What I Learned at a Mock Interview

By Luis H. Garay

As I’m currently job search, I’m consistently looking for tips and tricks to find success during this search: from resume critiques and cover letter tips to interview etiquette. One of the things I love about my program is that one of our final classes helps us in the job search and helps us understand our transition from graduate student to new student affairs professional. As part of this class, myself and my fellow second-year cohort recently partook in mock interviews. I wanted to share a couple of things I learned as a result of this mock interview.

A little background on the set up: we were told by the coordinator of the mock interview process that this was a similar style which took place at the big placement exchanges, such as ACPA and TPE. The whole class waited in a small room until someone called our name. Then, we would go with the person to a next room and follow them to a table where we sat opposite our interviewer. Then, they would ask us interview questions and offer critique and advice both on our interview and our resume. However, as this all was happening, there were multiple interviews happening simultaneously. I would say 10-15 interviews happening at the same time. After the interview, we headed back to the room and waited for our name to be called again. At the end of it, we had interviewed three times.

The reason I wanted to do this post for this week is because I knew I could not be the only who wondered what an interview process would be like at the big placement exchanges. I also wanted to create a discussion and learn what SAFirstYears have experienced both during mock interview and placement exchange interviews. For me personally, I was wondering about the aforementioned.(right word?)

Lesson #1: The simultaneous interviews can be distracting

It can be hard to remain focused talking to your interviewer(s) when someone else is talking to their interviewer(s)--and multiply that by 10-15 in our situation and even more from what we were told occurs at a placement exchange. Not only are the voices distracting but also as people may be walking around or if your chair is back-to-back to another interviewee and they move their chair it can add to the distraction. What helped me in this situation is being engaged in the interview by tuning everyone out except for the interviewer(s) in front of me. This may not be easy for all but if you can filter out noise you are golden.

Lesson #2: Be personable and let your personality shine

This lesson can help you put at ease during the interview. The interview process can be scary and I acknowledge that. Be confident in that moment and who you are. Believe me, people respond well to confidence and can see it. Also, smile, it helps. It will keep your energy positive and may also relax the interviewer as well. Plus, they say smiles are contagious. J

Lesson #3: Remain aware of how you move your body in a confined space

I like to talk with my hands. Chalk it up to six years of Speech Team/Forensics and theatre. However, in being in a confined space where the bubble is the radius of the ends of chairs opposite one another and the ends of a 6-foot table, it is pretty small space. As such, talking with your hands can be distracting in this space. Also, everyone has their own personal bubble. Even if you are keeping your hands low you don’t want to cross them too far across the table. This was a big thing for me to get used to but also made more aware of moving my body in a certain space.

Lesson #4: Learn one new thing during each interview

I thrive on learning something new about myself during an interview. I treat each experience as a way to gain a new insight on myself. As such, I looked for one new thing to learn during each interview. From an interview question that briefly tripped me to noticing my hand gestures, learn something new. Learning can also be discovering and full of affirmation. Maybe you realize you are personable in interviews or maybe you realize your breadth of knowledge in student development theory is greater than you thought. In learning and discovering, we grow not only in our interview skills but also in better understanding who we are as practitioners.

What things have you learned as a result of mock interviewers? For those that have attended placement exchanges, any tips for these types of interviews? Share and engage by tweeting me at @LuisHGaray. Thanks for reading!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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1 comment :

  1. I just tweeted you a tip, but for those not on twitter:

    When you are interviewing at TPE or similar outlets, it is really tough to stay focused. The people next to you are loud, the person at the table behind you will be messing with their hair, the person in front of you is asking all these questions (haha), but it is extremely important that you are engaged and not looking around. Even when we are looking down writing our notes, we will notice!

    Be yourself, be genuine and be focused and YOU WILL BE GREAT!

    Good luck to everyone job searching this spring!


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