Over eight years ago I had the opportunity to begin conducting mock interviews at the Beaver County Career & Technology Center to help students prepare for the real world. I was introduced to this opportunity by my friend, Renee Digiacomo, who teaches Business Information Systems and she asked me to help. She had the idea of preparing students for the real world by using business leaders she knew to help with the interview process. There are three of us who have been doing the interviews over the years: myself, Director of Business Administration here at Questeq; Deb Gray, owner of Express Professionals; and April McShane, Territory Manager of the Bradford Institute.
The process of the mock interview goes as follows: the students are first prepped weeks ahead of time with a mock job opening and job description that they must use to prepare for the interview. Next, they work on their resumes, letters of intention, and study the criteria that they will be judged upon during the interview process. While students prepare for their interview, we create score sheets that vary in criteria from proper business attire, resume portfolio, and ability to answer and ask questions. Each student is brought into the classroom where our panel conducts interviews. Once the interviews are completed and scored, we bring the students back in and discuss with them mistakes and give advice on how they can do better. The student with the highest score is awarded the job.
There are so many things the students gain from this; courage and confidence are two that really stand out to me. I remember one incident where our influence on a student was extremely powerful: I was out to dinner and our waitress said that she did a mock interview with me and it helped her get the job that she wanted. She thanked me for all the help we gave her, and it was one of the reasons she beat out the competition. That was a great feeling to hear that she took to heart what she had learned and how the class helped her for the real world. We sometimes see repeat students since they may be sophomores or juniors in previous interviews. It’s fun when they return, and we see the improvements they made from last year.
Through the years I have learned the value of the entire interview process. There is so much competition in today’s job market and it’s extremely important to differentiate yourself and show the employer that you are the person for the job they are offering. Also, it is so important to research the company you want to work for because in the end, the employer wants people committed and enthusiastic to work for their company!
Finally, I would like to add that as a panel of interviewers we are not moderate just because they are students. We are tough in our criticisms and we do that to get the students to think about the reality of their future career path. It is a great teaching tool and I am honored to be a part of it every year!