The Virtual Interview Practice tool: An educator’s experience
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The start of a new school year offers a perfect opportunity to explore different ways of introducing careers education into your teaching. Here, educator and coach, Adam Brooks tell us about the LifeSkills Virtual Interview Practice tool and his tips for using this with students.
I believe programmes such as LifeSkills are crucial to opening a world of new opportunities for young people who would otherwise almost certainly have none. This is particularly the case for the work I do; I’m a project manager at a community organisation for young people, from year 4 through to university. We’re located in an area of Birmingham where more than half of children are classed as being in poverty, and most are without a parent or guardian in employment. We aim to raise their levels of aspiration through running projects to directly meet the needs of members of the local community and provide opportunities for positive change that may not ordinarily be accessible. This includes working in partnership with schools to give their students the extra support they need to break negative behavioural trends and instigate positive change.
Every week I deliver a different module from the LifeSkills curriculum to a group of young people who come in after school to talk, listen and learn, to boost their employability skills and better prepare them for the future. Of the first group I taught, almost all are doing amazing things, in part because of their involvement with the organisation. These are young people who came to the centre with no ambition or confidence, lack of self-belief, and poor time management. Whatever their area of weakness, they have all managed to drastically improve and work towards leading the lives they envisioned for themselves.
I feel lucky to be able to help change the trajectory of these young people’s lives and inspire them to look beyond their current circumstances to see where they could be, and provide a practical framework for them to achieve this.
The LifeSkills ‘Virtual interview practice tool’ is one of the key pieces of content I’ve used with my students, as it offers a valuable and realistic insight into the interview experience for young people. It’s a tool which allows students to record or write down their answers to common interview questions and develop their understanding of how the STAR model helps to structure impactful interview responses. I decided to use it with a smaller group so I could offer one-to-one support to students, but you can also use it with bigger classes. One of the best things to come out of using the tool was that students could look at some of their previous experiences, and identify skills and character traits they hadn’t considered relevant to an interview before.
Two of my students, Britanie and Chinia, were excited to try the tool. Britanie, 16, explains: “The tool showed me the transferable skills I already possessed which I could apply to the workplace, such as leadership and teamwork. It also taught me the value of preparing for the interview properly, including the importance of researching the company. I definitely felt the pressure, like being in a real interview, which gave me valuable practice.”
Chinia, 14, adds: “The tool forces you to think about what you’ve done and the skills you’ve gained. The tool can also help young people become familiar with the work environment and give them the chance to become a master of their craft.”
Before using the Virtual Interview Practice tool many of my students hadn’t considered some of the basic things they learnt at school, such as organisation, planning and timekeeping, to be transferable skills relevant to an interview situation. It has forced them to reflect on experience they previously hadn’t considered within a work context.
Adam’s advice for making the most of the Virtual Interview Practice tool
- The tool is made up of a selection of industries. Ensure you discuss what industry could be suitable for the group of young people or there is a generic question option which can be selected.
- Encourage students to use the tool in a break-out session followed by discussion, for example play question 1 and allow individuals or pairs to draft responses to the question, recording themselves if possible. There are some model answers which the tool points to at the end which could be useful to guide students to.
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