Written by Josée Gillette, Skills for Change staff
‘Simon’, as we called him, was a bright, talkative and positive student who came to Canada after working in different countries in Europe and the Middle East as a civil engineer. He came to Canada with his young family and, like so many individuals new to Canada, he was anxious to find a job in his field. Simon had no trouble getting interviews but unfortunately none of the interviews turned into a job offer.
Simon came to my class feeling like he was in a pressure cooker. He was frustrated, confused and worried about finding a job. Mimi, our job developer, and I were worried as well but more puzzled than anything. How could an employer not want to hire someone like Simon? He had the right skills and education, a great attitude and was well-spoken. Something was missing in the puzzle and we needed to find out… fast! After talking it over with Mimi, we thought that maybe the problem might be his interview skills. So, we decided to run a mock interview but not just with Simon but with the entire class, only we didn’t tell the class; it was a surprise.
We were surprised to see a different person during the mock interview. The outgoing and friendly Simon we had come to know and love in the classroom was replaced by a shy, reserved and quiet alter ego. The missing puzzle piece was found! With constructive feedback and follow-up practice, Simon landed his dream job just outside of Toronto. He was ecstatic and relieved. So, with flowers and chocolates in hand, he came back to celebrate the wonderful news with his class.
Simon's story is special to us. Although he may have been too pre-occupied with his mock interview performance to notice what was happening around him, his journey had caused a butterfly effect, inadvertently helping those around him. His need for a mock interview opened up an opportunity for all of his classmates to get a chance to go through one as well. By the time our session had come to a close, 80% of the class found work in their respective fields - our most successful graduating class to date.