Mock interviews lead to real internships

12/7/2012

Scott Hankins conducts a mock interview with Monica Bailey Scott Hankins conducts a mock interview with Monica Bailey

The sweaty palms. The increased heart rate.

Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience even for the most veteran candidate.

So how do University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business (COB) students calm their nerves as they plan for some of their first interviews?

This fall the COB Internship Office implemented a new requirement for Internship candidates and students registered for BA300, the Career Development class: They had to participate in mock interviews.

Mock interviews provide an excellent forecast of what to expect during a real interview and can improve interviewing skills, said Fab Snage, relationship manager within COB’s Internship Office. They simulate a real interview with a career professional providing instant feedback on shortcomings.

Internship employers overwhelmingly supported the effort, with 29 interviewers from 21 companies participating.

“These are great students who have done unbelievable things. But they’re still learning how to present their accomplishments in an interview when they’re nervous,” said Scott Hankins, Merrill Lynch financial adviser, who conducted about a dozen mock interviews and ended up offering one participant an internship. “So it was great to give feedback to them and see an immediate improvement.”

In total, 177 students from BA300 and COB student organizations took advantage of the opportunity. A few even asked to do it more than once.

Students were expected to treat the interview as a simulation of a real interview. They were required to dress in professional business attire, research the interviewers’ companies and send thank you notes at the end of the interview schedule.

Interviewers were given the choice to conduct an uninterrupted interview and give feedback at the end, or give feedback as the interview went along. Many selected the later, choosing to provide immediate feedback to any candidate’s shortcomings.

Student Monica Bailey participated in the interviews to increase her confidence and gain professional insight into what she could improve.

“After the mock interviews, I felt better prepared. As a result, my comfort level in interviews increased significantly,” Bailey said.

That increased confidence seems to be paying dividends already. Bailey said the feedback she received ultimately helped her obtain an internship.