Kenya Carter is looking for an advantage in her job search when she enters the workforce in the next few years.

The 18-year-old George Washington High School senior learned interview skills during a mock interview day held at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research on Thursday morning.

“I want to build confidence in going to different job interviews in the future,” she said during an interview following a session on communication led by Cassie Jones, director of marketing and communications at Averett University.

About 175 high school students from Danville and Pittsylvania County attended AspHIRE: Mock Interview Day, where volunteers from local employers conducted 20-minute individual mock job interviews with each student to replicate a real-world hiring experience.

Students also attended work readiness sessions on time management, presentation and personal brand, resume writing, online job searches and effective communication. They also participated in a business lunch to learn and reinforce etiquette and practice conversation skills.

“We have different sessions for people to perfect their skills,” said Joyce Culley, coordinator for career and technical education for Danville Public Schools.

The event was put on by the Institute, the Dan River Region Collaborative, Danville and Pittsylvania County public schools, Southside Virginia Society for Human Resource Management and the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce.

Scott Brann, who teaches 11th- and 12th-grade auto mechanics at GW, said the mock interviews also expose students to a variety of careers available in the Dan River Region.

“The kids need to see a lot of opportunities they have here in Southside,” Brann said.

Hopefully, the mock interview day will help students achieve their goals in the future, he said.

“There are some fantastic success stories in this building we don’t know about yet,” Brann said.

The event also provides a glimpse — for businesses — of how schools are preparing students for the workforce, Culley said.

“Events like this give employers the opportunity to see what we’re doing in our classrooms,” Culley said.

Justin Owen, precision machining instructor at the Pittsylvania Career and Technical Center, said of the mock interview day: “It prepares the students for the future jobs that we’re training students for at PCTC. This is the other piece of the puzzle that increases their employability.”

The students are learning how to dress and the importance of eye contact and handshakes during interviews, he added.

Blair Foster, human resources manager at Riverside Health and Rehab, said she volunteered to conduct the 20-minute interviews because she knows how vital they are.

“I want to teach them the importance of conducting a good interview,” Foster said. “I’m glad to help the high school students prepare for the importance of interviews for future positions and to be more professional.”

Allison Moore, spokeswoman for the Institute, said this was the Institute’s first such event, but it most likely won’t be the last.

“We hope to make it annual,” Moore said.

A second mock interview day is scheduled for Monday.

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John Crane reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact him at or (434) 791-7987.

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