A panel of industry professionals provided Nacogdoches High School juniors and seniors a number of best practices – as well as some not-so-best practices – on a range of topics related to job interviews, employment and performance at work. 

The program was hosted Wednesday by NISD’s Career & Technical Education Department at the NHS auditorium. 

Participants during the first session included, Josh Evans, TFP Nutrition; Cade Watson, Stiles Electric; Josh Fleming, Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas; Brandi Bryant, TeamWorks; and Harold Whitaker, Nacogdoches ISD. The second session included Watson, Bryant, Jason Bradford, Nacogdoches Sheet Metal, Plumbing & A/C and Lakisha Fletcher, Nacogdoches Medical Center. 

Panelists answered questions by students and focused on the importance of first impressions on prospective employers. 

Students provided questions for panelists.

“On a job interview, dress one to two steps above what’s expected,” advised Josh Fleming with Workforce Solutions of Deep East Texas. 

Josh Evans with TFP Nutrition said his firm, “wants to see that you try,” when it comes to the first interview. “That’s more meaningful to me.” 

Body language – no slouching, for one – are important at interview time. Along with that, students were reminded, be mindful of tattoos and piercings until you learn the culture of the company. “You don’t want that to be something that sets you back from other applicants,” Fleming said. 

Social media impact should also be taken into consideration ahead of time. If the interviewer isn’t checking out applicants on social media, someone with the employer is. 

“Be very cognizant of your social media imprint,” said Brandi Bryant, a senior business development executive with Teamworks and a former assistant athletic director at Stephen F. Austin State University. 

At Stiles Electric, while there is no actual interview, said Cade Watson, new hires should be ready to impress… and not necessarily with knowledge of the new job.  

“We’ll train you, but I can tell when someone is hustling around a job site,” said Watson, who serves as Public Relations Coordinator for the electrical firm. 

Evans emphasized the importance of being able to work well with others. “Can you work in a team environment?” he asked. 

“This type of engagement is vital for 17- and 18-year-olds preparing for the next step after high school,” said Coy Van Valkenburgh, NISD Director of Career & Technical Education. “Interaction like this – and the information – translates well for students entering the workforce and/or going on to college.”