For the last few years, businesses and students in Forsyth County Schools have annually participated in mock job interviews. Students received sample job descriptions, and various school partners in the community helped students practice their interviewing skills.
While this traditionally occurred every Spring, Covid-19 halted this event for over 15 months.
“People always looked forward to coming into the schools, and the students took it very seriously,” said Valery Lowe, college and career development director for Forsyth County Schools. “They came in professionally dressed with their resumes in hand.”Valery Lowe, College and Career Development Director (Forsyth County Schools)
While Covid stopped the event, Valery Lowe looked for other ways to help students gain experience.
After speaking with another career director from Douglas County, she learned about Talk Hiring, an automated mock-interview tool created in 2018 by a company in New York.
“The students and teachers were happy to have something to continue some sense of normalcy with the interviews,” said Lowe. “The students were still expected to appear in professional dress, just as they did in person. But each school wove it into their schedules and did it a bit differently. Some were conducted with students at home and others while they were in school.”Valery Lowe, College and Career Development Director (Forsyth County Schools)
The interview tool records audio and video through the shared devices in the interview.
Upon log-in, students are questioned by a synthetic voice, which asks five questions randomized from a pool of hundreds.
After the interview, the recordings are given to the students and teachers to review.
“Schools love the reports we share,” said Harris Osserman, Talk Hiring’s CEO. “The feedback is on both presentation and context – pace, volume, tone, filler words, pauses, and duration. It identifies two common issues: rambling or not having enough supporting examples. And it offers tips to reflect on.”
This past spring, Forsyth students have completed over 7,000 online interviews.
“We saw a 70% improvement in performance,” Osserman said. “We nudge students to do some questions multiple times, and then we can compare the first to the last answer. That’s where we saw a big improvement.”
Valery Lowe emphasized that the current option they have now for students is just a complement to Forsyth County school district’s Career Launch, which is a program that prepares students in the job hiring process.
The program was designed through collaboration with The University of North Georgia and has 12 modules covering topics from personal branding to ethical behavior.
“Talk Hiring is a nice fit with both our Career Launch and in-person interviews, so we would like to keep it,” said Lowe. “But the students truly did miss having someone from business or industry evaluate them. Nothing can replace human interaction.”