When employers recruit at Bowdoin, they are consistently impressed by students' striking accomplishments on paper, but according to Career Advisor Meg Springer, "we have heard repeatedly...that during the interview, [students] are basically blowing it because they haven't practiced and aren't presenting themselves well." As a result, "jobs are being left on the table."
With this in mind, the Career Planning Center (CPC) has implemented its first mock-interview day, aimed at giving students practice and confidence in "selling themselves" in the job applicant pool.
Today, between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., 75 students will attend 20-minute interviews with five minutes of feedback. Springer describes it as a wide-scale "speed-interviewing event."
The participating students, primarily seniors, signed up for the event on eBear, the CPC's recruiting network. They selected jobs to hypothetically apply for and were later assigned professionals from their respective fields to interview with.
Twenty professionals, including five Bowdoin alumni, are coming to the college from all over the state to participate.
In an effort to simulate the energy surrounding "real" interviews, students were asked to dress for their respective sectors, bring three copies of an up-to-date resume, and arrive to Maine lounge 15 minutes early.
The CPC recognized that students often struggle to answer the commonly asked question of "tell me about yourself."
"Practice, practice, practice makes perfect...you practice to run a race, you practice to play a game, you practice before taking a test, you should also practice before an interview," said Springer.
She hopes students will gain poise and confidence in articulating "why they are the right person for the job, why they are a unique candidate, and why they want the job."
Yet mock-interviewer Bruce MacMillan believes that the mock exercise is not the end of the line. He advises students to continue "self-practice" sessions before real job interviews to build-up a "natural and spontaneous" interview presence.
In the past, the CPC has only been able to offer mock-interviews to a limited number to students. Springer says they intend to offer this mass mock interview day again this spring or in later years if there is positive feedback and demand continues to be high.
Kylie Huff '11, a CPC intern who helped to plan the event, expects "to get a lot out of it," but is "a little nervous." She hopes to attend law school and hopes her experience mock interviewing with a lawyer, who teaches at University of Maine will be good preparation.
The "ability to communicate, orally, and in writing, is going to be critical regardless of the field you pursue," said MacMillan.