Practice helps hone job interview skills
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - With jobs scarce and competition for positions tough for newly minted college graduates, John Rindy, director of Slippery Rock University's Office of Career Services, has one word he believes will help: "Practice."
"Maybe you can see where I am going with this; there is no such thing as a natural born job interviewer, you have to practice to be on your game," Rindy said.
SRU recently added a mock web-cam interview system for SRU students and alumni. The online system allows students to practice their interview skills and prepare for companies that are already integrating remote web-cam interviews into their hiring procedures. [See Dec. 2, 2011, rockpride online, or http://rockpride.sru.edu/2011/RP120211/webcamJobs.php]
"Career counselors spend a lot of time thinking about this sort of thing, and as I interact with my career brethren here at SRU and throughout the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, we all wonder the same thing, 'Why are so many students, and others, complacent about truly preparing themselves to launch their careers?," Rindy said.
"In my 10 years of coaching soccer, I recall the assorted methods of discipline I used with players who failed to show up for practice. Yet over all of those years, I would estimate, I probably had well over a 98 percent attendance rate for both practices and games. No question, coaches spend a lot of time impressing on their players how practice can refine even the most capable athlete's individual skills, while helping them to recognize opportunities where their skills can contribute to a team's combined effort. As I apply the same philosophy to the world of work, and more specifically, the job search, I wonder why so many people, like players, fail to show up for practice. Preparation is the key to success."
Students looking for entry-level positions need to prepare for the inevitable job interview, he said.
"Using my soccer analogy, my teams probably prepared eight to 10 hours, as a team, for each game. We prepared a minimum of 480 minutes for a 90-minute game. Applying that same framework to job interviewing: If a student schedules a mock interview with Career Services, they should probably spend time preparing, put on sharp business attire, walk or drive to the interview, then spend at least an hour with a career counselor. That totals 120-180 minutes, but this practice session is not for a 90-minute sports contest, it is practice for their first professional job; a job that, for better or worse, may well set the course for a career path lasting their entire working life," he said.
Prior to a first interview, Rindy said students should, at the minimum, have their resume, cover letters and thank you notes reviewed by a career professional.
"Additionally, they should engage in web-based practice interviews [available at http://sru.interviewstream.com] and at least one face-to-face mock interview with one of our graduate assistants or professional staff members. As they say on ESPN 'C'mon man! This is the rest of your life,'" Rindy said.
Students are urged to explore SRU's career resources at www.sru.edu/career, or visit the office at 124 Bailey Library for more information or to participate in a mock interview.