Mock Interviews

Mock Interviews: Preparing for Reentry

Do you remember your first job interview? How nervous you were? For the Department of Corrections offenders preparing for release, the prospect of sitting in front of a panel and describing their skills and what they have to bring to a position can be even more overwhelming than for you or me. While you or I are competing against other skilled and qualified individuals, we don’t have the hurdle of a conviction to also overcome.

Correctional Industries’ (CI) mission is to help offenders learn job skills. But the training doesn’t stop with how to operate a CNC Router or industrial sewing. CI staff are working with offenders on the soft skills, including how to prepare for interviews. CI’s team of Offender Workforce Development Specialists, teach offenders how to write resumes and letters of interest, and how to search for jobs. To bring workforce development full circle, CI hosts mock interview fairs.

The mock interviews, held at CI headquarters, Washington Corrections Center, and Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC), brought volunteers from the community to act as the interviewers. The offenders, dressed in ties and dress shirts, sit in front of interviewers and answer questions about their experience, skills, and the changes they have made during their incarceration. The interviewers, not expected to offer positions to the offenders, provide constructive feedback to the offenders on the interview process.

Former offenders have also been asked to participate, as part of a panel, to answer questions and provide insight to those still incarcerated, about their experiences finding employment post release.

In addition to preparing resumes and letters of interest, to participate in the mock interview fair, offenders must be within 18 months of their release, volunteered for the experience, and have completed Makin’ It Work, a cognitive coaching course.

This day is not just a benefit for the offenders. After the most recent mock interview fair held at CRCC, a community participant had this to say, “Not only did this event provide the offenders with an opportunity to look towards a positive future, it also allowed community members to engage with and humanize a group of people who are far too often marginalized in our society.”