PHS seniors participate in mock interviews

PELHAM – More than 200 Pelham High School seniors participated in mock interviews with professionals based in the greater Birmingham area on Thursday, April 26.

Pelham City Schools career coach Katie Cardwell said the purpose was to help prepare students for the workforce or college.

“The interviewers asked them typical interview questions and at the end of the interview the students were given tips on what they need to work on,” Cardwell said. “I’ve been telling our students that it’s better to mess up now than at an actual interview.”

Senior Jake Gremek, who is set to study finance at Spring Hill College in Mobile, said he took away from the experience the importance of taking the initiative to shake the interviewer’s hand and introduce himself.

“It was helpful because we’ll most likely have to do this multiple times throughout college and in life,” he said.

Senior Gracyn LeSueur said the process gave her a glimpse of what the future looks like.

“It helps us learn how to present ourselves in the best possible way,” said LeSueur, who plans to study biomedical engineering at Mississippi State University in the fall. “I like that they made this experience as real as possible and that they’re not trying to shelter us.”

After their interviews, each of the students wrote handwritten ‘thank you’ letters to the person who interviewed them.

Pelham Police Capt. Pat Cheatwood said having the opportunity to interview the students was a great experience.

“I asked the typical questions, but I also threw some curve balls at them to see if they could answer questions on the fly,” Cheatwood said. “I also asked them questions that we sometimes ask our officers in training. I was looking for them to stay positive, smile and have good posture, and they all did a great job.”

Cheatwood said the experience was encouraging to him.

“These students really give me hope,” he said. “The students I talked to were good communicators and I think future of our workforce looks bright.”

Rita Stewart-Hampton, career center director for UAB’s Collat School of Business, said it was refreshing to see students in high school preparing for the next level.

“It helps us as students transition into college if they already know how to prepare for an interview,” she said. “In college, they will have to interview for different experiences, leadership opportunities and internships, and they will need these experiencee to be able to launch their careers.”

Stewart-Hampton said mock interviews also give her a chance to see the type of students that will transition into the college arena very soon.

“It gives me an idea of what to expect, so we appreciate the opportunity to participate,” she said.

Interviewer Bram Fuller, utility contractor with USIC, said the students he spoke with were intelligent and impressive young adults.

“Most of the students I interviewed were direct and well-prepared for the process of interviewing,” he said.

But one tip he gave students was to be prepared with questions for the interviewer.

“I like to see applicants being proactive during an interview,” he said. “Do your research and come prepared with some questions to ask me as well.”

PHS Principal Amanda Wilbanks said this year was the school’s first time conducting mock interviews.

“This was a chance for our students to come out of the classroom and apply those skills that they’ve been learning,” Wilbanks said. “Hopefully this experience took away some of the fear of interviewing for them.

“We’re so thankful for the professionals in our community who took the time to help out with this. We hope we can continue to build this relationship with the community. We’re always searching for professionals to guest speak, to offer their workplace for a field trip, internship opportunities or job shadowing.”

Professionals interested in partnering with PHS to offer opportunities to students should contact Cardwell at Kcardwell@pelhamcityschools.org.