The Human Resources Manager at the Harrisburg Walmart was the first to detect a problem with the local pool of job applicants. The discount giant's Harrisburg store was not getting good applicants.
The adults and the students alike didn't know how to behave during interviews.
They didn't dress appropriately and they needed some guidance concerning their interview behavior. Kathy Hyers, HR manager for the Harrisburg store, said, "I think we should reach out to the schools and help them learn what they needed to be successful in interviews. They will be interviewing for college and other jobs and they definitely need the guidance."
So the management team at the local Walmart store contacted the high school and a class was arranged for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 in the small gym. All seniors were required to attend.
Store General Manager Rhonda Bottoms introduced the students to the subject of proper interview behaviors starting with dressing for success and then moving on to advising how to field the kind of questions students would likely be asked by interviewers.
She cautioned them to be aware of their body language. Slumping is frowned on.
"They have to go through three different interviews with us before they are hired.
Even when they get to the third interview some candidates still blow it," she said.
"We use an employment computer. When we open a position we can have from 15 to 60 applicants depending on the position. It is competitive and these kids need to know they are competing."
She gave examples of the types of questions they will face. The first was, "Give me an example of how you solved a recent problem at school or at work."
"When answering questions about things you have done, always choose a positive example that shows your strengths," she said.
Bottoms stressed the importance of eye contact when speaking.
She said evaluations would read something like this, "Subject made good eye contact and used gestures in communicating his message."
Bottoms said, "When I applied for the store manager position there were 100 applicants and even though I worked for Walmart for years, I had to interview. But I won."
She told the students, "When I started at Walmart we didn't have today's technology. When I came into work today I had 175 emails waiting for me. Sometimes it's 300."
She said the store requires three interviews before it hires someone, the second interview being before a panel of three people which can intimidate those unprepared.
She told the students, "You will all have to interview if you go on to college. You can prepare for that.
"This is not all about Walmart. You will use these skill for any job application."
Page 2 of 2 - After the class ended HR Manager Kathy Hyers said, "They don't teach interviewing in the schools any more."
Bottoms said the idea for Wednesday's class came from Hyers and she was very grateful to Assistant Principal Randy Smithpeters for making it happen.