Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Mock Interview (revisited)

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 several interview teams. 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.


$W?h0w$ said...

I never could have predicted for a flirtatious interview.

Brad Blackstone said...

Life often throws things at us that we least expect, Wyhow. You have done so many interviews: what scenario might you never have encountered?

Yong Feng said...

Flirtatious? Wow!

Personally, I really enjoyed the whole process!!! When you mentioned about the process a few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to it!

I think it was really exciting having a chance to be the interviewer and the interviewee. I really enjoyed both roles, but if I had to pick one, it would be the interviewer!

I think I have a tedency to make lives difficult for my interviewees (just to the break the mundane nature), but from the feedback that I have gotten, they felt that the experience was beneficial to them because they realize the need to work on some of their answers. It's good to know that something good came out of my acting 'efforts'.

Likewise, I have learnt a lot from this process too. One commendable point of these mock interviews would be the set-up. It makes the situation more realistic and I must say it's very creative!!

Indeed, the fun I had and the things that I learnt during these mock interviews exceeded my expectations for sure!

Min Hau Ong said...

It was really a great experience to play the role of interviewer and interviewee.
Being an interviewer, I should have an assumption that I was looking for someone who would be suitable the most to a particular position in my company. Hence, during the interview, it was reasonably to give stress questions to observe the interviewee's attitude and knowledge.
While being an interviewee, I should have expected there might be some difficulties to present myself without mistake especially under stress created by some interviewers.

Having a chance to be both interviewer and interviewee, I learnt what to do and not to do during an interview. More importantly, I realized that we should not be nervous and worried about whether we could pass an interview. If we failed an interview, it is not a bad thing because it tells us kind of job is not suitable to us. If we get such job, we might be overwhelmed with stress. Everyone has different ability, failing an interview is not telling us that we are not good enough as the interviewer is not looking for the best man. For example, a good auditor might not be a good accountant and vise versa.

ALICIA! said...

Hi Brad,

For me, the mock interview session has definitely helped me in learning tips on how to score well in my future interviews. Though I was being interviewed by people who I knew, that element of nervousness was still present. But I'm glad that, I was able to learn what would affect me during interviews so that I could overcome it and not make the same mistake in the future.

The debriefing that we had after the whole session also gave me great insights on what sort of scenarios that might occur during interviews. Again, like all other times, it is always great listening to my peer's views. Interactive learning at its best, I would say! (:

Thank you, Brad!

Eunice Chew said...

Wow, those are interesting jobs you have applied to, Brad! I can't wait to be involved in this mock interview process. I am excited to learn more about how I can improve myself to succeed in an interview…and ultimately get hired. Cheers!