January 09, 2019 | By NACE Staff
TAGS: best practices, branding and marketing, interviewing, nace insights
Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
University of the Pacific has been holding the “Meet Your Future Mock Interview Week” each spring for the past 20 years to provide its students with real-world interviewing experiences, and its employers with the opportunity to brand on campus and make connections with students.
“However, we are careful not to bill this as a college recruiting event,” explains Chris Haruta, Pacific’s director for corporate and employer engagement in its Career Resource Center (CRC).
Instead, the event is designed to provide students with a “safe” environment for them to practice their interviewing skills and the opportunity to improve their skills based on the feedback they receive.
“The format gives them peace of mind because they can focus on connecting with real employers and gaining valuable experience and expert feedback, without worrying about losing out on an internship or full-time job,” Haruta says.
“Nothing compares to sitting in front of a recruiter they’ve never met before and going through a process they will eventually experience.”
That’s not to say that recruiting doesn’t occur organically. Haruta reports that each year, several employers hire students they first met during the “Meet Your Future Mock Interview Week” for full-time positions and internships.
Each mock interview is 45 minutes long, with 30 minutes allotted for the interview itself and 15 minutes for the recruiter to provide feedback to the student. After the mock interview, students fill out a two-minute online survey on site about their experience. The CRC also asks recruiters to fill out a hard-copy evaluation for each interviewee during which the recruiter assesses the student’s interviewing performance and competencies using a Likert scale.
The evaluation form was developed by Deb Crane, Pacific’s director for campus career partnerships, and it has enabled staff to identify students who need to strengthen certain aspects of their interviewing and collect data about the strengths and weaknesses of Pacific students in a broader sense. The weaknesses can then be addressed with individual sessions, resources, and programming.
Examples of the competencies that employers rate are the students’ ability to:
Although Pacific has held the “Meet Your Future Mock Interview Week” for two decades, there are still challenges associated with the event.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” Haruta points out. “The biggest challenge is no shows, which unfortunately occur on both the student and employer sides. We make it clear that this is also an exercise in professionalism.”
The CRC reminds students who register that it is a professional commitment. If a student needs to cancel, he or she must contact staff at the earliest time possible. The center blocks the career management system accounts of those students who don’t comply until they send a note of apology to the employer.
“We value our relationships with our employers and the actions of our students are a reflection of us,” Haruta says.
“We expect them to conduct themselves professionally and we hold them accountable if they don’t. We also have recruiters who cancel or forget. In an attempt to prevent this, we send them multiple reminders and provide logistical information. We also ask them to have a back-up ready to step in in case they have a conflict or are sick.”
One of the elements that has led to the success of the event and eliminated a headache for the CRC is it has left the responsibility of selecting employers and time slots to the students.
“It is up to them to take the time to review the list of employers participating and to select the employer and time slot that best works with their schedule,” Haruta says.
“For example, we have many students from our Eberhardt School of Business who are required to participate in this event. They are informed from the beginning that it is up to them to sign up early to get the time and employer that is of most interest to them.”
Haruta also believes that when the students themselves select the employers they want to work with, they are more invested in and excited about the mock interview.
“This is a very important event for both our employers and our students,” Haruta explains. “The mock interview week offers employers an opportunity to brand their organizations, connect with students, and strengthen their ties to Pacific at no charge.
“For students, it’s a great way to practice and get interviewing experience without anything to lose. They learn what they need to improve and can do so with our assistance. After all, we don’t want their first real interview experience to come when there is a job or internship at stake.”
Percent of institutions conducting First-Destination Surveys
Median number of professional staff
Percent of career centers with employer partnership programs
Percent of staff time spent student-facing
2021-22 Career Services Benchmarks Survey