ANDOVER — Nervous for a job interview? Pymatuning Valley High School helps its students face these fears by hosting a community involved mock interview each semester. The interviews are organized in conjunction with a Life Planning class taught by Andrea Wonderling which is required in order for students to graduate. The goals of the class are to prepare students for their future through career research, job shadowing and college exploration.
Each semester students in the Life Planning class are required to participate in a mock interview. In preparation for the interview students learn about networking, finding ads for jobs and the appropriate dress. Students also have to prepare a resume and job application. The interviews normally last anywhere from five to seven minutes and involve miscellaneous standard interview questions. During the mock interview, the volunteers who are community leaders and actual potential employers from local businesses expect to see the students introduce themselves, provide valuable information about themselves such as special interests or skills, dress well, speak clearly and have good responses to the questions presented.
Principal Dan Jackson has played the role as the interviewer and asks questions such as why the student is seeking the job, how the job relates to the candidates’ life desires, and personal characteristics including strengths and weaknesses. Last year interviewers included Don Vinroe of H&H Enterprises, Anne Starcher and Kay Roller from Ashtabula County Education Service Center, David Jones from Seeley Medical, Susan Hill from Andover Public Library, Paula Raffenaud from Ashtabula County Job Source, Edwina Payne from Realty Net, and Mike Candela and Dan Jackson from Pymatuning Valley Schools.
Interviewers change nearly every semester and even sometimes from morning to afternoon; however it is often local business owners, retired educators, principals, superintendents and representatives from the vocational schools who volunteer their time for this great opportunity to benefit the students.
Jackson said he appreciates the outside involvement with the interviews because he feels it benefits the students and, in the long term, the community. In the very immediate – students are given feedback on their work. After the interview is completed, the interviewers present the students with an evaluation sheet including many tips and valuable feedback for them to apply in “real life” interviews.
That is just the point that Pymatuning Valley Schools superintendent Mike Candela believes makes the process so valuable. He feels strongly that the interviews benefit the students by preparing them for real-life situations in a low pressure environment. Candela said he enjoys the seriousness and the dedication that the students show during his interviews because this shows their desire for success.
Students also value the feedback and advice given from their interviewers to help solidify their future interview techniques. Students, however, are not the only ones who benefit from the experience. Jackson said he uses his time being an interviewer to get to know his students and their interests outside of school, along with learning what motivates them to be successful.
Wonderling said she enjoys seeing the students’ reflection afterwards as they realize that they really can do it and that it is not as bad as they first thought it would be. The coordination of so many students, volunteers and schedules is a tremendous challenge, but one she thinks is so very worth it for everyone involved. Finding volunteers can be difficult, so Wonderling welcomes volunteers from the entire county to this event and is able to be reached at Andrea. Wonderling@neomin.org.
For the fall semester students, the interviews are approaching and will take place just after the end of the Christmas break on Jan. 8. This is a valuable opportunity that has been in place for nearly 20 years at PV and hopefully many more to come.