As part of our company CSR commitment, we recently sent a ‘crack’ team to help the Blackwater Countryside volunteers with some scrub clearance at Moor Green Lakes in Berkshire. This is our second year helping them out and the team were blessed with a mild and sunny day for their hard labour.
Apart from the benefit to the Countryside Ranger, Stuart, who has extra pairs of hands to get more done on each session, we also benefit from a day away from the office and the opportunity to feel the sun on our faces, use power tools and ‘burn stuff’ in addition to communing with nature and working alongside our local community. All in all, a great tonic to blow the cobwebs away and escape the pressures of recruitment for a day.
It is also important to us that we do something which is related to our industry and where we can hopefully use our experience in recruitment to good effect so over the past two years we have been involved as panel members conducting mock interviews for 6th formers at a local school.
Last month I attended the first of this year’s events which involved interviewing students who were applying for Oxbridge or Medical degrees. Consequently, I was lucky to meet 4 incredibly bright young people who had achieved high grades at GCSE and were hoping to do the same at A-level. My fellow panel members were a fascinating pair, both scientists and so well equipped to put the prospective medics through their paces. Last night was the second session where we interviewed students who are less certain about their future career path (like most of us!). This presented different challenges but was equally rewarding.
I always have mixed feelings about these events. They are on the one hand inspiring and rewarding and on the other slightly disconcerting when you realise that it seems only yesterday that you were going through the same process! And now, with my humble French degree a distant memory, I can only speculate about what lies ahead for these talented students.
What the evenings did reinforce is the importance of knowing how to present yourself at interview. This is as relevant to these young people as it is for those of us who are established in our careers.
However well qualified you are and however fantastic your experience, if you can’t get this across to your audience, you will lose out to those who can. This is not just about knowing your experience inside out and being able to back it up with hard facts and figures. It is also about how you come across – if you are able to demonstrate deep interest and passion for your subject and a warmth of style that enables the interviewer to picture themselves working with you, then that is worth just as much.
All the students we interviewed had exceptional academic potential however each had differing levels of impact at interview, understandably so, given this was their first attempt! As the interview panel, we were able to give them some advice about what they can do to improve. Interviewing is definitely a skill which can be learnt and this was the message we tried to get across to them. With practice, they can make sure that they are articulating all their potential effectively to prospective universities and employers.
If you get the chance to be involved in a similar initiative, I strongly recommend it. As is often the case with CSR activities, I got just as much out of it as the students hopefully did.
For more information about volunteering for similar activities, a good starting point is the Inspiring the Future campaign www.inspiringthefuture.org. Inspiring the Future is a free service across England with volunteers from all sectors and professions going into state secondary schools and colleges to talk about their jobs and sectors. Anyone can volunteer with Inspiring the Future – you can be a young apprentice, a graduate recruit or a seasoned Chief Executive – young people will benefit from hearing about your experiences. You offer to visit a local state school or college for ‘one hour, once a year’ and can sign up online. It is a new initiative which is supported by industry and educational bodies and the Government.
If you know of any local schools or colleges who need extra support with coaching students with CV preparation or interview skills, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected]. We may be able to help…