IEP students practice interviews

photo by Sully Minnick

Few jobs are obtained without interviews; from retail jobs to company positions, first impressions are important. Both presentation and preparedness are key elements of a good first impression. These were both practiced by 65 students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) who participated in mock interviews and a fashion show.

Around 10 students in the ability-based learning program participated in the fashion show. They demonstrated types of clothes that could be worn to a job interview to other students who were planning to participate in mock interviews.

“It teaches them to give it their best shot,” said job trainer Joanne Torok. “Because you might not be able to get that shot back again after you interview.”

These students picked out their own clothes both from local stores in the area and Falcon Threads, a service that provides students with quality used clothing.

“It was just fun picking [the outfit] out and then showing it” said senior Jennifer Echevarria, who participated in both the fashion show and the mock interviews.

After the fashion show, representatives from local businesses held mock interviews with students. Afterwards, they graded them on introduction, appearance, voice, poise and resume/preparation.

“It prepares them for an actual interview,” said job trainer Arlene Silcox.

“[The interview] was good,” said Echevarria. ”But it was a little bit hard.”

Afterwards, the interviewers discussed students’ scores with them to allow for improvement. Some students took part in several interviews to improve in the categories.

“They get more feedback and feel more confident as they go through the interviewers,” said Silcox.

While some participating students were doing mock interviews for the first time, others have participated in them before. The mock interviews have been held for six years.

“[The fashion show and mock interviews] are to help the students to become successful in landing a job,” said Torok. “Since appearances are the first impression we want students to understand what that looks like.”

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