Southern High Mock Interviews Help Teens Prepare for Job Search

Southern High School is in the middle of their Mock Interviews for juniors at the school. This is where businessmen and women come into the school to interview students for jobs. It’s terrific practice for a skill set for students to learn and isn’t a part of the traditional curriculum. Unfortunately, the jobs aren’t real.

The interviews are arranged by the school’s Business and Community Advisory Board (BCAB), a group of local business leaders who volunteer to create a bridge between the community and the school.

Lee Derrick, a Southern alum, interviews Travis Jackson, a junior.

Lee Derrick, a Southern alum, interviews Travis Jackson, a junior.

BAB vice president Lynette Entzian took over the mock interview supervisory job this year and moved the interviews up to December. They were previously held in the spring.

“It was a challenge for some of the AP teachers with all they have to prepare students for in the spring. They asked, so we moved it up,” Entzian said.

The students prepare their resumes in their English class and then get a rundown on how to prepare for a job interview. They attend an assembly where they get a presentation by the BCAB on good interview skills — and a video of bad interview skills.

“We wanted them to see the Dos and Don’ts,” Derrick said.

Entzian said that for many students, this is their first interview experience.

The students are asked to dressed for success. If they don’t have the resources or wherewithal to do that, the Southern High BCAB has a clothes closet, where they can “borrow” the proper attire for the duration of the interview. From there, they sit down for the interview.

The students are judged on five things: first impression, interview details, communication style/technique, body language/eye contact and closing.

Bervis Sharps (right) and Chestera Williams write their Thank Yous.

Juniors Bervis Sharps (right) and Chestera Williams write Thank You notes to their interviewers.

The BAB members can stick to a script, or if a student has a specific job in mind, can veer off to help them tailor their interview for the job they might want.

Larry Leahy is a South County Rotarian. He has been coming to the interviews for years.

“You have an obligation as a human being to give back. And if you don’t — shame on you,” he said.

He said the best students to interview aren’t necessarily the ones with the best grades. He said that the best have a firm believe that nobody owes them anything. Leahy said that the BCAB works it out so that it’s easy to come in and interview of few students. It’s isn’t an all-day kind of thing.


Lee Derrick interviewed Travis Jackson. Derrick talked to Jackson about social media use and how it can impact an employer, who wants to know what kind of digital footprint a student might have.

“At this age, the students should be thinking, ‘I’m in school now. What happens next.’” Derrick said. “I want them to think a little bit about how things are going to change.”

Andrew Von Alt with Will Maynard.

Andrew Von Alt in his new coat and tie with Will Maynard.

Terri Nyman is a BCAB volunteer who interviewed Dakota Morris. Dakota has had interview experience, but said that she learned from Nyman to stop saying “like” all the time.

Dakota is at CAT South pursuing a career in cosmetology.

“She really knows her subject, so I told her to focus on that,” Nyman said.

Nyman said she did the mock interview at Southern 10 years ago. The biggest change she’s seen is that the students don’t seem to take as much care with their appearance. That is where Claire Pickart came in on the day we visited. She was helping students to look their best with items from the clothes closet.

“We had one guy come in. He had on a plaid shirt and was looking for a tie. We find him a nice, plain blue one, which someone helped him tie. Then he asked if he could try on a jacket, and we got him one that fit like a glove. Coach Will Maynard was here and this student was so pleased with how he looked that he asked Coach Maynard if he could keep the tie, which we easily agreed with.

Claire Pickart in the clothes closet, where students can try out a polished look for their interview.

Claire Pickart in the clothes closet, where students can try out a polished look for their interview.

“The student went out for the interview and when he came back, he said that the interview was the ‘best experience.’ He was just beaming,” Pickart said. “He asked if there was a chance that he could keep the jacket. We said yes and he just hugged himself. He was so pleased. He even asked Coach Maynard to take his photo to send to his mom.”

Pickart said it was so heartwarming to see the young man get such confidence out of doing the interview well and to walk out of the media center with a new-to-him jacket and tie.

If you’d like to participate in the Mock Interviews, email The last day of the interviews is Tuesday (Dec. 17).



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About Mitchelle Stephenson

I've gotta tell Mitchelle! Send your South County news tips, brag on your fab volunteers, talk traffic, police and fire or just say "howdy" to Mitchelle Stephenson, co-founding editor of the South River Source. or reach me in person on mobile: 410-353-4706.

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