Free Goodwill Program Helps Clients Stand Out During Job Interview

One in 25: That’s the average chance a job applicant has of receiving a call from a prospective employer. Those who get their foot in the door still face one or more interviews, and — if they are ultimately hired — the challenges of keeping the job. 

Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee offers a free, one-day Job Readiness Program at its eight Career Solutions Centers to help people navigate these intimidating waters. Topics covered include online application assistance, interview skills and preparation, resume optimization, dress-for-success guidance and more. 

“Ultimately, the goal of the class is to help job-seekers stand out, be unique and be remembered,” said Jim Berry, Goodwill’s Certifications and Learning Management Systems Coordinator. 

Those were Micki Hunter’s goals. 

She signed up for the Goodwill Job Readiness class in February because she was re-entering the job market after six years away. On the day she took the class, Micki was anxiously looking forward to an interview at a local call center for a counseling position. 

It’s not that Micki lacked qualifications. The 60-year-old Nashville resident has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling. And for 24 years, she had a successful career as a clinical therapist.

But she was recruited for most of those jobs and only ever had a few interviews. Her last interview was in 2005. 

“That’s why my interview skills are not the best,” she explained.  

Starting about 2008, Micki’s life was dominated by a series of misfortunes. Her brother needed a kidney transplant, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers and she eventually lost both of her parents. While serving as a caregiver for her mother, Micki’s health declined.

She contracted kidney disease, and had to stop working and seek disability benefits. After beginning dialysis, vascular problems led to the amputation of both her feet. Her last surgery was three years ago. After rehabilitating in a nursing home, Micki learned to walk using prosthetics and once again lives independently.

“My goal for this year is to learn to drive and to get a job,” she said. 

Micki is participating in a program that helps seniors find employment through the Nashville Resource Center of the National Council on Aging. That’s where she learned about Goodwill’s Job Readiness Program. 

In the Goodwill class, Micki received a wealth of information and guidance she believed would be helpful in her job search and for her upcoming interview, such as how best to answer a request to “Tell me about yourself;” which questions to avoid asking during the interview; and what an “elevator speech” is, what it should include and when it should be used.

“It’s very applicable,” Micki said. “I have been to other job training workshops and didn’t get nearly as much information that I can actually use right away.”

Jim Berry said after taking the Job Readiness class, many clients decide to come back and meet with a Goodwill career coach to create a service plan that will help them overcome any barriers they may face to their employment goals. Many also choose to register for Goodwill’s free basic computer and office productivity skills classes or for the many other job services and training programs Goodwill offers.

“The Job Readiness class is an entry point designed to help people get their foot in the door and stand out from the competition,” he said. “We want participants to feel confident that they can sell themselves in the interview and know how to be prepared so they will be less intimidated by the interview experience.”

Micki said she was feeling much more confident about her upcoming interview. 

“This was perfect,” she said. “This class gave me tools I can use.”


1. Employers receive so many applications for open positions they are often looking for reasons to quickly discard applications. By thoroughly completing all of the information using correct grammar and punctuation, you help ensure your application will make it through the initial screening process. 

2. Employers will associate your preparedness, thoroughness, neatness and writing style with potential success on the job.

3. Since many candidates for the same job may be equally qualified, the best way you can set yourself apart from others is to be adequately prepared for the interview.

4. By researching the company and position before the interview, you can link your skills, experiences and desires for growth to the goals and mission of the company. 

5. By preparing and practicing an elevator speech, you can quickly describe your skills and experience to future employers at job fairs and during interviews. 

6. By actively listening and taking notes during the interview, you can show your genuine interest in the position and the company. 

7. Going the extra mile and showing a willingness to learn will help you be successful when starting a new job. 

Goodwill Classes & Training

Goodwill Classes & Training



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