For the past 10 years the Rotary Club of Belmont has worked with Belmont High School to undertake “Mock Job Interviews” with Year 9 students. These students usually turn 15 during Year 9 and many are looking to apply for their first job – a part time job to earn some pocket money and get some experience in the work force.
The “job” for which the students apply through the “Mock Interviews” is a part time, casual job as a sales assistant in one of five departments within a fictitious company called S-Mart – the departments are audio visual, men’s wear, ladies’ wear, sporting goods, and books and stationary. The students are asked to write a Letter of Application and a Resume, which are both presented to the “interviewer” at the interview.
The Letter is expected to indicate which department the applicant wishes to work in, what they bring to the job from their interests and experiences, and what they might offer to customers of S-Mart. The Resume is expected to say something about their background – their general progress at school and their life experiences (sporting interests, hobbies and other activities), especially as they may relate to the job being sought.
Each student is then interviewed individually by a Member of the Rotary Club of Belmont. The Rotarians – both men and women – come from a wide range of backgrounds in Business and Community Service and bring a wealth of “life experience” to the interview. About 15 Rotarians give their time over two days to interview all Year 9 students – maybe 200 students – at desks set up in the Belmont High School Library, where about 10 interviews may be underway at any one time.
The Rotarian “interviewer” is presented with the Letter and Resume by each student, and the “interviewer” asks the student about 8 questions about the job they have applied for – what skills they have for they job, and how they might deal with customers in various situations. The Rotarian discusses the Letter and Resume with the student and makes comments on areas of improvement (presentation, etc) – and indeed compliments students who have prepared good submissions. The Rotarians usually emphasise to students the importance of a good Letter and Resume as the key to getting to the next stage – an interview! The Rotarians are asked to record comments on the Question Sheet for each student, and these are given to the students later when they discuss the interview, the Rotarians’ comments, their Letter and Resume in class.
The school – senior staff, careers advisors, and previous students – have expressed their appreciation of the opportunity for each student to undergo a face-to-face interview with an older person who they do not know and to get some feedback about how they went. Hopefully this experience helps the students when they face a real job interview in the near future.
Some other Rotary Clubs deliver a similar program in other schools, but this is a program that might be spread further to help our young people make the difficult entry into the job market.
Written by Bill Hall (Rotary Club of Belmont)