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Interview preparation - the Working Well way

 

 

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Once we are in work, for most of us, interview preparation centres on researching the company we are hoping to work for and trying to anticipate what questions we'll be asked - and how to answer them in the best way. Over my time with Curo's Young Persons Service I have discovered that interview prep with young people is much more complex - and takes a lot longer to organise...

First, there's the question of what to wear. 'Have you got suitable clothes for an interview?' I ask. And then I ask to see them in the outfit they have in mind, because sometimes their idea of what is suitable is not the same as a prospective employer's! Shoes are often a problem. When you're homeless, a smart pair of leather shoes isn't really a priority item.

We've set up the Encouragement Fund so that young people can apply for up to £50 to pay for things that will help them into work - like shoes, or a smart top or trousers.

Once we've tackled the wardrobe issues, made sure everything is clean and lent them the iron to get rid of the creases, we're onto the subject of how they will get there.

Google Maps' street view is such a brilliant invention. Everyone gets nervous about job interviews, but imagine you've never had a job before - and you don't have a friend or parent to drive you to the interview.

Maybe you've never been on the bus route you need to take to get there. And you certainly can't afford to do the journey the day before just to make sure you know how long it takes.

So we go on the internet together and use route planners, walking maps and street view to travel the journey virtually and try and build up the young person's confidence that they know where they are going and how to get there.

Wheels to Work is a brilliant scheme, available to Curo residents, which can provide free bus tickets for anyone out of work travelling to interview - another obstacle dealt with.

In our fraud-conscious society, it's often vital to present ID at a job interview. Many employers now request photographic ID as standard - a passport or driving licence. Few of our clients have these - again the Encouragement Fund can now help with provisional licence applications, since the DVLA reduced the fee for first-time applications to £34.

Passports, at over £70, are often out of the question for anyone managing on benefits. By the time you've paid the postage and the application fee, they cost the equivalent of nine days' worth of Jobseeker's Allowance.

So if the young person has managed to organise all of the above in time for the interview, you might be forgiven for thinking they've earned the job already - but all that work is just to get them there.

I've just spent time with two clients preparing them for their interview questions, practising their answers, and ensuring they've done their homework on their prospective employers.

Now, like a nervous parent, I just have to sit back, cross my fingers and wait to hear how they got on. In my view they're a success just for having got this far.





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