Preparing Students for the Workforce: Resume & Interviewing Skills

Preparing high school students for “real-life” is one of the core purposes of your work as a high school counselor. You have the opportunity to help your students learn skills that will be necessary for the rest of their lives.

One vital area of learning that will serve them as professionals in the future is that of securing jobs via strong resume and interviewing skills. Helping students in these two areas can significantly increase their odds of obtaining and maintaining high-quality jobs throughout their lifetimes.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start when trying to impart these two skills to your students. Here are a few no-nonsense tips and ideas for incorporating resume and/or interview learning with your high school students.

When Helping Your Students Crafting a Resume

Tailor Resumes to the Industry of Interest

Expectations and best practice for resumes vary from industry to industry. For instance, a resume that will get second looks for a digital communication or social media job won’t be relevant or strategic for a role in a different industry.

Because of this, it’s important to help your students understand how valuable it can be to skip generic advice and look for job- or industry-specific tips when writing or perfecting their resumes for a particular job opening.

Unless It’s a Theater Resume, Don’t Include a Headshot

The outdated advice to include a picture on your resume still seems to circulate even though adding a headshot is now widely regarded as ill-advised. For multiple reasons, putting a picture on a resume is not a good idea.

In addition, sometimes employers aren’t allowed to accept resumes with pictures because of privacy or anti-discrimination policy. Unless it’s for theater, don’t let your students do it.

The Details Matter

This advice has remained paramount since the invention of resumes. However, it’s still good advice because so many bright-eyed young candidates fail to do it. Have your students remember to double- and triple-check the minute details on their resumes before they send them in.

Formatting inconsistencies, spelling or grammatical errors, and run-on sentences will be noticed – and they could make the difference between being considered and being tossed into the rejection pile.

Know What Steps Can Be Taken as a Student to Get a Head Start

It’s never too early to start thinking about how current educational decisions might affect future professional opportunities. It is strategic to understand how AP classes, dual enrollment, and more translate meaningfully on future transcripts and resumes.

They can have different implications for a student’s educational pathway and they can also sometimes have implications in the job search process.

Helping Your Students with Their Interviewing Skills

Do the Homework

It is essential for a student to understand as much as he or she can about a prospective employer before he or she enters the interview.

Students might have a general understanding of this fact; however, many students (and many people in general) could benefit from understanding better what information might actually benefit them. Many students don’t know how to research in a way that translates that effort into a better interview.

When they research a company, they are interested in working for before going in for their interview, help students identify the things they should be familiar with before that conversation. Some interviewers will ask generic trivia questions about the company’s founder or year of inception just to quiz the interviewee. It’s worth looking at these details if they’re available.

However, there are a few other questions students should be prepared for that are more likely to be asked.

Questions like “Why do you want to work here?” trip up a surprising number of applicants and reveal a lack of understanding about the company’s purpose and ethos.

Questions like, “What kind of working environment do you thrive in?” are better answered with a bit of context about the size, structure, and type of company. And finally, it reveals true, intelligent research if the student can ask knowledgeable questions based on their understanding of the company or business at the end of the interview. Sometimes this is the best reason of all to research more strategically.


Though it seems like a given, help your students understand that their body language, facial expressions, tone, eye contact, and subtle nonverbal communications all paint a picture of their candidacy. This picture is usually loud and clear to prospective employers even (and especially) when a student is completely unaware. It’s important for students to become more aware of how they present themselves and interact with others before a big job opportunity is on the line.

Practice Makes Perfect

Mock interviews, practice questions, and “rehearsals” aren’t utilized nearly to the degree that they could be. Practicing interview situations is one of the best ways to raise a student’s comfort level with interviewing. It raises their chances of success considerably.

If you are able to help them create an environment where they can practice different interview skills (these include answering standard questions but should also include things like negotiations and brief presentations) in the safety of your office, their interviewing experiences will be fundamentally better when they do the real thing.

Incorporating these learning areas with your students as you help them prepare for the job search process will help them excel and land the jobs they are passionate about when it comes time to seek employment.