The Mock Interview
What sort of jobs have I interviewed for? Here's a partial list:
U.S. National Security Agency country/regional analyst
People Airlines (now defunct) flight attendant
retail store assistant manager
Those are jobs that I applied for, got interviewed for, and was not hired for. (Thank god!) During my university studies, I never even heard of a course such as the one I now teach, a communication skills course in which a segment is dedicated to assisting/familiarizing students with resume and application letter writing, and then with preparing for and performing at a job interview. If I'd had such a course, who knows where I would be today....
Where was I today? In class facilitating mock interviews. In each class there were four team. Each team of three or four students read and evaluated the application materials that another team's individual members had prepared, peer reviewed and revised in advance. The evaluating team, much like a hiring committee or HR group, would rank those individuals from the other team based on the quality of the materials in relation to a specific job, internship or graduate program application and then begin the interview process.
The interview process entailed setting up the room in office-like quadrants, with one team per corner behind a row of desks. In their respective stations each team created their first set of interview questions, set for the peer they'd ranked #1. During a point in the question preparation process, each team then lost one of its members, that being the person who was ranked as having the best set of materials. She or he, along with the top ranked person from each of the other teams, was directed into the corridor, there to wait until being called upon by the peer team for an interview of approximately 10-15 minutes.
Back in the classroom, each team crafted its questions, and each individual adopted a particular stance, whether friendly and smiling HR person, impatient and brusque interrogator or something in between. A request was made for Academy Award worthy performances, both from the interviewers and the interviewees. No matter what the demeanor of each interviewer was set to be, all sessions had a principle interviewer and a note-taker, the person whose main task was to reflect on the verbal and nonverbal behavior of the applicant. When the first round of interviews finished, the process was repeated in a second round then in a third, and then in a fourth. In this way, every student had an opportunity to be an interviewer multiple times, and to be interviewed once.
After all the rounds were completed, a debriefing session was held where students were encouraged to share something about their experience.
This is another opportunity for such a debriefing. How do the students view the process and these interviews? That's exactly what this bog post is all about.
Students, please add your thoughts. Innocent bystanders, please see the commentary below.