"The Story of how my business came about and how things often go full circle”
How a walk can bring your life back round in a circle.
I started my business as a direct result of a chance conversation with my friend Tracy on a Christmas walk on The Wrekin in 2010. As we chatted she mentioned in passing that she wanted her soon-to-be-graduate 3rdyear Film & TV undergrads from the University of Wolverhampton to be better prepared for the world of work.
I’d recently been made redundant so I offered to chair some mock interviews with them if she’d be interested, as it was something I was trained to do, I’ve done a lot of and that I love doing.
I thought nothing more of it until I got an email from Tracy with proposed dates and times for the sessions! I did it for no payment that first year as I thought it would look good on my CV and to keep my interviewing skills “sharp". Since then I’ve returned each year: and - what began as a useful ‘add on’ for the undergrads - is now a fully integrated part of their employability enrichment syllabus.
It’s unique in the fact that the students are interviewed in the University’s own TV studio and each of them gets to ‘walk away’ with footage of how they perform at a job interview. I also coach them as a group about how best to prepare for and perform at panel interviews.
To make it as meaningful as possible we’ve always used 'real life' jobs at the University that these students may well have an opportunity to apply for when they graduate. In fact in the first year one of my fellow panelists said they had to pinch themselves part way through to remember it wasn’t a real job interview!
For most of the students it’s the first time they’ll face a job interview panel or even an interview of any kind. Being able to do it in a ‘safe’ environment they’re familiar with is vital preparation for the ‘real world’ after they graduate. (Even if they’re more used to being behind the camera than in front of it.)
Having been through a panel interview experience once - surely the most testing part of the job-hunting process - the next time they face something similar it should feel easier, they should know more about what to expect and feel like they’re better equipped to perform at their best.
In my interactive lecture I cover: how to make a great first impression, how to guess the questions, what makes the best answers, how will these be measured by the panel and some top tips for preparation.
And I say things "go full circle" when you think that the college I graduated from is now the Walsall campus of the University of Wolverhampton. So when I arrive to chair the mock interview panels several years on from my chat with Tracy I suppose I’m “going full circle” in some ways to help those who follow me make a smoother transition to the world of work.