Help Students Develop Vital Interviewing Skills in Your Classroom

By Leigh Ann Whittle

Interviewing subjects isn’t just that thing HR Managers do. In fact, interviewing can be a great form of experiential learning. This is true whether students are the interviewer or the interviewee. In fact, when we encourage students to ask questions of the people they meet, we’re encouraging the development of a wide range of skills, from the social and the emotional to a basic sense of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. Honing interview schools at school will help students thrive not only in the classroom itself, but also in the job market as they interview for jobs, interview othersfor those positions, and continually ask questions as they settle into their roles. Here are a few ways to integrate the teaching of these essential, foundational skills into the classroom.

Interviewing skills image

Image via Flickr by boellstiftung

I have taught courses that emphasize skills that students will need for both conducting an interview and participating in a job interview. Observationally speaking, I have found that students who cananswer questions well are also good at asking questions.

When we think of answering questions, we think of the job interview. Job interview skills are of paramount importance to students because they will all likely go through at least one in their lifetimes. An increase in the number of college graduates has led to a saturated job market, meaning students’ interviewing skills have to be top-notch for them to compete for their dream career. But good interviewing skills don’t develop overnight. Waiting until their senior year of high school or even college to teach interviewing skills may be too late.

Being able to ask proper questions is equally important. Some students may eventually interview potential hires. When conducting a job interview, asking the right questions can help save the company time and money. How will students know the right questions to ask if they haven’t been properly taught what a good question is and how to obtain the information they seek?

Why You Should Teach Interview Skills

If the goal of education is to prepare students to become productive members of society, teaching interview skills is a critical part of that preparation. An interview exercises students’ critical thinking and communication skills, and they are required to think creatively on their feet. These are also among the traits needed to be successful in the workforce. A survey, conducted by “The Chronicle for Higher Education” and American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” found that 50 percent of employers had difficulty finding new college graduates suitable enough to work in their companies. They most desired adaptability, communication, and complex problem-solving skills, but found recent graduates woefully lacking these traits.

When it came to interviewing skills, more than 60 percent of employers said graduates were unprepared. Marketplace took its study further by staging a “mock” interview between a recent graduate and an employer. The problem with the student’s interview responses? They were not “thought out.” Students are not going to learn to create “thought-out” answers on their own; that’s why we need to help.

Teaching interview skills encourages students to talk. This is especially important for ESL students. We typically ask students to engage in writing exercises, but an ability to express oneself verbally is key to a successful interview. Interview preparation activities that emphasize public speaking can help shy students become comfortable speaking in front of others and can help ESL students practice their spoken English.

Lesson Ideas for Teaching Interview Skills

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