Withernsea High School

Withernsea High School

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  2. December 2023
  3. Students get set for interview success

Students get set for interview success

19 December 2023 (by admin)

Students in Year 11 have recently benefitted from a programme of events and activities designed to develop the skills and techniques required to thrive in an interview situation.

Throughout the Autumn term, the school’s Year 11 cohort have spent time creating their personal statements. These essential summaries not only allow students to convey their reasons for wanting to apply for a particular college course, apprenticeship vacancy or employment opportunity, they also form the crucial first impressions of the applicant in the eyes of the organisation. 

Helping to guide them through the process is the school’s Careers Leader, Viki Foster, who led a weekly programme of twilight sessions that provided the students with the time, resources and support needed to create effective personal statements.

Viki said: “The importance of personal statements cannot be underestimated. They provide the perfect medium for students to promote themselves to prospective employers and admissions teams, allowing them to reveal their personality through references to their hobbies, interests and what makes them unique as an individual. Personal statements can help highlight these qualities, demonstrating distinctiveness which grabs attention and sets them apart from other candidates.

“With some college and apprenticeship applications already open, and others set to follow early in the new year, now is a crucial time for our Year 11 students to focus on their futures and the skills needed to access the post-16 destinations of choice that await them from September 2024.”  

While personal statements may unlock the door to future opportunities, it is the subsequent interview process that can carry an applicant over the threshold. Helping students to prepare for this important next step in the application process was their participation in an interview skills workshop led by Sanna Saidy, Collaborative Outreach Coordinator with the Humber Outreach Programme (HOP).

As part of the government-funded Uni Connect initiative, HOP delivers impartial advice and guidance about higher and further education in schools and colleges across the Humber region. Their interview skills workshop introduces students to useful tips and techniques, with a focus on how they should successfully prepare for an interview. The session also explores the different types of interviews that are likely to be experienced, from face-to-face encounters and telephone calls, to online meetings and full-panel scenarios.  

To help illustrate the many additional elements that factor into creating a successful candidate, students explored the qualities that could shape the judgement of prospective employers. These included the importance of positive body language - with eye contact, straight posture and confident handshakes being highlighted as good examples.

Sanna said: “The work we do at HOP aims to raise aspirations in young adults across the Humber region by delivering workshops, talks and visits focused on Higher Education, be it through university or vocational routes. This work includes providing the students with the skills they require to excel in educational and professional environments.

“The session based around interview skills and body language is one of those workshops striving to equip the participants with tangible skills they can use immediately when they leave the classroom. This is one of my favourite sessions to deliver as it gives the students the opportunity to practise answering questions and the all-important firm handshake!

“It is always a pleasure working with the students at Withernsea High School. The Year 11 cohort were very engaged and actively took part in all the activities. I look forward to working with Viki Foster and everyone else in the school over the coming months.”

Three days after their interview preparation workshop, the students were given an opportunity to put their new-found skills to the test during a structured mock interview day. This event saw every Year 11 student given the opportunity to be interviewed one-on-one by a visiting employer or a representative from a further or higher education provider.

The mock interview scenario helped to evaluate how well students are prepared for the pressures of a real interview situation and provided the perfect platform to receive impartial feedback on their recently completed personal statements.

To make the experience as authentic as possible, sealed written feedback was given to students at the end of the day to help guide them with their strengths and highlight the areas that require improvement. This valuable advice will help prepare them for their interviews to access post-16 providers, as well as the world of successful employment beyond

Over 20 representatives from local employers and education providers took part in the event, helping to interview over 160 students throughout the course of the day. Each interviewer was allocated a group of students, with every student being asked five individually selected questions.

The event was a resounding success, generating positive feedback from visitors and students alike. Careers Leader, Viki Foster, said: “The main purpose of our recent focus on statement writing and interview skills was to show our students how much work goes into preparing for an interview and that it’s not all about the interview day itself.

“I was incredibly impressed with the students’ personal statements and how they conducted themselves in the interview skills session, but I was even more proud of them when I saw them step out of their comfort zones and apply everything they had learnt in their mock interviews.

“The interviews are scheduled at an important time in the academic calendar and coincide with the launch of formal interview opportunities at colleges and apprenticeship providers. The skills and experiences learnt through these in-school activities actively help our students to prepare for the real-life application processes and interview situations that they will encounter in the coming months and years ahead.

“The students showed themselves to be confident individuals who were willing to overcome their own nerves to impress our visitors. There was a real buzz around the school as the students took their interviews seriously and worked hard to show themselves at their best. They were a credit to themselves and to the school.”

Reflecting on the mock interview day from a visitor’s perspective, Danielle North, a Work Coach from Hull College, said: “This was a well-organised event, giving Year 11 students a great opportunity to practise their interview skills. The students that I interviewed were very polite and you could tell that some of them had spent time preparing and rehearsing their responses. Some were so impressive that I would even consider offering them one of our apprenticeships.”

Erin Morley, Finance Business Partner at Centrica Energy Storage, added: “Events like this are invaluable for students – providing an opportunity to get interview experiences with an external party and ask employers any questions they may have. I love being part of them and seeing potential future employees in the making – this was me (as a former student) a long time ago!”

Ellie Walkington, Project Officer at ERYC Log on Move on, said: “The students were polite and answered the interview questions well, despite some nerves! I particularly enjoyed asking students about the work experience they had done in Year 10, as often they relaxed and talked confidently and passionately about their experiences and the new skills and confidence it had given them.”

With many students having already met with representatives from local providers to put their learning into practise, interviews will continue into the new year and will take various forms including face-to-face meetings, telephone calls and, in some cases, will include online psychometric tests for access to apprenticeship and employment opportunities.


 A fun and engaging workshop led by HOP aimed to relax students and prepare them for interviews.

ABOVE: Robbie (left) and Alfie practise the all-important firm handshake. 

ABOVE: Abigail and Katie practising asking each other interview questions during the skills day. 

ABOVE: Seth is put through his paces in mock interview with Danielle Biglin from Centrica Energy Storage. 

ABOVE: The Mock Interview day saw every Year 11 student given a personal one-on-one interview with a representative from a further/higher education provider, or local employer. In the foreground is Summer being interviewed by one of the visitors. 

ABOVE: Year 11 student Emmie during her interview session.

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