One of the best parts about being a CTE educator is that you know the skills you’re teaching will be used after high school and college. However, preparing students with technology skills is only one piece of the puzzle. Communication skills, interpersonal development, and social skills are so crucial to future academic and career success.
We think that Stephen Wang said it best, “No matter what job you have in life, your success will be determined 5% by your academic credentials, 15% by your professional experiences, and 80% by your communication skills.” But what can you do to help students develop these communication skills?
Thanks to fantastic Tennessee educator, Linda Williams, we have some great advice: Conduct mock interviews in your classroom! Most students will have little to no exposure to a professional interview setting and will likely not be sure how to behave. Giving them a chance to practice in a low stress setting in class will empower them in their future job searches. Linda gave us some fantastic tips on how you can get started conducting these interviews in your classroom.
- Invite professionals from your community: Whether you teach in a big city or small town, you likely have a variety of local businesses that are happy to help the younger generation. Reach out to a few contacts and ask them to come in for a day and interview your students, just like they would someone looking to get hired at their company. Linda mentioned how easy this has become through the years. “It’s definitely spread by word of mouth. I had a few connections at a local company, but more and more hear about it every year. They’re anxious to participate.”
- Prepare students ahead of time: There are many steps to prepare for a job, so it’s important to walk students through this process.
- First, make sure they know who they’ll be meeting and what job they’ll be “interviewing” for. This will help your students feel more at ease and allow them to prepare insightful questions and experiences to share.
- Second, Linda helps her students create their own resumes and cover letters. While students might not have a lot of experience, they can use a resume to emphasize their certifications, educational backgrounds, and service in the community.
- Third, provide students with a list of sample questions that interviewers may ask. No one likes to be put on the spot and having a list beforehand will give students a chance to reflect on experiences that they can share.
- Give additional requirements for older or more advanced classes: If you’re working with an older class, feel free to bump up the level of difficulty. One-on-one interviews are more common, but are your students ready for a panel interview? The additional complexity will give students an extra challenge. Help them remember to speak to all parties, acknowledge all the interviewers, and be cognizant of the group, rather than just talking to the questioner.
- Make it a fun competition: This piece is totally optional and will depend on the dynamics of your class. If your students thrive with competition, let them know about potential prizes. Maybe the top student who is “hired” by the most interviewers gets extra credit. Again, don’t make this a pressure-inducing situation. Keep it light.
- Help students follow through: If you plan to repeat this activity every year (or even, every semester), you want to make sure to thank your interviewers. What better way to do that than with a handwritten note from your students? After all, taking that extra step to communicate gratitude can speak volumes to a potential employer. If your students aren’t thank you note experts, give them the simple “thank you plus one” formula. They will communicate their thanks, but also cite a specific reason for their gratitude. For example, “Thank you so much for coming to our class. I really appreciated you sharing your story from your own college internship. I can’t wait to have a similar experience some day.” The “thank you plus one” formula shows the interviewer that the student truly paid attention and valued the interaction. Maybe that mock interview can even become a real job offer.
Looking for other ways to empower your students with professional communication skills? Check out our Communication Skills for Business certification! Learn more at www.certiport.com/csb.