A limp handshake and other ways to bomb a job interview: VEBC teaches students Business Cents

Dec. 24, 2011 at 6:24 a.m.
Updated Dec. 25, 2011 at 6:25 a.m.

A limp, fishy handshake. Avoiding eye contact. Oversharing transportation obstacles or money difficulties. Victoria West High schoolers learned the quickest ways to bomb a job interview.

"In an interview, you're always competing with other people - at least three. How are you going to stand out?" asked Leonardo Vitiello, manager at Port Lavaca Walmart.

Vitiello was there as part of the Victoria Business and Education Coalition's effort to prepare students for a post-high school world of work.

More than 65 VBEC volunteers give students a glimpse into five areas of know-how that will help them succeed in the job market: resume writing, business etiquette, interview skills, dressing for success and money management. The organization will visit East High School, Liberty Academy, the Career and Technical Institute and Stroman Middle School in 2012.

As manager of Walmart, Vitiello gave West High School students an insider's view on interviews. He said he interviews scores of entry-level applicants, like the ones sitting in the desks in front of him, and he knows all too well the mishaps that can result in a resume pushed to the "no" pile.

Be sure to not chew gum or answer a phone call during the meeting, Vitiello said, as these can make an employer "never want to see your face again."

Always ask interviewers for a business card, and send them a thank you card or email shortly after the interview, Vitiello said. Be polite, enthusiastic and inquisitive, he added.

But most of all, be prepared.

"It is better to be prepared and not have the opportunity than have the opportunity and not be prepared," Vitiello said, reminding students that they might not land an interview with every application, but they should prepare as if they will.

At the end of the presentation, Gianni Mays, who works for the city's human resources department, set up a role-play of two different interviews - one an example of good interview techniques, the other an example of bad ones.

Senior Tara Sparks, who participated in the role-play, said this exercise was most helpful because it highlighted the contrast between what interviewers look for in an applicant's answers and what they do not want to hear.

As for senior Brianna Vidaurri, this presentation didn't come soon enough for her last interview.

"I tried to wing it and ended up making some of the mistakes they mentioned today. I didn't get hired, unfortunately," she said.

Vidaurri said now she'll use the tips she learned on her next interview.

Meanwhile, her classmate, senior Benito Partida Jr., was already one step ahead of her.

After asking questions from his front-row seat and participating in the mock interviews, Partida was ready to hit the job market.

"Do you have a business card?" he asked Vitiello.



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