Students looking to the future have drawn on a wealth of experience among former professionals in a partnership between their school and community volunteers. Members and supporters of Barnard Castle Rotary Club gave up two mornings to carry out nearly 90 interviews of pupils in year 11 at Barnard Castle School.
The partnership, which has been running for around twelve years, gives students the chance to have a half hour interview with a retired or working professional they do not know.
The mock interview is based on each student’s university or career aspirations, or for work experience or a weekend job, with the interviewer asking questions about their interests and achievements, career knowledge and expectations, and an analysis of their CV and letter of application.
Barry Proctor, who was a chemist at GSK before retiring in 1995, said: “It gives the students genuine experience of the interview process. Over the years we have seen huge improvement in how well students come prepared and have researched their chosen career.”
David Yeadon, who worked in the motor trade and export sales, organises the Rotary members and supporters, who include accountants and a retired Durham University professor of geography.
He added: “The students at Barnard Castle School are very, very good and keen to use the experience and the feedback they receive. We are never disappointed with how they perform.”
Boarder Amy Morrill, who wants to be an architect, said: “It really opened my eyes to the real world. My interviewer made me realise that architects don’t just design but also have to manage a project and a team of people, which is something I hadn’t thought of. I also got some ideas about extra things to include in my CV to give the interviewer more questions to ask me about.”
Careers adviser at Barnard Castle School Caroline Shovlin said: “The mock interviews are so valuable for the students and we are very grateful to the Rotary Club for their time and interest in the school.
“Our focus this term is on CVs and covering letters ready for these interviews. Having a one-to-one conversation with an adult who isn’t a teacher or a family member, where students learn about presentation, eye contact, body language and so on is so important and the feedback they receive not only informs applications to university and careers but also boosts their confidence.”