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UWRF Mock Interview Day provides real-life experience

November 7, 2014

Students might agree that getting a job right out of college sounds like an ideal situation, but not just any job, the job that you actually want.

Students take classes to prepare for once they are in that job, but how many students take advantage of an opportunity to actually get the job? UW-River Falls’ “Mock Interview Day” provides students and alumni the opportunity to enhance their communication and interviewing skills that are necessary to be competitive in today’s job market.

This semester’s Mock Interview Day will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 13, in the Riverview Ballroom.

Career Services sponsors the event in which they invite employers to campus to conduct mock interviews with students. 2008 UWRF alumna Kaydi Peterson, who is the human resources officer at the River Falls First National Bank, has been conducting mock interviewers for over five years.

“Going from interviewee to interviewer is a unique and special experience,” Peterson said. “I’ve been in the student’s shoes so I approach it as a learning opportunity. To share advice, calm their nerves, but still provide a real life experience.”

By attending Mock Interview Day, students will get a better understanding of what to expect in a typical interview. They will also receive feedback to refine their interviewing skills.

“Most students want to get a college degree so they can get a better job, and knowing how to interview well is incredibly important to getting that job,” said communication studies Professor Jennifer Willis-Rivera. “Only getting more interviewing experience will benefit students.”

Not only does Mock Interview Day provide good interview practice, students will also learn what skills and qualities employers look for when hiring.

“Communication is huge. Face-to-face communication is still very important in the work force, especially with the presence of electronics nowadays,” Peterson said. “With the newer generation, some students are having a hard time with the communication.”

The interviewer will be matched with a student based on their major.

“We try to connect the student and their major with the industry, organization, or type of work that particular person would hire,” said director of Career Services Melissa Wilson.

Mock Interview Day has evolved over the years to better serve students. The day use to be called “Backpack to Career,” in which 30-40 students would attend.

Backpack to Career was held in Hagestad Hall and students were given college and career advice, and mock interviews were conducted. In recent years, now more than 200 students participate.

“The day has really taken on a new look and feel over the years,” Wilson said.

Career Services now partners with faculty to increase participant attendance. Each year six to 10 professors require that their students attend.

Willis-Rivera requires some of her communication courses to attend because she believes interviewing is a skill that most students do not get enough of.

“When you go into the job market, something that is critical to getting a job is good interview skills,” Willis-Rivera said. “Certainly things like courses you’ve taken and GPA help, but another thing that is critical is good interviewing skills.”

In preparation for Mock Interview Day, there are some things that students should keep in mind.

Attendees should dress in business professional attire and display a positive attitude while at the event. In addition, students should practice possible interview question answers ahead of time.

Wilson and Peterson also agree that students should not be afraid to brag about themselves.

“It’s a very uncomfortable situation to brag about yourself, but we have to do that in an interview,” Peterson said. “Employers want to know about your transferrable skills from your coursework or past jobs so we have to talk about skills and create a picture of how that will relate to the position.”

Wilson also believes that practicing before the day of the event will lead to students feeling more comfortable at the actual interview.

“Practice out loud and give yourself feedback,” she said. “This self-feedback can make everyone a better interviewee.”

One of the major advantages of attending Mock Interview Day is the opportunity to network.

“For a student who attends Mock Interview Day, every semester starting freshmen year, they have the potential to graduate with eight business cards in their pocket that they wouldn’t have unless they attend Mock Interview Day,” Wilson said. “That’s where the advantage lays; the contacts they make.”

Students who would like to attend Mock Interview Day must sign up for an interview time slot on uwrf.edu.