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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC’s Madera campus helps local high school with mock job interviews

November 5, 2018

Job interviews can sometimes feel like a fast walk through a land mine full of questions and hypothetical situations. SJVC has found that one of the best ways to prepare is with interview practice.

“Every single student in each module participates in mock job interviews given by our leadership management team and peer mentors who have had training,” says Raul Ponce, Business Administration instructor on the Madera campus. “We initiated these mock interviews in 2015 for students about to graduate who needed practical skills and knowledge for their upcoming job search and interviews.”

Since then, the training has grown in scope and frequency. “Our mock interviews are an all-day training conducted with each student the third week of every module – every five weeks,” says Raul. “We constantly groom our students for that important event in their lives.”

Madera South High School (MSHS) also provides mock interview training for seniors about to graduate, and SJVC recently participated in their half-day sessions.

“We wanted to give back to the community and volunteered to be part of their effort to help seniors,” says Raul. “It would also give us a chance to expose our local high school to San Joaquin Valley College.” Representatives from other local businesses participate, as do retired teachers and retired politicians. Exposure to these other businesses might also spark employment interest among SJVC student participants.

Raul and two well-trained SJVC student volunteers took part in the annual MSHS senior training exercise. “Each of us practiced with between six to eight high school seniors, using a list of approximately eight questions an employer might ask,” says Raul. Interviewee responses might trigger a follow-up question or send the questions into a different direction. “We might go off script and ask them something else, depending on their answers.” That spontaneity keeps all participants engaged and alert.

At the end, each interviewee scored an exemplary, pass, or needs improvement. Anyone who does not score in the first two categories must repeat the exercise at a later date.

Each high school interview practice is one-on-one and lasts between eight and twelve minutes, plus feedback time. “The last MSHS graduating class was over 600 students, and it took almost 20 volunteers over three days to complete the process,” says Raul. “We consider this to be a field trip for our students that will give them educational advantages in practicing their own interviewing skills.”

SJVC Madera’s Career Services department implements well-honed job search and interview training for those students about to complete their Medical Assisting, Medical Office Administration and Business Administration programs.

Mock interviews have several purposes: “We want to give the student who will be looking for a job a real-world experience,” says Raul. “We want practice to make them more comfortable talking instead of being robotic in their responses. We want them to know the questions they need to ask and the ones that should be postponed to a second interview – or never asked.”

Tips on Questions to Ask During a Job Interview

What kinds of questions should the job applicant not ask until the second-level interview? “Don’t ask about pay or when and how much time off you will get,” cautions Raul. What is appropriate to ask? “Questions about what a typical day looks like in your office, whether it’s fast-paced or slow-paced, or approximately how many customers or patients you will interact with each day, are appropriate,” he says.

SJVC’s Career Services provides students with important information and instruction in writing resumes, internet job search, video presentations/resumes, online video interviews and networking. “We want to get them exposed to speaking out loud and in front of somebody they might not be comfortable with, and help them get over pre-interview nervousness,” says Raul.

Many students volunteer to participate in job interviewing training at their local high school to accumulate community service hours toward various certificates and awards, including SJVC’s Founders Award.

The working population enjoys many different jobs throughout their lives, so job search and interview skills have a very long service value.