Young woman at kitchen table working on laptop for National Grid virtual interview skills story

Virtual interviews help young people build skills

To offer support to young people facing an uncertain job market, we are working with City Year to deliver virtual interview sessions to help them build the skills they need to succeed.

One in four young people believe their career prospects have been damaged by the coronavirus crisis and almost half (49%) think that it will make it harder than ever for them to find a job, according to figures released by The Princes Trust.

This has led to 43% of young people saying they were experiencing increased anxiety levels about their prospects, which is why it’s vital that businesses step up to boost the skills and confidence of future job seekers.

Remote working and the lockdown have meant that many events that connect young people with businesses are impossible to host. But we understand the importance of continuing to offer support and recently participated in a virtual interview practice session with our charity partner City Year.

Young people holding letters spelling Thank You for National Grid virtual interview skills story

Building confidence

The charity works to tackle educational inequality, by recruiting 18-25-year-old mentors to take part in a year-long leadership programme with schools in London, the Midlands and Greater Manchester. The mentors provide pastoral and academic support to pupils from disadvantaged communities, to help them succeed at school.

As this year’s mentors are coming to the end of their placement, the virtual interviews are designed to help them build confidence and competence as they step into the world of work or further study.

The first Virtual Interviews Skills Day involved 27 people from across National Grid, who joined a video conference for one-to-one sessions with City Year’s young volunteer mentors. The interviewers held a competency-based interview and then offered constructive feedback on interview techniques and CV writing.

Success story

The event has already helped one of City Year’s mentors achieve her goals. Shazim’s virtual session took place just before her PGCE (teacher training) interview. She says the advice provided by the National Grid interviewers gave her confidence the boost she needed.

“I had a panel interview with two National Grid volunteers, who both contributed in different ways. One interviewer asked me competency-based questions and the other about my personal and professional growth.

“The interview helped me improve on my answers to competency-based questions and [gave me] general confidence around more personal questions. I took onboard all the advice both panellists gave me [and] I felt confident and well-prepared for my PGCE interview,” explains Shazim.

The interview helped me improve on my answers to competency-based questions and general confidence around more personal questions.

She has now received an unconditional offer to study at Manchester Metropolitan University.

A leg up the career ladder

Shazim’s experience is just one example of how confidence and competency in interviews is crucial to help young people achieve career success; whether that’s securing a first job or a place on an academic or vocational course.

“Interview skills are a really important part of finding a job. Knowing how to present yourself with confidence and highlight the expertise and enthusiasm you can bring to a role is the best way to get an offer.

“Given how tough the job market is likely to be thanks to coronavirus, I’m happy to be able to offer any useful insights or help from the many job interviews I have had over my career,” says Senior Group Content Manager, Ursula Hirschkorn, who was one of the interviewers on the day.

Making sure young people feel supported

Development Coordinator and former volunteer mentor at City Year Sarah Smith, who organised the event, said: “We need to make sure that young people feel supported throughout this difficult and particularly uncertain period. I think hosting virtual events will help them feel more confident using online platforms, which might prove especially useful in the near future.”

National Grid and City Year plan to run several more sessions in the coming months, to help young people build the skills they need for the future.