Mock Interview Day Perspectives
By Ann Couyoumjian, Richard Grieves, and Jane Miloch
The Mock Interview Unit of Study allows high school students enrolled in the Reading and Writing for the College Bound English 12 class in South Lyon (Michigan) Community Schools (SLCS) an opportunity to create a resume, research careers, develop interpersonal communication skills, and gain interview experience. Mock Interview Day provides an occasion to improve their interview performance. Instructors and career development facilitators in the school oversee this event that supports the future of these students. “In 43 years of teaching,” Grieves, the unit instructor, states, “I have not found a more useful unit for our graduating seniors’ next chapter”.
A closer look at the Michigan K-12 Standards for College and Career Readiness demonstrates the usefulness of Mock Interview Day. This unit of study directly meets the Speaking, Listening Language and Conventions of Standard English standards (Michigan Department of Education, 2011). In addition to students rehearsing best interview response strategies, students are required to compile an engaging digital career portfolio which shares each student’s individual story showcasing their skills, talents, experiences and accomplishments.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, most people will change careers multiple times in their lifetime. (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022). The practice gained through mock interviewing helps build student confidence and abate interview stress. Nervousness is expected in an interview; however, practice and experience improve interviewing acumen. Students receive constructive feedback from mock interviews, enabling them to adjust and hone their skills. Learning and forming solid interview techniques, research strategies, habits, skills, and practice pays off, throughout one’s career.
Mock Interview Day Preparation
The Mock Interview Unit begins in January. To be able to be more conversant, students conduct research on careers to solidify their post-secondary plan, considering their strengths, interests, experiences, personality, knowledge, aptitude, and goals in their quest for a good career fit in the short term. With the English teacher’s instruction, students write and revise essays, resumes, and digital portfolios, practice interviewing multiple times, and research their career path.
Career development facilitators work with classroom teachers to facilitate this unit by organizing the assessment, encouraging and educating students, and incorporating feedback for unit improvement. These individuals are employed by the school district to assist students with their career planning, guide students in their Educational Development Plan updates each year, and plan career-related events for 9th-12th grade students.
Mock Interview Day Procedures
Once the Mock Interview Day date has been set, the challenge to secure volunteers begins. Students are matched as closely as possible to interviewers who are in careers similar to their research project, providing students not only with an opportunity to practice their interviewing skills, but also allowing them to connect with potential mentors for employment possibilities.
Volunteers are recruited two to four months in advance of the event. The number of students determines how many volunteers are needed. Each student interviews with two industry representatives, with each of the two interviews having two different sets of questions. A Google Form requesting volunteer information and availability streamlines the process. The form is shared in the high school newsletter, the district newsletter, and by Reading and Writing for the College Bound staff. Parents and community members make up most of the mock interviewers. Administration and school board members also lend a hand- connecting with the students is a favorite part of their school year.
Immediately after signing up, volunteers receive email confirmation of their commitment. Two weeks in advance of the event the following information is shared with interviewers:
- Location specifics
- Detailed check-in procedures
- Interview Questions
- Rubric for assessment
- Explanation of expectations
- Schedule for the event including:
- Length of interviews
- Names of students each interviewer will interview with each student’s career pathway noted
- Resumes for each of the students the interviewers will be interviewing (optional)
A reminder email is sent one week before the event and a final email a day or two before the event to remind interviewers about Mock Interview Day. Interviewers are asked to arrive 15 minutes early for a brief 10-minute verbal overview of the event. Light refreshments and lunch are provided as a way to enhance the experience for volunteers.
The Big Day
Hearts pumping and dressed for success, seniors in high school await their first interview on Mock Interview Day. Typically, each interviewer meets with 3-4 students in an hour-long class period. This allows for 12–15-minute interviews. All questions are provided for the interviewers; however, if time allows, interviewers are encouraged to engage in further career conversations with students. Student evaluations are based on responses to questions on the interview rubric form, student’s resume, non-verbal performance such as maintaining eye contact during the interview, student’s introduction, and professionalism.
Students write a personal thank you note to each of their interviewers as a post-event activity. Notes are reviewed by the classroom teacher prior to distribution to interviewers. Students and interviewers complete a short post-event feedback form. Information shared helps facilitate improvements for the following year’s Mock Interview Day.
Making a Difference in Students’ Futures
Students work hard to prepare for Mock Interview Day and serve as model school district representatives on the day of the event. Volunteers from industry make this event possible, positive, and meaningful for students. Feedback from this event continues to confirm the importance and value of Mock Interview Day, specifically the learning the students demonstrated throughout the day. Elizabeta Ilich, co-owner of Express Employment Professionals in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and returning interviewer for SLCS, made the following LinkedIn post after participating in Mock Interview Day in May 2023, “I had the honor in participating in #mockinterviews for Reading and Writing for the College Bound class at South Lyon Community Schools. I am always impressed by these students with their drive and confidence. I don’t think I could have done this when I was 17/18!” (Ilich, 2023). Consistent positive feedback each year from interviewers and interviewees in post-event surveys confirm that Mock Interview Day makes a difference!
Ilich, E. (2023, May 17). MBA. LinkedIn. Retrieved November 2, 2023, from https://www.linkedin.com/feed/hashtag/?keywords=mockinterviews&highlightedUpdateUrns=urn%3Ali%3Aactivity%3A7066413751310168064
Michigan Department of Education. (2011). Michigan K-12 Standards: English Language Arts. Retrieved November 2, 2023, from https://www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/mde/Literacy/Content-Standards/ELA_Standards.pdf?rev=0f76588bc2bd48f89165484fa35d2b31
U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Employee Tenure in 2022. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/tenure.pdf
Ann Couyoumjian, M.A., is a high school Career Development Facilitator in South Lyon, Michigan. Ann has over 25 years of experience in education in various Pre-K through college positions. She experienced marketing and management positions in her previous business career. Ann finds inspiration helping students with their career development, encouraging students in their ongoing reflective practice to realize and further develop their interests, abilities, and values, and find purposeful pursuits. Ann holds a M.A. in Education, B.S. in Education, and B.S. in Business Administration. She can be reached at email@example.com
Richard Grieves. A high school teacher and former department chair of English, Latin, and History since 1981, Richard Grieves has taught every high school course, remedial through AP Level, in all three of those departments. He is co-author or author of several district assessments and was an editor for the ELA Benchmarks for the State of Michigan. A proud CMU Chippewa, Richard holds a B.A. in English, Sociology, and Latin, with extensive graduate work in English. His credo: LABOR! (Let Achievement Be Our Reward!). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Miloch, is a high school Career Development Facilitator in South Lyon, Michigan. Jane was the first Career Development Facilitator in the district and has grown the program for the past 22 years. Prior to her current role, Jane worked in Sales, Marketing, and customer service, giving her many of the tools needed to assist students and staff with a variety of career readiness activities. Jane finds working with students individually, providing career exploration opportunities and encouraging students to be the most rewarding career she could have chosen. Jane studied Interpersonal and Public Communications, Marketing and Psychology at Central Michigan University, earning her a Bachelor of Science degree. She can be reached at email@example.com