Finding a job is tough at the best of times.

However, when you’re a teenager without experience in the workplace and have never been to an interview, the task can seem even more challenging.

At one Portland secondary, Year 11 students were given a head start on the competition through a mock interview day designed to give them valuable tips and advice from experts.

The event for pupils at Atlantic Academy Portland took place just days before lockdown and was organised in conjunction with the Local Employability Partnership. Students were put through their paces by a range of professionals from a retired dentist to a prison officer and a recruitment specialist from Mploy, an agency based in the South West.

Ian Balaam, the deputy CEO of Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. The student is Hallie Bird, aged 15

Tasha Board, Careers Lead at Atlantic Academy Secondary, organised the event and told the Dorset Echo: ‘’Our mock interview days give our students valuable experience. They gain an insight into what employers are looking for through the various professionals that take part – we have a lot of support from the local community – and they are given feedback and tips on how to improve if necessary.’’

Atlantic Academy Portland currently has paces available for Reception and Year 7, September 2021 start. Please email: or visit the website:

Niki Hayton at Mploy Recruitment was full of praise for the students who participated. She provides her top tips below and said: ‘’What a pleasure it was to meet so many delightful students who fully engaged with the interview process on the day.  The preparation and research they have put in towards their future career choices was of an extremely high standard, of which they should be very proud.  It has been a tough year for our young people but students at Atlantic Academy are not letting that hold them back.  I wish them all the success for the future that they deserve.’’

Janek Tarnawski, Enterprise Co Ordinator for Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership. The student is Noah Gilbert aged 15

Here below Mrs Hayton provides her top dos and don’ts to perfecting a job interview:


Do come prepared. Do your homework about the company and the industry and arrive early.
Do quiz yourself in advance with practice common interview questions.
Do dress smartly and appropriately
Do take time for pleasantries and a bit of casual, professional social chat
Do subtly put your name on their radar the day after the interview by liking a post on their social media account.
Do ensure that your most recent posts on your social media accounts show something positive and professional and clean up your FB account.  Employers check.
Do consider your career goals and clearly define your reasons for wanting the job.
Do thank them for seeing you and express your interest in the role


Don’t fidget.
Don’t slip into non-professional language.
Don’t allow your answers to go off on tangents. Keep the focus on your best qualities.
Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s better than faking it.
Don’t speak ill of former co-workers, employers or colleagues.
Don’t reveal unnecessary personal information or mention your shortcomings
Don’t forget to give a firm handshake.
Don’t forget to highlight your biggest strengths.
Don’t panic! You’ll do great.