Honing their skills: PHS seniors participate in mock interviews with local professionals

PELHAM – About 275 Pelham High School seniors had an opportunity to practice their job interview skills during mock interviews on Friday, April 12.

Pelham City Schools career coach Katie Cardwell said the purpose was to help prepare students for the workforce or college. Business professionals in the greater Birmingham area volunteered their time to conduct the interviews and provide feedback to students.

The interviewers asked the students typical interview questions and at the end the students were given tips on what they need to work on.

Prior to the mock interviews Cardwell said she visited the students in class to help them prepare.

“I gave them tips on how to answer questions and I gave them an interview packet with some helpful information in it.”

Pelham City Councilwoman and Jefferson State Community College professor Mildred Lanier said she was pleased with how well the students responded to her questions.

“As a college professor, I’m so pleased with how they did,” she said. “They were well-prepared.”

At the end of her interviews, Lanier said she offered the students tips on how exude confidence and how to articulate their thoughts.

Pari Barzegari, manager of community and career development with the Shelby County Chamber, said the students she interviewed had a strong understanding of what employers are looking for in an interview.

Barzegari said she advised students find a place in the conversation to work in information about their accomplishments and strengths.

“If there’s something you’ve done that you’re really proud of, go ahead and offer up the information and extend the conversation for as long as you can,” she said. “You don’t have to wait for the interviewer to ask you about your accomplishments.”

PHS senior Matthew Rye said the mock interviews were very helpful.

“I’ve had two interviews before, but they were very laid back and kind of informal, so I’m glad that I was able to have this experience,” he said.

Rye said he was advised to try to be more relaxed.

“I have to work trying not to show my nerves as much,” he said. “I was told that it might help if I talk with my hands just a little bit to help loosen up.”

Rye said he also learned that first impressions matter a lot to employers.

“Good eye contact and manners go a long way with getting a job,” he said.

PHS senior Christian Arias, a Craft Academy student and a contender for the Shelby County Chamber’s Student of the Year award, said he thought he would be nervous during the interview, but to his surprise, it went smoothly.

Arias, who will start interviewing for jobs in the construction industry very soon, said it was nice to get some practice before the real thing.

“My interviewer said I did really well and said to keep up what I was doing,” Arias said. “It was nice to get some confirmation that I’m headed in the right direction.”

This year marked the school’s second year holding mock interviews. Cardwell thanked the professionals who volunteered to participate in the event and said she hopes the school can continue to build relationships with the community.

PHS is 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.