UNCG Speaking Center partners with IRC’s Job Skills class

Posted on September 26, 2012

reposted from the Greensboro Voice, the Interactive Resource Center’s street newspaper

Your smile is worth a million dollars, or in this case, a job that provides financial security. No matter how dressed-up you are, no matter how well rehearsed your answers are, if you enter a job interview slouching with a scowl on your face, no one will want to hire you. All you have to do is monitor your posture, handshake, eye contact, smile, all while answering questions like, “Why should I hire you?” Easy fix, right? Wrong.

Think back to when you learned how to ride a bicycle. You didn’t just hop on and go. You had to concentrate on balancing, steering and pedaling all at once, and probably skinned your knees along the way. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and eventually, you were able to ride without thinking about it.

Interviews are the same. If you go into an interview without any practice, you’re bound to mess up and come out with some skinned knees. With practice, you will not have to worry so much about giving a firm handshake, having good posture and making eye contact because those details will all be second nature to you.

This summer, students from The University Speaking Center at UNCG served as volunteer consultants at the Interactive Resource Center (IRC). They helped guests improve their interviewing skills by partnering with the day shelter’s Job Skills course. People preparing for job interviews practiced their entire interview, starting with walking through the door and saying, “Hello.” The consultants recorded the mock interviews with a small camera and took notes on what they observed. The interviewees then watched the recording to see how well they did. Next, they discussed the performance with the consultants and fellow job skills classmates.

“Instead of focusing on the content, we focus more on nonverbal communication, which can show prospective employers the true characteristics of the interviewee,” said Andria Williamson, a consultant from the Speaking Center.
Natalie Jones, a consultant, has seen progress in participants during this program.

“One of our interviewees came by to practice for a second time shortly before her actual interview, and I could tell that she was proud of herself and way more confident,” Jones said. “Seeing her showed that we are really helping people.”
This encourages the consultants because the structure of this program has been a learning process for the team.
“Often times, we try doing things we’ve never done, and if the result isn’t what we consider perfect, we tend to only focus on the negative,” Williamson said. “But once the IRC speakers saw their strengths and saw that others noticed too, they were inspired to work on the areas for continued improvement.”

These are life-changing moments, when people come in with expectations for themselves and leave with a new, positive mindset. The Speaking Center has committed volunteers to continue this partnership during the next academic year.

“If we can help with their sense of confidence, everything that follows will fall right into place,” Williamson said.

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