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Role reversal at the job application training – from school to the job interview

Employees from Aebi Schmidt in St. Blasien engage themselves in helping the young generation preparing for their professional career already since many years. Often the job interview is the first obstacle the students face on their route to an apprenticeship. Learning formulas, vocabulary or annual figures is part of their daily routine whereas the process of and correct conduct at the job interview is entirely new for most of the students.

Therefore, an annually job application training for students of the 8th and 9th grade of the the Fürstabt-Gerber-School in St. Blasien is offered by instructors and employees from the human resources department of Aebi Schmidt. During two mornings the students have to slip into different roles in order to prepare themselves for job interviews. However the students don’t know which role they will have to play beforehand, is it applicant, head of personel or instructor? “This is part of the exercise. Each student should prepare different roles and be able to play all of them” says Gitta Windisch, the HR Manager of Aebi Schmidt Group. “The students are grouped in advance and have to choose a regional company representing their group. The goal is to keep the training as realistic as possible. This requires gathering information about the company as well as the profession itself just as it is mandatory in real life.

The teachers support the students in preparing possible questions and answers of the interview partners. Writing a cover letter and curriculum vitae is part of the exercise as well.

Felix Haffner, personnel manager of Aebi Schmidt Germany GmbH and Sonja Kaiser, responsible for commercial training, follow the conversations with a trained eye. Attention is also drawn on greeting, gesture and body language in order to analyze the overall conversation at the end. In the matter of body language Felix Haffner teaches the students hints like “Look into the opposites eyes” or “don’t wriggle with your feets”. Furthermore important, is to be prepared to answer openly asked questions like “What is your understanding of being team-minded?” rather than “Are you team-minded?” and if in the role of the interviewer to ask this kind of questions.

The experienced personnel manager reassures the students: “Being nervous is part of a job interview after all it is about your own future. However more important is to be authentic and not to fib. Furthermore, if someone has been active in an association or helped within their parent’s company they should mention this in their job application, because beside school achievements personal engagement is taken into account as well.

At the very end the the students receive important advices regarding the application process: The applications have to be sent already one year ahead the new training period, which usually starts in September. “Being too late leads to rejections” reminds Sonja Kaiser the students. The form of the application is important no matter whether they have to be handed in in paper form or digitally.

The students of the Fürstabt-Gerber school are now well-prepared for upcoming job interview thanks to the team around Gitta Windisch. Upholding the motto “role reversal” the students award the teachers and personnel staff with best marks.


Experienced Pros – Gitta Windisch (l) and Sonja Kaiser giving valuable advices on how to write a cover letter and curriculum vitae.



Felix Haffner (2nd fr. right) together with his student-teammate questions the “applicant”