Your hands are shaking and your palms are sweaty as you rehearse for the hundredth time what you will say when you step into the small meeting room. You are surrounded by successful men and women who are well-groomed and dressed in black suits.

You fidget to straighten your skirt, flatten your stray hairs and take a deep breath as they call your name. You stand tall and respond with confidence, because this isn’t just any job you are interviewing for, it’s your dream job.

Copperas Cove Junior High School Career Connect students listened intently as Communities in Schools representative Stacy Bradley provided tips and tricks for a successful interview. The eighth-grade students learned how to properly dress, important things to say and what types of questions to ask to stand out above the other applicants at a job interview.

After the lesson, the students participated in mock interviews with community members where they practiced the skills they learned.

“I participated to help students learn how to interview in the real world,” said Bebbie McKelvy, one of the mock interviewers. “It teaches them what is needed to go into a real interview.”

During the interviews, Lane Paan and eight other students were asked questions including “What are your strengths?,” “What can you offer us that someone else cannot?,” “Would you work holidays/weekends?,” and “How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?”

At the end of the interviews, the students were asked if they had any questions for the interviewers.

“I feel like I did fine,” Paan said. “But next time, I would make sure to ask the interviewer more questions.”

Each interviewer was provided a score sheet to rate the students during the interview and to offer helpful suggestions. The scholars were graded on their presentation, preparation, verbal communication, and nonverbal communication.

They were assessed on their grooming, eye contact, knowledge and expectations of the job, how well they spoke and use of complete sentences, and their confidence.

“The best thing is, at the end of the interview, they are able to critique what they did well and what they can work on,” Bradley said.

The lesson was used as a tool to help students prepare for their future careers and to help them gain the confidence they need to successfully interview and eventually get their dream jobs.

“As you walk out of the meeting room with a smile on your face, you shake the interviewer’s hand and confidently walk out of the building,” Bradley told the students. “You know your interview went well and that your hard work has finally paid off.”

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