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Practice interviews quell sweaty palms, butterflies

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Student Amber Swigler, left, is interviewed by parent volunteer Andrea Loo during a mock job interview experience.Students in the Advanced Communication Skills classes at both Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools experienced butterflies in the stomach last week. It was Mock Interview Week, a state-mandated program that can cause some nervous reaction.

“Most of the students are freshmen; some are upperclassmen new to our district,” said Lisa Fu, a parent organizer for the program at LOHS. “Over 100 parents and community volunteers mentor our students, helping them practice their interview skills. Following two practice sessions, each student interviews one-on-one with a volunteer for a fictitious job at Jamba Juice, Club K9 Doggie Daycare, KinderCare, Dick’s or Regal Cinemas. Students are dressed up with resumes in hand!”

According to teacher Amy Meabe, every January and May, students in the ACS classes participate in the mock job interview program and learn an important life skill — how to appropriately conduct themselves during an interview with a potential employer, a college admissions officer or other adult in everyday situations.

Over the course of four days the students learn how to present a resume, give a firm handshake, make good eye contact, dress appropriately, use positive body language, respond appropriately to common questions and close an interview with a thoughtful comment or intelligent question.

The training culminates on the last day with the one-on-one interview for a fictitious part-time job.

LOHS sophomore Morgan O’Neill found the training to be helpful.

“I was very nervous at first,” she said. “But I feel a lot more confident having gone through the lessons. The interview seemed very realistic.”

“I wasn’t nervous,” said freshman Noah Vanderveer-Harris. “I have a lot of confidence to begin with.” However, he felt he could have done better in the interview. “I didn’t practice. ... I didn’t feel as prepared in the interview as I thought I was.”

Alice North, another freshman, had interviewed for a job before, but thought this training definitely helped.

“It showed what is to come,” she said. “It was good practice and felt like a real interview.”

“I was really nervous,” said freshman Emma Smith. “But the interviewer made me feel comfortable.” She said the circumstances would change depending on what type of job you were interviewing for. “A corporate business interview would have a different feeling than a restaurant.”

Following the interviews, students took time to write thank you notes to the adult volunteers who helped make the training possible and waited to hear who the interviewers chose to “hire” for the fictitious jobs.

Overall, the interviewers said the students conducted themselves well. When it came down to determining who to hire, the things that tipped the scale were presenting a resume, knowing something about the company, avoiding using slang or chewing gum during the interview. The key factor for success was practice.

“Practice makes a difference,” said parent volunteer Julie Regan. “I found myself improving, too, as I progressed through the interviews. Keep practicing — the more practiced and prepared you are, the better you’ll do.”

“The students are impressive, and I know we’ll be in really good hands,” said Rhonda Cohen, another parent volunteer.




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