Jobs were relatively plentiful back in the day. For some, getting a job was likely to require little more than making the decision to go for it.
These days the standards have been hoisted and the ball (in many cases) is clearly in the employers’ court. There is intense competition among applicants. Even with top grades and an outstanding resumé a job seeker can miss out if they fail to make a great impression in an interview.
Castlegar Rotarians are well aware of this and have joined in with Stanley Humphries Secondary School faculty in staging mock job interviews held last week with grade 12 students.
Preparation is key, especially if the job being interviewed for represents an important step toward a student’s chosen career.
This past week was brush-up time for about a dozen SHSS students and by the time the last handful were face to face with mock employers, it was apparent the young men and women had made the most important choice by responding to the challenge. As teacher Tracy Kuiper related, kids inclined to sign-up for this type of thing are probably high achievers to begin with.
“Most of these kids are really prepared already,” said Kuiper on Feb. 20. “Many of the students already have jobs so they’ve perhaps even gone through this process once, but this is much more formalized and they’re looking for prospective career choices so the questions are more post-secondary related. They’re doing a really good job.”
Steven Leffelaar had been slotted into an interview at relatively short notice, and demonstrated an ability to think on his feet. He said he’d been the subject in three actual job interviews and, though the first one had caused some nervousness, he’d gotten successively more comfortable with them.
From his interview with Rotarians Steven took away a number of tips, like certain questions to remember to ask the would-be employer. Steven hasn’t yet nailed down a career choice but he would like something where plenty of time is spent outdoors.
Saad Waseem was on the program to prolong his perfect interview record. He’d had one interview and was hired by Mallard’s Source for Sports. The outgoing Saad was com- fortable talking about his interview.
“For me it’s not too difficult because I’m not a very nervous person,” Waseem explained. “When it comes to answering questions, if I am stumped I’ll just take a quick breather… think it through and go from there.”
Saad was impressed by the realism of his interview.
“It was a lot more intense than one I had in 2012,” he recalled. “It felt like a real business job… it felt like I was an adult and I just finished my university education and now I’m going to a big firm. It was a very cool experience.”
Saad said the question that gave him trouble was one in which he was asked to describe his weaknesses. He told the Castlegar News one thing he’d like to improve upon in future interviews may be to get a little quicker on his responses. The personable young man has his sights set on a career in engineering.
Karen Elliott had her mock interview on Feb. 19 to go along with three previous real-life interviews. She currently works as a lifeguard with experience in Castlegar and Salmo and has also volunteered as a page at the local library, so she, like Saad, is batting 1,000.
Karen liked the way the interview included a number of questions realistically relevant to her goal of gaining a career in photo-journalism.
Karen was pleased with the way the interview had gone, but conceded there may have been room for a little more humour in her presentation.
Jacob Lunn shares an engineering ambition with Saad, and it’s no surprise the two are friends. Like Waseem, Jacob comes across as very level-headed and confident. His jobs, which include soccer referee, skiing coach and trail builder, were successfully applied for without any formal interview. He said he was fairly well prepared for the mock interview, with the exception of one line of questioning.
“The drawbacks, or weaknesses question, I had a bit of a hard time coming up with that,” said Lunn. “I had to think for a bit, but I answered the question.”
One possible drawback, pointed out by the interviewers according to Jacob, was his question relating to employee benefits as opposed to focussing what he can bring to the company should he be successful in his application.
All in all the exercise was an unqualified success and credit to the students was given, without exception, by the school’s spokesperson.
“They’re forward-seeking,” said Tracy Kuiper. “They’re on their path to post-secondary life, whether that’s post secondary education or careers, many of them are well on their way there.”