Mock interviews can help job-seekers

Lucy Li, Staff Writer

The transition from a college campus to society can be intimidating, but, for Pitt-Johnstown students, the career services counselors have their backs.

The Pitt-Johnstown careers services center offers assistance to better prepare students for future jobs. One form of assistance is mock interviews.

If students want to go in for a mock interview, they have to make an appointment with a career counselor in advance as it takes time for the counselors to prepare, said Student Affairs Assistant Vice President Bob Knipple.

Knipple said that they try to have two counselors participate in the mock interviews, and, although all interviews have common components, there are also differences among the disciplines and purposes.

“We customize the mock interview based on each student’s particular situation.  We talk with the student about appropriate interview etiquette and ask some sample questions that they should expect for their actual interview.

“At the end, we do a critique of their performance.  Probably one of the things we discuss most at the end is awareness of verbal ticks, or filler, such as, ‘like,’ ‘um’ and, ‘you know,’” Knipple said.

In most cases, students don’t even realize they (used) those words.  We also talk about ways to make responses more powerful or succinct.  It’s important that students respond in a way that is informed and articulate,” said Knipple.

He said they also talk to students about common mistakes that interviewees make, such as being unprepared, arriving late or dressing inappropriately.

Something to note, said Knipple, is that they also check the interviewee’s social media posts, like 93 percent of employers do.

“We encourage students look through their posts and scrub their account by removing anything that can be deemed offensive or inappropriate.”

He also recommended that students have a LinkedIn account, as it has become an almost necessary part of the job market.

The majority of the students who take advantage of the mock interviews service are seniors, but other students can also take advantage of this service when applying for internships, summer jobs and graduate schools, said Knipple.

Many students seem to know about the existence of the career services center, but not many have taken advantage of it.

Junior student Clay Patrick said that he has never used it, but he knows about it, and he plans on going there for a tech writing project soon.

However, he said he did not know that the career services center offers mock interviews.

“If I need to get an internship or a job, (I would probably go there) to prep for it,” said Patrick.

Another junior student, Erin Whyte, said she also knows only about the existence of the careers services center.

“I’ve had people come in to my classes and talk about it, but never used any services,” said Whyte.

Like Patrick, Whyte said she did not know that center staff offer mock interview services, and is hesitant about whether she would ever use this service.

“We already have done mock interviews in my Capstone classes; I don’t know if I would necessarily go there. I guess it depends on what I needed,” said Whyte.

Knipple said that he thinks that these mock interviews are effective.

He said he has had students regularly stop by their office to tell them that the mock interviews had helped a lot, and he hopes that more students take advantage of not only the mock interviews services, but all their services.

“We tell them that we are here to take them ‘from classroom to career,’ and mock interviews are a key part of that process.

“We encourage any student preparing for an interview to make an appointment with us, if for no other reason than to just have the experience of going through the interview process,” he said.