Juniors of Manchester Valley High School are putting their communication and interview skills to the test with a mock interview experience on April 25. This will be the school's first mock interview since the school administration moved the mock interviews from freshmen to junior year.

Previously, Manchester students participated in mock interviews held at North Carroll High School during freshmen year, said Mark Smith, career connections coordinator at Manchester Valley. It was a graded part of the freshmen seminar class, he said.

The freshmen who took the class at North Carroll before transferring to Manchester Valley were not required to go through the interview process again. That makes this year's junior class the first to have mock interviews at Manchester Valley, said Shannon Zepp, academic facilitator at Manchester Valley.

According to Zepp, the mock interview became part of the school's Advisory Program and a graduation requirement for junior year in 2009, when the new high school was opened.

"We chose to do mock interviews in the 11th grade spring because students are definitely thinking about the future, more so than in the 9th grade when post-graduation is still abstract," Zepp said.

The students of class 2012 were the last group to have mock interviews as freshmen, said Rebecca Lefkowitz, a senior at Manchester Valley. When the school announced the change of year for the mock interview, everyone agreed, that while the experience was a good one, junior year is a more appropriate time, she said.

"Though the process was still rewarding for me, it's been a long time since freshman year," Rebecca said. "I've done so much since, that it would be a stretch to apply some of the tips we learned then."

Juliana Ottomano, also a senior at Manchester Valley, said having the experience as a junior would have been more beneficial during the graduation process.

"When I did my mock interview as a freshman I felt that it wasn't as necessary because I hadn't started to think about college or any possible interviews that would come with applying," Juliana said. "As a junior, students are more likely to take it seriously because it is relevant to them."

During the mock interviews, students will meet with a local business professionals and present their resume and portfolio, Smith said. The interview will result in a final assessment to determine how prepared each student is for future career or college interviews, he said.

"The interviewer will fill out an evaluation sheet and then review it with the student," Smith said. "Students don't pass or fail their mock interview. The graduation requirement is for them to have the experience and we expect students to do the best they can."

Having time in school to practice interviewing skills and go through the experience is extremely helpful when getting ready for college, Rebecca said.

"I had to do an interview for a very prestigious scholarship for the University of Virginia and it was probably the most terrified I've ever been," Rebecca said. "The mock interview prepared me for thinking on my feet and acting professionally and appropriately for the situation."

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office has been participating in mock interviews at various high schools for more than four years, said Amanda Dell, personnel services specialist with the Sheriff's Office. She will be attending the mock interviews at Manchester Valley.

"The mock interview cultivates and nurtures the development of relevant life skills and emphasizes their importance when it comes to entering college or the work force," Dell said. "It gives students the opportunity to network with potential employers while simultaneously teaching them how to be prepared for such experiences."