my business connections and offer them an opportunity to serve and finally, I tap into my student alumni network. I have developed an alumni Facebook and have archived email addresses and send out a call to the former students. From the responses, I set up panels for each day of interviews and hire the entire leadership team. After the Chief Officers are hired I have them become part of the interview panel moving forward and they are actively involved in hiring their leadership team. The students that move to the other side of the table and help select their team. To a person, they find this very interesting and very valuable to see what happens from the interviewer's perspective and they gain invaluable experience from this process that helps them be outstanding interview candidates as they move through their work career.