Every year, hundreds of thousands of young people all across the UK walk with some trepidation into their first interviews. Every year, the same demographics tend to get chosen: university educated, attendees of selective schools, articulate and well presented. But does this mean that the best candidates are getting the jobs? Or are we failing to spot a huge pool of talent that hasn’t had a chance to hone their interpersonal skills?
The charity City Gateway thinks so. They run courses offering young people aged 16-25 skills workshops, work experience, CV and interview skills preparation. Last year the charity was selected to be a Deloitte society partner as part of One Million Futures. Their aim is to bring hope to communities by developing the skills and confidence needed to secure long-term education and employment outcomes that will transform futures.
A recent project with the charity involved Deloitte volunteers in Forensic (part of Financial Advisory) acting as mentors for a CV and interview workshop for City Gateway learners.
The big day arrived and the pace was frenetic. Deloitte interviewers were split into pairs to conduct mock interviews and I was immediately impressed by articulate, well-mannered and confident interviewees, who were able to relate their work experiences and studies to the roles they were interviewing for. One example that stood out for me was a candidate who explained how she was given the task of securing a high profile speaker for a graduate away day. When she phoned the speaker, she was asked ‘Who on earth are you? You sound like you’re still at school’. She paused, then explained her personal circumstances, how she was on work experience and how it was very important for her to do well. A silence followed, before the speaker replied ‘Well, you’ve certainly got a good back story’ and hung up. Five minutes later, an email arrived confirming the speaker’s attendance. When asked why she thought the speaker had decided to come, the interviewee smiled and replied ‘I just had to get her to see me as a person’.
After the interview sessions, interviewees and interviewers packed into one room and exchanged take away lessons for the day. Overall, the Deloitte impression was very favourable towards the confidence of the group and felt they could really build on this by giving more details of what they had done, but also what they wanted to achieve in their future jobs. Many attendees from Forensic also felt so inspired by the afternoon that City Gateway organisers found themselves mobbed by a crowd of investigators and tech specialists keen to get involved. Follow up sessions are planned.
Briony Pritchard, Business Development and Relationship Manager at City Gateway, commented: "The young people who took part in the CV workshop with Deloitte were of mixed experience. Some were soon-to-be taking their next step into work, and others had just taken their first step to gain the accredited and professional skills needed to progress. The volunteers were engaging, passionate and insightful. Our young people came away from the session 'buzzing' and the skills they have gained will go a long way to supporting them to thrive throughout their journey at City Gateway and into apprenticeships. Thank you to all involved, and we look forward to working again in future".