Career Preparation // Professionalism
Interview Know-How

This activity allows students to discuss and practice important elements of a good first impression.

Suggested Grade Level



Approximate Time Needed




Read the handout, Is your Handshake a Winner or a Killer?, and practice some handshakes with your classmates.

Take turns reading the handout, Typical Interview Elements aloud as directed.

Read the Tips for Presenting Your Resume handout.

Teacher Notes

First Impressions

Ask students how long they think it takes to create a first impression of someone who walks in the room. (It’s about 5 – 7 seconds.)

Now ask what they think will influence the employer’s first impression of them when they walk in for their interview. After a very short brainstorm, tell them that professional interviewers say that these are the things that make or break the first impression:

  • Were you on time?

  • Were you dressed well?

  • Did you look them in the eye with a good handshake?

Being on Time

Explain these two easy ways to always being on time:

  1. Do a practice run and time the trip from door to door.

  2. Plan to get there 10-15 minutes early, taking into account that your bus could be running late, you could get stuck in traffic, or something totally unexpected could happen.

Tell students that when they get their internship assignments, they will need to do this practice run BEFORE their interview appointment.

Dress for Success  

Have a discussion on what makes an outfit appropriate or inappropriate for an interview. You may want to assign students to come to the next class wearing appropriate interview clothes—and check to see if you agree with their choices!

The Handshake

Demonstrate with a student or two a professional handshake and a not-so-good handshake. Ask them to identify what’s good and what’s not good in each of the handshakes. Refer to Is your Handshake a Winner or a Killer? handout.  Provide time for students to practice.

Explain that the basic technique is this: Keep your fingers together with the thumb up and open. Slide your hand into the other person’s so that each person’s web of skin between the thumb and forefingers touches the other’s.

Good 2nd Impressions

Now that students know how to make a good 1st impression, it’s time to think about making a good 2nd impression. Ask students to offer suggestions of what makes for a good 2nd impression -- which can start as soon as 10 seconds after you walk into the room!

Two excellent ways to make a good second impression are to:

  • Ask questions that show you’ve researched the company

  • Respond to questions honestly and with confidence

Typical Interview Elements

Tell students that it will be helpful for them to have an idea of what takes place in a typical interview. Ask them to turn to the Typical Interview Elements handout and take turns reading aloud.         

Take some time to discuss the concept of an “elevator speech” –  a brief, concise statement about something (in this case about themselves and the academy) that can be delivered in the time it would take an elevator to go from one floor to another.

Ask students to call out some good ways they would explain about the academy to a potential employer.

Tips for Presenting Your Resume In An Interview

Read aloud this short handout and check for understanding.

Return to Career Readiness
Additional lessons in Professionalism

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This activity introduces students to the purpose of business cards.

Design Your Business Card

This activity introduces students to ways to design and produce a business card.

Academy Card Group Design

This activity allows students to create a design for a business card that represents their academy.

Interview Bloopers Activity

This activity allows students to anticipate some commonly-asked interview questions and practice responses.

Interview Practice

This activity allows students to practice interview techniques in small groups.

From the Horse’s Mouth

This activity allows students to explore careers that they are interested in pursuing and to understand their skill set in the context of the careers that they want to pursue.

20 Questions Activity

This activity allows students to practice asking and answering difficult interview questions and practice offering succinct yet insightful responses to questions.

Speed Dating Networking Activity

This activity provides students with an an understanding of the concept of networking and allows them to practice networking in small groups.

Questions for a Mock-Interview

This activity allows students to learn and practice the skills to make a professional and favorable first impression.


The purpose of this task is for students to demonstrate proficiency in a professional interview. This should be seen as an opportunity to practice demonstrate professionalism and interviewing. The purpose of a “mock” interview is to provide students with clear expectations for success and provide him/her with feedback prior to a “real” interview for a job, internship, etc.