Almont Chamber, high school partner for ‘mock interviews’

ALMONT — Being well-prepared for a job interview is particularly important to younger and first-time job seekers.

At Almont High School, staff and local employers teamed up to provide economics class students the unique opportunity to experience the interview process—but before the actual interview.

On Thursday, May 2, the high school hosted its 2nd Annual “Mock Interviews,” during which students were placed in situations consistent with an actual job interview.

Assisting with the Mock Interview program were representatives from the Almont Area Chamber of Commerce and Jennifer Kamman, a commercial recruiter for Kelly Services of Lapeer; and a host of local business owners.

Serving as program coordinator was veteran Almont High School teacher Mike Finton, who helped students establish their personal resumes and prepare for a job interview.

“Once the students had a complete resume, we worked on their interview skills, such as posture and body language, sample questions from and to the interviewer—and their attire.

Almont High School senior Rafael Farias interviews for a prospective job during Thursday’s (May 2) 2nd Annual Mock Interview program.

“I believe the students gained much more than simple interview skills,” he continued. “Many of them had not heard of some of the businesses that participated in the interviews. Having that simple awareness was an unforeseen benefit.”

Almont Chamber of Commerce Treasurer Jim Ligon said the goal of the mock interviews was to provide Almont students every possible advantage in their pursuit of employment.

Ligon said he was again impressed with the preparedness and communication skills shown by participating high school seniors.

“This year we had another extraordinary class of students,” Ligon said. “I was very impressed with how well they engaged with the interviewers.

“These kids are our future—so it was good to see that,” he said. “People of my generation were not nearly as prepared for such real-world experiences.”

Ligon made a point of acknowledging the many business owners and prospective employers who turned out on Thursday.

“We are very appreciative to them for taking time out of their busy schedules to be here,” said Ligon. “It shows how supportive this community is of our young people. I believe all of the business people felt it was well worth their time to be here.”

Chamber President Christy Yarbrough, co-owner of Yarbrough Insurance Group, was equally impressed with the turnout of businesses for the school’s 2nd annual Mock Interview program.

“We actually had more businesses participate than we did last year,” Yarbrough said. “The response was great and we heard a lot of positive feedback from people.

However, Yarbrough regretted that more people from the skilled trades were not available to interview the students.

“People in the skilled trades tend to be so busy at this time of the year,” she said. “It’s hard for them to be available to participate.

“The trades are good-paying jobs that require skills and training,” Yarbrough continued. “Our young people need to be aware of these fields and opportunities.”

Looking to next year, Yarbrough said organizers are contemplating moving the mock interviews to an earlier date to accommodate the inclusion of people in the skilled trades.

Andy Roosa, a financial planner with Edward Jones, applauded Almont Schools for placing an emphasis on providing students unique educational opportunities.

“This was our second time doing the mock interviews,” said Roosa. “It was a great year.

“Almont Schools does an outstanding job of preparing our high school seniors for their next steps,” he continued. “In a word—it’s impressive. I for one am looking forward to working with them.”

Finton said he heard similar feedback from participating students.

“Every comment I heard from the students was positive,” said Finton. “They liked the practice and even took some feedback about their resumes.

“There were a couple students that received job offers after their interviews or were invited to visit the company later for further interviews.

“I think any help our students can get to improve their chances of acquiring a job or internship is beneficial,” Finton said. “I plan to continue including these activities in my curriculum and I hope that students continue to enjoy and embrace this activity.”

Among the local businesses and organizations to take part in the Mock Interview program were American Tree, Aristo-Cast, Country Smoke House, Four County Community Foundation, Gear Master, Global Systems Engineering Group, Grabill Windows & Doors, Interpower Induction, John Yarema Bouquet of Floors, Kelly Services, Leafhollow CNC Machining, Macomb Engineering, MASTER Robotics, Merc-O-Tronic Instrument Corp., Garden Engines, Michelle Belesky State Farm Insurance, Michigan Maintenance Management, Nova Metal, Inc., Spring Dynamics, Trim Star, Trims Unlimited, LLC., Victoria USA, Inc., Vintech Industries and Yarbrough Insurance Group.