I had the privilege of volunteering at St Michael’s school in North Finchley, London. The school was embarking on a new initiative to help young people practice interview techniques using a ‘fictitious’ job as a management trainee at Marks and Spencer. My role was to be the mock interviewer and I was given CVs and covering letters to review ahead of the mock interviews. An interview room was set up in a classroom, organised to make it look and feel like a realistic scenario.
Within my group of five there were differing levels of experience, but all of them were very well prepared and excited for the opportunity. It was great to be able to give honest, constructive feedback. One of the things that came to light, was that many of them hadn’t researched the company they were coming to work for. So, when I started asking questions about the company’s values, history, and culture, many of them were unprepared. This was a great learning experience for them all, as moving forward I am confident they will all do some research on the company they are interviewing for!
This was an invaluable lesson for them in presentation, rapport building, and interview techniques. We were able to give the students insightful verbal and written feedback as to why they did or didn’t get the job.
For the majority of the young people it was their first ever interview with a professional, so a fantastic opportunity to practice in a safe environment. I have just had the pleasure of reading their feedback and if you want a little flavour of what they thought about the experience, take a look at some of the feedback from the students below:
“I learnt how to approach questions that you might not be expecting in an interview and how important it is to be informed about the company before the interview”.
“This is an amazing programme for young people”.
“I have learnt the importance of a CV and Cover Letter”.
“It was a really valuable experience to gain insight into what you can expect in an interview”.
From a personal perspective I thoroughly enjoyed imparting some of my knowledge and experience on CV writing and interviewing. The volunteering opportunity was great fun and extremely rewarding and I look forward to doing it again in the near future!