Mock interviews mirror real-life nerves

by Alecia Kissel

During the holidays, Milliner & Associates went to Decatur Central High School to mock interview their students involved in the JAG (Jobs for America’s Graduates) program.

JAG helps students with their job search, resume building, interview skills and networking. This week we are going back to provide face-to-face feedback on how we thought the interviews went and to allow for the students to ask us direct questions about the process.

Mock interviewing the students was the first time that I was on the other side of the interview desk. It was my turn to ask the questions. As I prepare to interview candidates coming into the office this week all on my own, I will keep the high schoolers’ interviews in mind.

I was in the students’ seats a little less than four years ago, so the life experiences and pressures of high school are still fresh in my mind. I found myself relating frequently to each of the students whether they noticed it or not, so I tried to make the mock interview as stress-free as possible. Only a handful of the questions could be asked because there’s not much time in a 10-minute interview. Time flew for me, but I’m sure time moved like molasses for them.

What surprised me most about interviewing the students was that none of them seemed to have any walls up. In some of my own interviews and interviews I have shadowed at Milliner & Associates, there seems to be some hesitation to share information with the interviewer. A wall is up that keeps the real candidate from shining through, and sometimes that is just nerves. I did not experience this with the high school students though. They had an answer for every question almost immediately by just being their genuine selves. It was so refreshing that I even felt more comfortable in the mock interviews.

If I could go back and do it all over again, I would take just a few minutes to debrief with each student about how they felt at the end of the interview. Some students were nervous, and I wish I could have reassured them that they all did great jobs to boost their confidence. I genuinely wanted to help the students at Decatur, and while the candidates I am interviewing at Milliner & Associates are not high schoolers, I will apply what I learned from the mock interviews nonetheless. Any experience on the other side of the interview desk is valuable no matter who is answering the questions.

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