Byline: KANDACE LANKFORD
YULEE - Alyssa Leslie, a Yulee High School senior, learned she would win points from a prospective employer for her steady work history and relaxed, confident demeanor during an interview.
But she also learned that she needs to strengthen her answers to questions about leadership skills.
Leslie and about 40 other YHS students gained real-world insight as they participated recently in mock interviews where they practiced their interviewing techniques and received assessments from local business professionals.
The students - who are enrolled in Diversified Career Technologies, a program that balances vocational guidance, practical work experience and general academic class work - prepared for the interviews by creating resumes, filling out applications, practicing handshakes, and rehearsing answers to interview questions.
"I've always incorporated career activities in my classes, and as we started talking about interviews, I found that a lot of the students hadn't gone through a formal interview process," said Julie Brown, who teaches business and computer courses and facilitates the DCT program. "I wanted them to see that job interviewing is competitive, and I wanted them to have a taste of having to sell themselves and share a resume."
As students gathered in the school's media center and waited their turn for an interview, there was lots of foot-swinging and finger-tapping - telltale signs of pre-interview jitters. While they thumbed through the pages of their class notebooks for a last-minute review, Brown stopped at each table to offer encouragement.
Leslie, who began the DCT program this year, glanced at her notes, but said she felt confident and well-prepared for her mock interview.
"We've been going over interview questions and answers for a while, and we've been working on our resumes for about a month," she said. "I'm not nervous at all about my interview."
Leslie's classmate, Stephanie Green, was dressed for success in a black suit with pink piping, but said she didn't feel as confident as she looked.
"I don't do well with interviews," Green said. "I hope this experience will help me build my confidence and not be so nervous."
Both Leslie and Green had successful interviews, and each of them took something valuable away from the experience. …