Teaching children interview techniques from Grade 5 onwards is a skill that I have found the students value when progressing through their schooling.

We need to start offering recruitment and interview training to children from this young age to help them to prepare for their future, and in my experience as a Public Speaking Coach, they are more than capable and willing to learn how to conduct themselves in an interview. The younger they start, the more likely they are to develop the confidence they need to develop effective communication habits as they get older.

This week during the Advanced Confident Communication and Leadership Program (ACCLP) for Grades 5 and above, most of the students conducted ‘mock interviews’ for a leadership role as School Captain. This is great practice for applying for leadership positions or eventually going for job interviews in the future.

So what happened?

Before we started the interviews, I explained that when preparing for an interview of any kind, it is important to try and pre-empt what you are likely to be asked. No one can fully know what the questions will be, however, there are general questions that are rephrased in many different ways. Each interviewee was asked the following:

  1. What will make you a good Leader?
  2. What would you do for the school?
  3. How would you assist your peers?
  4. What differentiates you from the other students going for the School Captaincy role?

Questions 1, 2 and 4 are standard questions, which many schools and businesses might ask in a variety of ways for different positions, from class captain to entry-level candidates to senior management, and above. All the individual would need to do is change certain words to fit with the position for which they are applying.

Once the student had answered the questions, they were guided on how their response could be more effectively phrased, or what could be added to provide emphasis to what they intended to express.

For example, in Question 1, I suggested that talking about having completed a Confident Communication and Leadership Program (CCLP) and an ACCLP and that they can also give emphasis to the word ‘Leadership’, and talk about learning ‘conflict resolution’ skills. In Question 4, they could reiterate their answer to question 1. This would be beneficial in promoting them for a Leadership role.

Interestingly, not one interviewee mentioned that they had completed and are completing the CCLP and ACCLP, though many informed me that they had intended to. This indicates how we perform under pressure, and at times we need to take a deep breath and smile before paraphrasing the question back to the interviewer to buy time to organise our thoughts before answering.

When I asked a Grade 6 student how she found the process of being interviewed, she answered,

I understand more about interviews now, and learned a lot about how to respond to questions in a short period of time.

The children used their previously learned types of speech delivery during the ‘Interview’ where they better understood how the ‘Persuasive’ and ‘Informative’ speaking techniques could be put to better use.

We need to start teaching other important life-skills to children, ones that will help them with their ability to communicate confidently later in life.

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