All young people will need to be able to confidently face interviews well before completing secondary school. Many will have an interview as part of the tertiary selection process for some courses. Fortunately, a growing number of tertiary institutions and employers are recognizing that marks alone are not a reliable indication of the full potential of applicants.
Students can start preparing for interviews well ahead so that they perform well. Preparation and the right information are the keys to success.
Secondary students may face an interview when applying for all or some of the following:
- a part-time job
- a leadership position at school
- a work experience placement
- a tertiary course
- a scholarship for university
- an apprenticeship
- a pre-apprenticeship at a TAFE institution
How can students prepare for these important interviews?
The best advice is for students to take up every opportunity to develop greater self-confidence by putting themselves in situations where they need to hold a conversation with new people, particularly adults. Here are a few practical ways students can gain confidence, greater conversational ability as well as life experience that will help them do well at interviews.
School Leadership Opportunities
Students should consider putting themselves forward for school leadership positions. With each interview, students generally become less nervous. If students keep reminding themselves that they are well prepared, they will find it easier to settle into the interview and be more relaxed. Students who have never had an interview prior to an all-important interview, are not as relaxed as those who have been for other interviews at school.
Volunteering Opportunities at School
Students should consider volunteering to take visitors on tours of their school during Open Days or parent information evenings. This is good experience chatting to new people and answering questions off the cuff.
Students should apply for part-time jobs as early as possible. Delivering leaflets and promotional material or helping out in a local shops are all great experience. Students who are too young to gain formal part-time employment with businesses can always begin by helping neighbors. Offering to do gardening, feed pets and water gardens while neighbors are on holiday will help young people develop greater self-esteem, organizational ability and other important skills.
Joining a club in or out of school almost always increases a young person’s self-confidence and ability to communicate well with others.
Leadership Positions in Clubs
Applying to be a leader in a school club or outside club is a wonderful opportunity to taste taking on responsibility and developing leadership skills and greater self-confidence when relating to new people. Often these positions are not as difficult to land as more formal school leadership positions. Being a member of a committee in or out of school is also an excellent way for young people to gain life skills and develop the self-confidence required to speak up in interviews.
Participation in sport, music or any other interest area in and out of school brings young people in contact with others and helps them develop a range of interpersonal skills such as good communication ability, the ability to compromise and socialize positively with others.
Responsibility at Home
Parents can help teenagers by allowing them to share responsibility for organizing a family holiday or purchasing a new item for the family. When a young person is asked to make a formal phone call or approach a shop attendant in person to ask about a particular item, this is good experience in being able to communicate in a fairly formal manner. Parents can also give their teenagers tasks for which they are responsible. These may be simple tasks but ones which affect the whole family.
On family holidays, ask your teenager to approach people and ask for directions. Ask your teenager to enquire at tourist information centres about the local restaurants and must-see attractions. The more frequently teenagers engage in interactions like this, the less nervous they will be when an interview looms.
Advice from Parents
Parents can also speak to their teenagers about how to conduct themselves well in a formal interview. Talk about the importance of arriving on time, doing a lot of pre-thinking about questions that may be asked, knowing how to sit up and not fidget and remembering to thank the interviewer and shake hands at the conclusion of the interview. All of this seems second nature to most adults but is a daunting prospect for teenagers unless they actively think about what to expect in interviews and put themselves in situations where they have to speak to adults they do not know well.
Every time there is an opportunity for teenagers to speak to adults and unknown same-age peers, they gain greater confidence and will worry less about future interviews. Every time teenagers approach someone for a part-time job, they become more at ease and gain better social skills.
Another advantage of part-time work and participation in a wide range of activities is that teenagers then have fantastic evidence of their leadership ability and ability to work in a team. All of this looks great on a Resume too.