Does Your Kid Know How to Interview? Part 1
By Jeannette Webb
This is the time of year my appointment book is filled with seniors wanting help with their interview skills for college admissions and scholarship competitions. Thanks to Skype we sit face to face whether they are in China, California, Africa, or the Deep South. I love to hear their laughter, watch them think about a tough question, see their eyes light up as they share something important to their hearts.
Some kids are natural interviewers, while others struggle. I had one of each in my house. My daughter is an extravert who reads people well and talks easily. My son had early problems with stuttering, some neurological issues, is an intense introvert, and tends to live in his mind. Interestingly enough, both kids needed practice and both of them learned to interview very well.
Here are some tips to help your kids do a better job:
It is critical to start early with kids who struggle. I’m talking grade school kind of early. Communication skills are vitally important if a young adult is going to survive in today’s world and I realized it was going to take years to help my son be comfortable in that area. When he was eight, I started what we called Communication Club. I invited all our friends to join and each child had a monthly assignment to give a presentation, sing a song, recite a poem – something (anything) to get them up in front of people. It’s not good enough to stand up in front of mom and dad. Kids need an audience of people they might not know well, noise in the background, individuals who might get bored if they don’t do a good job. Over the course of years that we did this, our friends were very forgiving and encouraging and that’s fine. For awhile.
Up the Ante
After a student is ready, you graduate to audiences that aren’t always nice and finally to audiences that might even be hostile. I volunteered my kids to speak anywhere and everywhere we could find an opportunity – phone calls, civic groups, political groups, radio interviews, etc. My son didn’t appreciate it then, but he does now.
Take the Time to Listen
In today’s crazy busy world, few parents really sit down and have conversations with their kids. To sit and talk through issues together over a lifetime is a rare and precious gift. Parents need to be asking tough questions and expecting coherent thoughtful answers. This dialogue happened constantly at our house – cooking a meal, tending the garden, cleaning house, riding in the car, over meals. This gentle give and take forms the basis of developing vitally important communication skills. It helps children develop the self-confidence they need and forms the bedrock of values that they will carry out into the world. It is also the first real interview practice and your kids don’t even know it.
Next time we’ll talk about how to prepare for college interviews!
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