Practice makes perfect
Clinton High seniors practice interview skills in workshop in preparation for college, careers
by Lauren Williams Staff Writer
Clinton High School seniors found out just how prepared they are to meet with interviewers and answer the myriad questions that can be thrown their way during a mock interview workshop held Monday afternoon with school and community partners.
The workshop, organized by Toni Blount, the Dark Horses’ college adviser/scholars coordinator, brought together around 15 students and numerous leaders in the school and community to practice and perfect a variety of interview and social skills.
“The purpose of the interview workshop is to offer the students an opportunity to practice interview questions and strategies with school and community partners before they are challenged to interact with college interview teams for scholarships or admissions or for potential honors programs or college leadership opportunities,” explained Blount. “It also serves as an opportunity for our community partners to hear directly from students their challenges, successes, and dreams. The workshop will also open doors for networking possibilities with adult leaders in the Clinton-Sampson community.”
“It’s a good opportunity to help the kids get prepared for real life interviews,” noted Kristy Moore, Clinton City Schools CDC. “Interviews aren’t my favorite either so this will actually help everybody.”
“I think it’s important for children to get experience with interviews before they get out there,” added Gayle Jordan with Sampson-Bladen Oil Company. “I see so much (in my job) that it’s important that we teach them how to interview, that their appearance matters, and let them know what companies are looking for.”
Other school and community partners that participated in the interview workshop and offered their help and advice to students were Melissa Bass with Star Communications, Janna Bass with the Clinton-Sampson Chamber of Commerce, Christy Bullard with Clinton High as the media specialist and Miss CHS Pageant adviser, Sarah Burton with Clinton High as a drama teacher, Phyllis Dunn with Schindler Elevator Corporation, Bill Fulton with Hog Slat, Michael Gilpin with Sampson Regional Medical Center, Dr. Steven Miller with Clinton High as principal, Warren Perry with Prestage Farms, and Frankie Sutter with Sampson Community College.
To kick off the workshop, the participating partners formed a reception line in the library for students to come through as an exercise in social skills like making introductions and shaking hands.
Interviews followed with students meeting with six interviewers for approximately four minutes each. Interviewers asked students questions like, “Describe your community, family, and school” as well as inquired about each student’s likes, dislikes, future plans, colleges they are considering, majors they are interested in, careers they would like to pursue, their high school experience, and their extracurricular activities.
After students responded to the interviewers’ questions, interviewers then gave feedback on what students did well and what they need to improve on for future interviews.
After completing the interviews, the students and the community and school partners gathered to discuss the experience.
“They were very poised and feel very supported,” said Burton, impressed with the students.
“They really had the courage of their convictions about them,” Dunn added, noting that most didn’t have to stop and think about how they were going to respond because they already knew and believed in their answers.
Gibson praised the students for their “detailed answers” and for letting their “passion for their school and community” come through in the interviews, while Jordan pointed out how confident the students seemed and how all maintained good eye contact.
Before concluding, Miller expressed his gratitude for both the students and the participating partners who took the time to be a part of the workshop.
“I’m so lucky,” he shared. “It’s wonderful to be with community people and young people who are our next generation.”
“Everyone of you brought heart, conviction, and successful futures to the table,” he told his students, advising them to remember that wherever they go in life they didn’t get there alone. “Some of you are talented beyond imagination and some have to work a little harder, but no matter what, remember that you’re a part of the team that got you here…I’m glad to get to be a part of that team.”
With the workshop behind them and with their nerves calmed, many of the students reflected on the workshop experience and how it will benefit them as they move forward in life.
“I was very nervous but when I got into it I got comfortable and very confident,” shared Ebony Pinkard. “This has been really helpful because interviews are something I haven’t done much.”
“It was a great experience to have, to learn how to communicate. It’s great preparation for real interviews,” added Ana Jaramillo.
Fellow senior Katelyn O’Neal noted that the practice is “going to help me with my everyday speaking” as well as in other things she enjoys such as pageants.
“It was really good,” Mikiela Ashley said of the workshop afterwards. “I’m so glad I got the opportunity. All the interviewers were really nice and gave good feedback which I’m going to apply to my future interviews.”
“It was excellent,” agreed Christian Noland. “It’s very beneficial and you don’t get very many opportunities like this. It’s a safe way to practice and get feedback.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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