Mock interviews provide professional practice

Katrina Petrie, a senior in the college of Nursing has a mock interview at the Career Services Center Friday to improve her interviewing skills.
Katrina Petrie, a senior in the college of Nursing has a mock interview at the Career Services Center Friday to improve her interviewing skills.

Amanda Hein confidently walked into her interview with a potential employer with resume in hand and all potential answers at the ready.

Fortunately, this was just practice.

Hein, a senior in the College of Health Sciences and career intern for Marquette’s Career Services Center, was actually in the midst of a mock interview with Uline corporate recruiter Patty Jaeger.

Each month, Career Services focuses on different job searching skills. In September, the concentration was on resumes and cover letters. This month’s focus is interviewing.

Career Services staff conducts mock interviews, but Friday was the first time they’ve brought in company recruiters, according to Matt Myers, career counselor for Career Services.

Hein described her skill sets and showcased her suitability for a potential position in a 30-minute mock interview with Jaeger.

“I was actually really nervous,” Hein said.

One wouldn’t have known it on the surface. But Hein said she could have come up with better examples to answer Jaeger’s pointed questions.

Hein admitted to not knowing exactly what it is she wants to do post-graduation. Although she did not switch her major, biomedical sciences, she has developed more of an interest in the business world thanks to her work with Career Services.

“Obviously, I need to figure out where I’m going,” Hein said. “It’s just a long process. If you’re going to try to switch majors, it’s a difficult process.”

Jaeger advised Hein to figure out a direction post-graduation, but otherwise she said she thought Hein handled the pressure of the mock interview well.

“The only concern I had with Amanda — and it was obvious — is that she does not know what she wants to do,” Jaeger said. “But I can tell she takes initiative, is very hard-working and a problem-solver, and she’s an extrovert. She knows her strengths.”

Jaeger had two other interviews  Friday. She noted her interview with Joseph Lampe, a sophomore in the College of Engineering.

“First off I was really impressed he did this as a sophomore, and he really knows what he wants to do,” Jaeger said.

“His high school education was paid for,” she said. “But his family said he was on his own here. His plan here was to get a car for $500, fix it up and sell it for $4,000. He takes a lot of initiative, is very hard-working and passionate about it. I was in shock when I saw that.”

Shock and awe aside, the mock interview established an area for students to pitch themselves to employers in a more formal setting than merely an introduction at last month’s Career Fair.

Myers, who organized the event, described the tips students could use for the interview process.

“The key thing with an interview is being yourself,” he said. “You can pretend to be someone else for only so long. If you get the job, you can’t pretend. But show comfort and confidence at what you’re saying.”

Myers said the interview process is a two-way street — it’s as important for students to ask what employers are seeking as much as what the student is looking for.

“It’s up to you to convince them,” he said. “You’re interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. You’re just trying to find out if they are a good fit for you. You’ll find out there whether it works or not.”