BankWork$™ Students “Interviewed” by KPMG Experts

10-12-2012- The latest group of JVS BankWork$™ students got some early practice in interviewing and job preparation skills less than a week before they graduate from the agency’s award-winning bank teller training program and hit the job market for real.

Experts from the financial advisory firm KPMG conducted mock employment interviews with the BankWork$™ students during a Thursday morning workshop at EXPO Center Los Angeles. The students also received valuable feedback and career skills tips.

Students learned to expect questions about lengthy gaps in their resumes and how to successfully spin the question “What do you feel is your biggest weakness?” Fidgety and anxious-seeming students were instructed to relax, avoid rambling answers and even sit on their hands as a calming mechanism. As a general rule, interviewees should maintain eye contact and keep that smile.

And with days before they complete the eight-week training program and face actual recruiters, how did the JVS students come off?

“It seems like the students are very well prepared,” said KPMG interviewer Cary Potter. “The BankWork$™ program really helps them tailor their resumes as well as their conversation during an interview to focus on what a bank is really looking for. I actually learned something. This has been a great experience.”

The mock interviews and workshops came about thanks to a partnership between JVS and EXPO Center where the BankWork$™ training classes are held. In 2011, Friends of EXPO Center Board member Stephen A Stewart, who works at KPMG, brought 30 KPMG employees to the center to conduct a resume and job skills workshop for members of the community. The event was such a success that Stewart asked Julia Furer, Community Partnerships Director, about repeating it 2012.

Furer suggested bringing in another EXPO Center partner and suggested JVS and BankWork$™.

“I knew they had their graduation and interviews coming up, and I thought ‘Why not give them some practice,’” said Furer.

BankWork$™ Manager Lisa Meadows arranged for 21 students from the Los Angeles class and three students from the new BankWork$™ Van Nuys class to ready their resumes, dress for success and face the “interviewers.” Each student was interviewed by two different KPMG employees and received a job counseling session, totaling about 45 minutes of individual attention.

“It’s a great practice run for them,” said Meadows, “The time they needed to be here for the interviews is the same time they will need to be here for graduation. So are they on time? Are they prepared? Are they dressed appropriately? These are all things we’ve been working on over the past few weeks.”

BankWork$™ was developed in 2006 by JVS in partnership with former Wells Fargo Chief Operating Officer Les Biller of The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation along with Bank of America, Citibank, City National Bank, Pacific Western Bank, US Bank, Union Bank, Wells Fargo, the State of California Employment Training Panel and United Way.  Additional partners include First Entertainment Credit Union, One West Bank, and Cathay Bank.

Since its inception, nearly 80% of graduates have secured employment with 75% still employed after six months. In 2011, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended a BankWork$™ graduation and commended the program, calling it “an example of public private partnership at its best.”

BankWork$™ training is free, but applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, speak and write English, have basic computer skills and have no adult felony convictions.

To request an application or for more information, contact Lisa Meadows at (310) 273-6633, ext. 241.