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  • Mrs G

Teaching the Unspoken Rules of Interviewing

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Teaching interviewing skills is a tough task. Teaching students in my special education class to transition into the workplace was daunting. There are so many social rules involved in having a successful interview. It is overwhelming to think about the unsaid rules that could be the difference between you landing the job of your dreams or being passed up for another candidate.

Teaching vocational skills, in general, is my thing (read about it here)! I love preparing my students for life beyond my classroom. But, interviewing in particular comes with its own set of challenges. And, as it turns out, I was not up for the task!

Teaching Fail!

The first time I walked a group of students through the mock interview process it was… humbling. I rallied three of my co-workers and set up an interview panel. The questions were very basic (What is your experience? What are your special skills? etc.). We rehearsed about a million times and my panel of interviewers promised to stick to the script.

When the time came, my students crumbled. They answered questions with silence and a few random stories. Or, in some cases a robotic sentence. It was one of those moments as a teacher where you sit back and take notes about your own shortcomings. You let the students teach you exactly where you failed them. Then, you go back to the drawing board.

Two Strategies

For me, this meant two things: role play and practice. First, we started including a ten-minute interview role-play a few times a week. We would start by watching an example video from YouTube. Then, I would ask the students to mimic the interviewer's questions from the video. I would practice answering the questions in my own voice and then we would reverse roles. The role reversal allowed the students to practice in front of their peers and strengthen their skill sets.

This took some time to get buy-in from all of my students, but we got there! I am happy to report that the next time we had a mock interview panel come in it was much more successful. Please note… not perfect but steps were taken in the right direction!

Resources for Teaching Interview Skills

In an effort to reinforce interviewing skills and vocational skills in general I developed a few resources. They work well in my special education groups and they may be a good fit for you too.

This interviewing reading comprehension workbook is a culmination of all of my learning about what students need to know before walking into an interview. The topics included are: Getting the Interview, Researching the Company, What to wear, Shaking Hands, Tell Me About Yourself, Why do you want to work here?, What are your strengths? What is your biggest weakness?, Do you have any questions for us?, and Saying Thank You. Like all of my Life Skills Reading Comprehension workbooks, each topic is broken into five activities to allow for easy scaffolding.

It is a small step towards teaching the things that we all “just know” or more realistically, “discovered” after a few failed attempts at having a successful interview. If you teach job skills, transition skills, or interviewing in a special education setting I would love to hear about your wins with teaching your students to interview!


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