BUSINESSES have helped give more than 200 Oldham teenagers a taste of what a job interview entails.

Saddleworth School recently held online mock interviews for its Year 10 students, with the aim of building their confidence and also to be better-aware of the importance of personal behaviour and body language in front of prospective employers.

Among those helping were staff from furniture company Hill’s Panel Products (HPP), which has its headquarters in the borough.

Carole Hamnett-Sadler, HPP’s HR manager, supported the interviews along with Dan Mounsey, marketing and business development director, who is also a former Saddleworth School pupil.

Ms Hamnett-Sadler said: “Year 10 students are at the stage where they are starting to think about their futures after taking GCSE exams next year and leaving school at the age of 16. Whatever options they choose - from sixth form, college, employment or apprenticeships - they will probably be invited to interviews. So, mock interviews held now will help them prepare for real interviews in future, boosting their confidence, skills and presentation.”

She added it was “really rewarding” to help pupils, hear about their interests and offer advice.

Christine Dempster, the business and careers lead at Saddleworth School, added: “We’re really grateful to HPP and all the other businesses, organisations, parents and individuals who support our mock interviews. These give students confidence, encouragement and experience of a real interview situation in preparation for college and apprenticeship applications.

“Traditionally, businesses and other contacts in the community have helped us by conducting face-to-face mock interviews and in other ways, such as visiting school for business lunches to speak about careers. However, the Covid pandemic restrictions have meant that a lot of physical careers activities have not been held. Instead, students have received a lot of other advice and resources, including these mock interviews online.”

She said other businesses, including Kellogg’s, plus public sector organisations such as the Department of Work & Pensions and local councillors, had also helped.