HONESDALE—Around 100 students from the Forest City, Honesdale, Wallenpaupack, and Western Wayne high schools converged on the Park Street Complex Friday morning to hone their professional skills with a series of mock interviews with 27 local business leaders.

Hosted by the Wayne County School to Work Committee, Mock Interview Day has been going on for over 20 years, said committee chair Deborah Kussoff.

“It's very general,” said Kussoff. “We serve students from all academic levels, too,” she added noting some in attendance are members of their respective districts' special education programs and others are among the highest academic achievers.

Students sat for three, ten-minute interviews with local business professionals, where they present a copy of their general resume.

The interviews are followed by a brief five-minute evaluation on their performance.

Furthermore, students' brought their interview evaluations back to their teachers, “...to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie and what they might do to improve their interviewing skills,” said Kussoff.

Jess Wolk of the Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance added “Mock Interview Day is an important opportunity for the students to get practice and be prepared for the stresses and challenges of getting a job and starting off on a career path.

Mary Fritz, Outreach Coordinator for the Wayne County Public Library stated, “This is one of the great events from our School to Work Committee.”

Through the committee, Fritz works with the local school districts to inform them of the library's various programs both education and employment oriented, including tutoring and professional training programs.

Of the importance of Mock Interview Day, Fritz stated, “This is a great community event and these professionals are so nice to come here and give a day up from work for our kids. I think they're sincerely interested in their success.”

“The interview itself is very personal...,” said Fritz, noting it prepares students for both job interviews and college entrance interviews, “and I think they need a lot of experience, that's the key...This live experience is very valuable to the students.”

Friday's interviewers consisted of: Wayne County Commissioner, Wendell Kay; Gretchen Ruddy, AM Skier; Debbie Gillette, Northeast Inspection Consultants; Joanne Tagle and Fran Vitovsky, both retired from Western Wayne School District; Jennifer Passenti, Kelly Musti and Susan Birtch, Lackawanna College; Chris Passenti, Lords Valley Country Club; Katheryne Hait, Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance; Kevin Orr, Coldwell Banker; Paul Edwards, Wayne County Community Foundation; Lynne Goodwin, Yoga International; Pete Ioppolo, Delaware Valley School District; Bethany Kearney, Confinis CPM; Courtney Fritz, Woodloch Resorts; Craig Grimm, Wayne Bank; Ed Martin (retired) and William Theobald, Wallenpaupack School District; Rebecca Miszkiel, Wayne Memorial Hospital; Ryanne Jennings, The Cooperage Project; Randi Regenski, Country Carts; Kellyn Nolan, Johnson College; Tony Herzog, Financial Coach; Michael Fareley, Esq., Barna Law; Gina Lecce, Settlers Hospitality Group; Susan Shaffer, The Stourbridge Project.

Interviewers and interviewees were treated to refreshments prepared by the Wayne County Park Street Kitchen under the supervision of Manager Victoria Bickel and the Human Resources Center.

The whole event was sponsored by the Wayne County Employment Coalition.

Kussoff noted in an email following Mock Interview Day, the Wayne County School to Work Committee is “very grateful...for all who gave their time and expertise to this event.”

The School-to-Work Committee is comprised of representatives from Forest City, Wallenpaupack, Wayne Highlands, and Western Wayne school districts, Lackawanna and Johnson colleges, The Wayne Pike Workforce Alliance, The Wayne County Public Library, local business leaders and agencies, and local elected officials.

“We try to supplement our events to aid the districts in their efforts to prepare the students for the ...workforce of the 21st Century,” said Kussoff.

In addition to Mock Interview Day, the School-to-Work Committee also hosts “Manners Matter,” an interview scenario where students meet with business leaders for a meal to review and practice various customs of etiquette and formal dress in the business world.

“The Lords Valley Country Club donates a beautiful, very elegant luncheon and then business and community leaders come in and they talk to the kids about interviewing skills over a meal,” said Kussoff. “The local banks come in and do a presentation on dressing for success. The divide the girls and boys up and they talk to them about the rules and regulations of dressing for an interview.”

Additionally, a growing topic of interest presented to the students is how to keep their social media accounts clean and professional when applying for a job.