Kent students learn the ins and outs of job interviews

If you can impress the Kent School District superintendent, you’ll probably be better prepared to impress your future employer.

  • Thursday, May 1, 2008 6:13pm
  • News

Kent Schools Superintendent Barbara Grohe

If you can impress the Kent School District superintendent, you’ll probably be better prepared to impress your future employer.

That was the logic behind a mock job interview event in David Chapman’s 10th-grade class at Kent Mountain View Academy April 24, where three guest interviewers grilled students about everything from job history to leadership skills.

In addition to district Superintendent Barbara Grohe, former Kent Mountain View Principal Dian Colasurdo and former Head Secretary Jackie Kinunen played the roles of potential employers Thursday to provide students experience and advice on the real-world hurdle of the job interview.

“These kids are probably going to have to change jobs a lot more than I did in my generation, so they’re going to have to keep these skills honed,” Chapman said. “The goal is that they’ll be really ready when they enter the job market, really prepared for the real world.”

All the students were dressed to impress and had their resumes out in front of them as each took turns being interviewed by the guests. Part of their culminating project, the students have been preparing for weeks, developing current resumes as well as imaginary resumes reflecting where they’d like to be in 10 years.

The imaginary resumes were used Thursday, and Grohe interviewed students for dream jobs ranging from head chef to electrical engineer.

After each interview, she offered individual and general advice drawn from her experience interviewing countless prospective employees.

“When somebody gives you the opportunity to tell them what your skills are, you have to be ready for that,” the superintendent said after interviewing student Sarah Vanderhoff for a chef position. “You have to know why you’re the best person for this job. If you haven’t figured that out, the interviewer won’t believe it either.”

After interviewing Lacey Clingman for a job as a pediatric nurse, Grohe had another general tip applicable to most teenagers entering the job market.

“Here’s a tip for all of you,” she said. “Take ‘like’ out of your vocabulary. Every time you think about saying it, just take a breath, because it starts filling up your sentences with nothing.”

Other tips from Grohe and the other guest interviewers included dressing appropriately for the job you want, filling answers with details rather than vague generalizations and researching the company to which you’re applying.

“These days, you can go on the Internet and learn more about a company than the interviewer probably knows,” Grohe said. “When I interview teachers or administrators, if they haven’t at least gone on the Internet and figured us out, I’ll move on.”

And Grohe even gave advice on the legal rights of an interviewee, such as the right not to answer questions about family life or religion or gender-specific employment issues.

Some of the students were nervous during their interviews, but they all seemed to take something from the experience.

“I learned that you need to be really prepared and really confident in what you’re saying,” Clingman said.

The Kent Mountain View students will continue their project by designing their own business cards and continuing to practice their interview skills, including the tips they learned from their mock interviewers, Chapman said.

Similar job-market skills activities are becoming more prominent in Kent schools, Grohe said, and she believes young people are becoming more prepared than ever for life after high school.

“We’re serious about that district mission of successfully preparing students for their future,” the superintendent said. “Our kids are being well-prepared for this next stage of life”

Contact Daniel Mooney at 253-437-6012 or dmooney@reporternewspapers.com.

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