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The Webber Edge, It really does make a huge difference Post-16!

Posted: 7th February 2024

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Over the last 4 weeks, I have been spending rather a lot of time with our lovely Year 11 students at lunchtimes, in their non-contact study time, and on Google Meet at 9 am on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Who knew teenagers could get out of bed that early at the weekend?

The reason for this additional one-to-one time is to get them prepped, confident, and ready for the start of the Post-16 Destination of Choice Interview Season which is now in full swing. All our Year 11 will be called to interview at a range of destinations from College to Grammar Schools, from Sixth Forms to New Apprenticeship placements.

Typically our students will attend 3 to 4 Post-16 interviews which may be online, face-to-face, individual, or group formats ranging from 8-30 minutes. They have to be prepared and ready to shine no matter what questions the interview panel fires at them.

We started with a PSHCE Interview Masterclass where we shared and discussed the Top 10 Interview Questions, discussed how these can be adapted, what each student can do to ‘craft their unique story’, and what makes them stand out from other 16-year-olds. We practiced a good handshake, appropriate body language, confident smile, and good eye contact as well as looking at the language, tone, and register they should be using. (Including eliminating the dreaded ‘LIKE’!) 

Together we discussed each individual student’s USPs ( Unique Selling Points) and what skills and competencies they can demonstrate. Using Marketing terminology helps the students to think about how they can be confident about their skills and abilities rather than being boastful and arrogant.

Starting with their Digital Portfolio, which every student from Year 6 -Year 11 updates each term, they consider what leadership they have demonstrated, how they have been involved in the life of Webber, and how they have participated in and served their wider communities. 

They evidence their Work Related Learning opportunities, Work Experience, and planned Internships. We encourage them to study the Open University short free courses ( Open Learn)  in their areas of Post-16 study which sets them apart from most 16-year-olds and evidences their commitment to their area of interest or potential career pathway to success.

We consider their talents, passions, hobbies, and quirky and perhaps memorable interests. I am truly amazed at what a talented and committed cohort of young people our Year 11 are and how much they have packed into their Webber Experience making the very most of all the varied opportunities afforded to them. They have also been really proactive in seeking opportunities through local businesses, charities, and faith-based groups.

They learn some helpful tricks like the ‘Golden Question’, where they can double back and add a little bit more about a key USP they may not have been asked about directly by the interviewer.

They have done their homework: research online, read the website, follow the social feeds, and attend the Open Evenings ( taking note of which staff they spoke with and which students toured them). This is all woven into the interview responses to help to demonstrate they are committed and engaged.

We record the first interview, it’s always terrible and just has to be done and out of the way! They get detailed feedback, they go and practice at home with their parents (Parents are encouraged to sit in on the interviews so they have a feel for the questions and format) and then we go again and again and again until they are smooth, confident and can tackle any challenging question from any angle in any order.

In just a few days and with a bit of intensive practice the Year 11 students learn to maximise the interview opportunity to showcase themselves at their Webber Best so they really do stand out at interviews.

In a very competitive landscape for Grammar, State, College, and Apprenticeship places, where there can be up to 400 applicants for 50 places, spending this extra time one-on-one with our students really is worth the time invested as it results in lots of place offers prior to the Year 11s starting their GCSE Examinations.

Interview technique is a vital life skill that needs to be taught, learned, practiced, and honed as young people mature into adults moving into the world of work.

Nobody shared these ‘secrets’ with me and that’s why I am passionate about passing these on to our Webber movers, disruptors, innovators, creators, and future game changers!

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