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Preparing for Interviews

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

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 opportunity posting (click here to see a photo from my classroom of the job opportunity posting) of all the jobs that will be offered in the company. I used bright colors, but that is not required. 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 job opportunity posting to save you time and allow you to customize which positions you offer in your student virtual company. You also might post the department projects that the students will be responsible for if they are hired. Here is the link to the projects by department for the first semester. 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 on my website 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, and 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 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 do video interviews using Zoom or Google Meet)


WHAT WILL THEY ASK ME?

The fear of the unknown can play with even the most confident person's 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 score sheet 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 taught Virtual Enterprise in Michigan, developed a career website called No Filter Career Advice which 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 to 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 invitation 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 archived alumni email addresses and send out calls to former students, the need for help with interviews. 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 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.


DRESSING FOR THE INTERVIEW

"You never have a second chance to make a first impression"

Before you say a single word to the interviewer, you have already made an impression based on how you’re dressed. The guidelines given here are commonly accepted as appropriate for interviewing. Every company has a different dress code; how you dress at the job may have very little to do with how you dress for an interview.

I recommend this site. It talks about everything you need to know about dressing for an interview. This clothing, hairstyle, and makeup suggestions for an interview and also has a what not to wear.


PREPPING FOR YOUR INTERVIEW

There are a number of things you can do to prepare for an interview. Review this web page to help you prepare

Below are the questions that the interview panel will have for you. make sure you can answer these questions.

How to Answer: Tell me about yourself


Possible Interview Questions-Leadership

  • What attracted you to this leadership position?

  • What can you tell me about the position you are applying for?

  • What do you feel is the most important quality a leader can have?

  • What is the best quality you would bring to this company if you were hired?

  • In what area to feel you need the most improvement?

  • What is your leadership style?

  • Why is it important to work as a team?

  • How would you motivate an employee that is lazy?

  • If on the job, you had completed all your work, what would you do next?

  • What qualities would expect in an employee that works for you?

  • What activities are you involved in outside the company?

  • How do you take constructive criticism?

  • Would you be able and willing to put in extra time to make sure your company or department meets an important deadline?

Possible Interview Questions-Support Positions

  • Why did you apply for this job?

  • Why should you be hired for this position?

  • What skills do you have that would be helpful in this job?

  • How would your peers describe you and what would they say about your work habits?

  • What is the best quality you would bring to this company if you were hired?

  • In what area to feel you need the most improvement?

  • What would you do if you were having trouble with another employee?

  • Why is it important to work as a team?

  • What steps would you take if you were having trouble understanding your job?

  • If on the job, you had completed all your work, what would you do next?

  • What qualities would you like to see in a boss or supervisor?

See this link to the interview scoring rubric that our interview panels will be using when you are being interviewed







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