By Peter Becker

Managing Editor

HAWLEY - On April 12, about 100 to 125 students from four local high schools received valuable practice in how to get a job. "Mock interviews" were conducted by representatives of several area businesses, hosted this year by the Lackawanna College Lake Region Center in Hawley.

The Wayne County School to Work Committee has been organizing the event for over 10 years, and normally they are held at one of the participating high schools. Local businesses, Chambers of Commerce and other agencies join forces to help local teens prepare for the job market.

Wallenpaupack Area, Wayne Highlands, Western Wayne and Forest City Regional School Districts take part. Deborah Kussoff, a committee member representing Wayne Highlands, said that the students sign up voluntarily. Tenth to twelfth graders are included. Each gets three practice interviews with different employers, followed by evaluations.

Some will have received instruction at their schools before hand; for others this is their first lesson in surviving a job interview. A talk is given to each school's group of students beforehand, with tips about how to look, how to show interest, how to prepare ahead of time and what they can do about the impression they leave through social media that can affect their chances at a job.

Kussoff said that some students have even landed jobs from the mock interviews.

While at the college, they had an opportunity to pick up brochures and receive information about programs offered at Lackawanna College, Jeff Gregory, Director, noted.

Interview tips

Michael Madroski, Business Education teacher at Honesdale High School, advised the Forest City group to be careful with Facebook. Employers will do their research and will check your Facebook page. If it has a less-than-complimentary photo, you can expect to be passed over.

"Google yourself to see what's out there," said Madroski. be sure you're e-mail address is professional, as well as your cell phone voice mail message or land line answering machine.

The student can do well by researching the company ahead of the interview. Always have a question or two at the interview, and show you know something about the business or field. Leave your cell phone at home; don't take the chance and bring it to the interview where it may ring or vibrate.

Dress appropriately but remember this isn't a fashion show. An entire bottle's worth of perfume or cologne is over-kill.

Leave your wrist watch in the car. If you get nervous you don't want to be seen checking your watch.

In this day and age, less traditional interview methods are becoming more common, such as over Skype or on the phone. Kussoff advised to not have anything in the background of the room to spoil your chances, should the employer want to interview you on Skype.

Watch how you answer the phone should the employer try calling you. She reminded that the interviewer will have a stack of resumes and will just go to the next one if the way you answered the phone can rule you out.

Pace yourself and listen to the interviewer's question. Don't jump in to reply; avoid sounding like a know-it-all. Take notes. be sure you smile and sound happy.

Some interviews are done at a donut shop or other less formal setting. Watch your table manners. "They may want to see how you act," Kussoff said. "A lot of deals are made and broken at a dinner table."

At the end, send a hand-written thank you to the employer. Do this right away.

'Very worthwhile'

Dr. Clarence LaMana, NEIS #19, is highly instrumental in arranging the mock interview event.

Coming up in May, Kussoff, said, is the annual "Vehicle Day" for Middle School students from the local school districts. The students get a chance to see company trucks and other vehicles at the Wayne County Fairgrounds, and learn about various professions.

There were 27 volunteers from various companies in the area, conducting the interviews. BethAnn McCartney, Business Development & Community Liaison for Friendship House, said she was very impressed with the students. She mentioned one in particular who she interviewed last year as well, and in that time has shown remarkable improvement. McCartney said the mock interview event is very worthwhile.