Organizing and presenting an interview skills workshop for students is a great way to provide students with the opportunity to learn what skills they’ll require in order to complete successful interviews at academic institutions, future internships, and workplaces. Similar to an essay workshop for students, interview skills workshops help students understand and acquire knowing by doing. They’ll learn what is expected of them in professional settings, how to navigate specific questions, and be given the opportunity to receive and provide feedback.
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Whether you’re thinking of a group of high school students, or thousands of undergraduates who are preparing for a future in academia, ensuring that they have professional, well-established interview skills can help assure they’re prepared for interviews of all varieties. Being prepared for each interview is key, no matter if it’s being conducted to assess academic competency, or, to gauge how well the student can perform in a professional role. However, if a student lacks experience with interviews, they may not have the confidence or knowledge required that will allow them to get through an interview smoothly. A certain level of professionalism must be upheld, and students must learn how to best respond to questions and complete even the most intense interviews with ease. This can be taught to students in just a few hours in an interview skills workshop, offered through their university or university partnerships, that is conducted by a group of experienced professionals.
BeMo offers interview coaching and personalized, one-on-one interview skills workshops through our university student benefits program. Students can take advantage of expert coaching, anytime and anywhere, to brush up on their interview skills for competitive admissions, such as medical school or law school, or to prepare them for future job interviews. This program is offered through our university partnerships with educational institutions, so that students can find the help they need and universities can increase student enrollment and retention.
Why Interview Skills Are Important for Students
It's important to note that interview skills are not innate for everyone. Some people are confident and articulate from the start and seem to have a knack for strong conversations and communicating with strangers in a variety of settings. Other people may need a little help finding their voice, may feel intimidated in interviews, and may simply lack the experience that would have otherwise helped them prepare adequate responses and present with confidence. Regardless of a student’s experience or personality type, interviews can be learned and improved upon with some practice and guidance.
If students are looking at attending graduate school or another professional program—such as nursing, law or medicine—having strong interview skills is imperative in order to secure admission into these programs and stand out during any mandatory interviews. And, even if your students aren’t interested in pursuing advanced degrees right now, certain undergraduate programs may require interviews, or have internship opportunities that do. Even in workplaces, staff and interns may require interviews in order to grow within an organization, or, as a part of their role. Along with this, study abroad programs often require applicants submit a statement of intent or attend a virtual interview. Teaching students how to present themselves well during the entire interview process can definitely bump their application up above those who are unable to communicate well or construct insightful, clear responses to any interview questions.
Lastly, interview skills are essentially a life skill. When one person succeeds by landing a dream job or admission to their first-choice program, it has a domino effect in that their instructors, future colleagues and support system succeed as well! As noted, some people may naturally conduct themselves well and exceed expectations in interviews, but many will not. Learning how to interview well is not only important for an academic future, but for a future of employment as well. Even if your students feel they will pursue an entry-level job, in any field, interviews are conducted to assess the skills and qualities of each potential candidate. Having great interview skills as an adult hoping to obtain employment in any field, and/or attend specific academic programs, is essential. You can help each of your students improve their interview skills and achieve their goals by offering an interview skills workshop at your school, institution, workplace, agency, or really anywhere you’d like to conduct one.
How Interview Skills Workshops Can Be Beneficial To All Students
Interview workshops are a great way to help students prepare for both academic and professional interviews. They teach invaluable skills that students can utilize through their professional and academic careers, and is often presented in a fun way with opportunities to practice what they’ve learned. For students who need to refresh their interview skills, learn tips for interviewing in a specific field or, learn how to interview altogether, a workshop is an effective way to encourage learning, constructive feedback, and practicing of the skills.
An interview workshop can be put on by a school or a specific faculty or group within an institution. Some workshops may be a single day, or a few hours, in duration, where others may span over a few different sessions as a workshop series. Workshops can be held virtually, as well as in person, however in person workshops are certainly most authentic in that they allow students the opportunity to practice their skills face-to-face with either a workshop instructor or a peer, much like they would in a real interview. Interview workshops for students offer them the benefit, and excitement, of learning among a group of like-minded peers and are typically more effective than reading a book or watching a video about interviewing would be. Your workshop can include informative portions, where students are listening and taking notes, as well as practice portions, where students will be able to practice a skill and ask questions. Students will also have the opportunity to be presented with mock scenarios and observe others—either workshop leaders or volunteers—and apply what they’re learning, as well as any feedback, to future interviews.
Some students may need a lot of practice to hone their speaking and communication abilities in a 1-on-1 professional setting, whereas others may only need to fine-tune their responses and work on their posture or gestures during an interview. No matter where each student stands, interview skills workshops can be beneficial in many ways, as they help prepare students for future interviews of any kind and allow them the appropriate setting, and feedback, necessary to practice and master their skills.
What Can Be Covered in An Interview Skills Workshop for Students?
Your workshop may be three hours in duration with thirty students in attendance, or, may be a series that spans several hours over the course of a day or two and include a few hundred undergraduates! Hiring a company like BeMo Academic Consulting to conduct your interview skills workshop means you’ll have materials and resources designed by professionals, and specifically for students who are applying to undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.
An interview skills workshop should always cover the basics of the interview—what to expect, how to respond to questions, what to wear—but could also explore specific skills that are more program or field-oriented. For example, an interview skills workshop for students who wish to pursue nursing may be quite different from one for students pursuing law. Regardless of your group, an interview skills workshop should also include time for questions, practice, and evaluation. With professionals from services like BeMo Academic Consulting conducting your interview skills workshops, students will get the opportunity for 1-on-1 evaluation, mock interviews, and will learn from experts who have helped thousands of students prepare for the same types of interviews. As an organizer, you’ll be able to rest-assured that your students will acquire all that they need to know (and more!) about interview skills.
Some important segments and components of an interview that can be covered in an interview skills workshop include:
#1 Before the interview preparation
Students need to know that it's important to be prepared to answer questions that are both personal and professional in nature. Ideally, they should be encouraged to research about the specific field or program they’re applying for. They should keep their clear objective in mind and know how to identify their professional goals and values as they relate to the position promptly, if asked.
The following can be presented as ‘first-steps’ during the preparation process:
- Whether interviewing for a program or an internship position, students must research the industry and company, or, the school and program thoroughly. Understand the organization’s values and mission, and remember anything unique that may help them craft an answer to questions such as, “why this program?” or “what makes you want to intern here?”
- Students must know what specific challenges that their chosen profession is facing today. For example, diversity and inclusion in medical school, as well as stress and workload management, are ongoing challenges for medical students and the medical field as a whole. Not only should students understand the challenge, but also have an idea of how they would approach and combat it.
- Students must always review the program/job description and qualifications before the interview. This may seem obvious, but it’s imperative that students know what exactly they’re interviewing for, and what qualities/skills they possess that will benefit them in their experience.
#2 Understanding individual strengths and weaknesses
If a student isn’t familiar with interviewing, being asked what their individual strengths and weaknesses are may catch them off guard, throw off their thought pattern, and elicit a mundane or confusing response. Knowing one’s individual strengths, and a few weaknesses related to the program or position being applied for, can be advantageous!
During a workshop, students can be instructed to list a few weaknesses they have, and be prepared to discuss how they’ve overcome it, or are actively taking steps to improve. Students can also be encouraged to note their biggest strengths, and understand how to discuss them if prompted.
A great example of how to respond to the question, “Tell me about some of your greatest strengths and weaknesses” is:
“My greatest strength is my overall collaboration skills. I’ve been complimented on my ability to communicate and collaborate exceptionally well during group projects, as well as on recreational teams. I enjoy leading, and I’ve been successful in doing so as a Teaching Assistant, but I also value active listening and asking the right questions. As for my greatest weakness, I have been guilty of being too self-critical, and as a result, spending too much time on specific details of a project or task ensuring everything is perfect. I’ve grown to realize that this behavior is destructive and driven by fear of letting others down. It also means I’m spending unnecessary time and energy obsessing on perfection, so, over the past year I’ve kept a written schedule nearby whenever I’m working on tasks or projects. I follow schedules strictly, and this has allowed me to alter my thought pattern and focus on the final product more than the finnicky details!”
This response is positive, detailed-yet-concise, and does not leave much room for additional questions, meaning the interviewer should find it sufficient and continue to ask any other questions. This type of response shows that the interviewee is prepared, and, that they know themselves well enough to be certain of their strengths and weaknesses, and can share with confidence what steps they’ve taken to address their weakness. Students should be taught not to boast, but to highlight their strengths honestly, and even briefly mention praise from others or examples that exhibit their strength.
In general, students should be instructed to avoid overly negative responses, and this can be discussed in a workshop, and pointed out to students during a mock interview. For instance, even if a student feels their weakness is their tendency to be late on a regular basis, the fact that they’ve failed at a few jobs in the past, or are generally avoidant of conversations, these things should not be stated in an interview. Instead, students should be encouraged to focus on a flaw or quality of theirs that is malleable, doesn’t make them look like less of an appealing candidate, and can be improved over time.
Finally, responses should not be too brief! Stating, “My strength is that I work well in groups, my weakness is that I’m hard on myself at times” certainly summarizes the above example well, but interviewers will likely want their candidate to provide an example and elaborate for the sake of their understanding, and to ensure the student is being genuine with their response.
#3 Pre-interview assessment
Many people do not realize that their interview begins the moment they arrive on the property, whether it’s a campus, or an office building. If the interview is virtual, their correspondence leading up to the video call, and their behaviour in the waiting area before the call starts may be assessed. This can be emphasized and covered thoroughly in any interview skills workshop.
Appearance and actions speak louder than words, and these are the first impressions the students will give at each interview they attend throughout their lives. Somebody may interview well, but present in sloppy attire, or conduct themselves poorly, which could decrease their chances for consideration. Additionally, upholding a personal and professional standard, and reputation, is key in academia and the professional world.
Students must be urged to be on time, dress appropriately, be polite and patient, and demonstrate appropriate body language.
#4 General best practices
Students should review and understand the following universal best practices for any kind of interview:
- Arrive early. Never late, or just on time. Usually, arriving 10 minutes before the scheduled interview time is preferred by many employers and admissions teams
- Hydrate, visit the bathroom, and try focus and breathing exercises to calm any nerves before the interview; the last thing anyone wants to do is to have to excuse themselves
- Greet everyone, even the receptionist or another interviewee, politely and with smile, because this shows confidence and professionalism
- Speak clearly and be patient at all times
- If asked to wait, sit or stand comfortably. Never look at phones or fidget uncomfortably.
- If offered a water or a refreshment, politely decline or accept the offer, but never ask for anything to eat or drink unless offered!
- Dress to impress. Overdressing is always better than underdressing, but in general, reviewing the program or company website beforehand, and even doing a bit of research, can help paint a picture of what level of formality is expected. Clean and neatly ironed attire that is workplace/school appropriate is essential.
- Always make eye contact, pay attention, and listen carefully. Accept handshakes, and be responsive. Never interject, but if accidental interruptions occur, apologize and invite the interviewer to continue
- Even if the interview appears laid back and passive with their body language or spoken language, always remain professional
- Hygiene and body language are, at times, hard to correct. Try to ensure oral and body hygiene is up to standard. Never wear strong perfumes and stay mindful of body language.
#5 Prepare answers for essential questions, such as, “why do you want this job/why do you want to be in this program?’
“Why do you want this job?” or, “why do you want to be a part of X program?” will very likely be asked in any interview. And, these types of questions can make-or-break the interview and the final decision that is made afterward.
Students can, and should be taught how to answer this question in a way that demonstrates their passion and commitment to the role/program, and how they are eager to achieve their goals. Just as students may initially say too little, or, the wrong thing, such as, “I want this job/internship to earn money” or, “I want to be in this program because it’s a tradition in my family”, students may also say too much!
Less is more here, and interviewers are not looking for a list of reasons when they ask this question. Students should take the time to review the program/job/internship they are applying for, and take note of any qualities or skills that were listed as values, or as an asset in the job description. Using 2-3 of these qualities or skills in their response is key. For example, a student could say, “I want this job because I’m passionate about X industry and feel this position gives me ample opportunity for growth and collaboration. I admire your company because of your commitment to diversity and inclusion, and feel, given my communication abilities and academic background that focused on X, I’d be an asset to your team. I’m dedicated and eager to learn, and this is an opportunity where I’d get to do just that!”
If students are not sure why they are seeking a particular job, or looking to enter a specific program, this could be a sign that they are extrinsically motivated, and may need to either shift their focus to a different field, or spend more time identifying their own skills, qualifications, and goals. With 1-on-1 help from a professional during an interview skills workshop, students may be able to better understand and identify what intrinsically motivates them, and be able to better communicate this verbally.
#6 Prepare answers for all other questions, and know what to do when stuck
Students should be taught to prepare responses on a whim, if necessary, by reviewing the following during their interview workshop:
Additionally, interviewers may ask for clarity if a response is too short, or unclear. While some questions may be simple for most students to answer, some may require additional thought. Understanding and rehearsing what their strengths and weaknesses are, their future goals, their important past experiences that are related to the job, and understanding why they are seeking admission to a specific program or a position at a company can help students feel organized and confident during their interview.
#7 What to do if a question is unclear or unanswerable
There may be moments when the student blanks—either during a mock interview/workshop, or in a real interview—and an interview skills workshop can absolutely address this.
Students should be taught to remember that interviewers are human, and they are, too. Nerves can play a role in these types of scenarios, and there are also instances where a student may not understand, or have any experience, relevant to a question. Students should know that it’s okay to ask for time. By simply saying, “That’s a great question, do you mind if I take a moment to reflect before I answer?”, students can politely buy themselves a bit of time to think. Students can also ask for clarification and be honest if the question isn’t clear. In a worst-case scenario, a student can say, “I’m not entirely sure I have a good answer for that question. Is it alright if we continue, and perhaps we can revisit the question if something comes to mind?”.
In general, it’s best to at least attempt to answer all questions, especially questions related to job and academic history, personal goals and values, as well as strengths and weaknesses. While opting to skip an interview question may not be detrimental, it’s best not to get into the habit of avoiding tough questions.
Why Invest in Services to Conduct an Interview Skills Workshop?
If you’re in charge of organizing a workshop for your students, whether they’re in high school or post-secondary, hiring a company offering professional interview consulting, like BeMo, can make conducting your workshop a seamless process. It can be overwhelming for a few staff members with mixed experiences teach students all that they need to know about interviews in one afternoon, or even in several sessions. With services that specifically focus on academic admissions consulting, helping students master interviews are an everyday component of their work and company mission!
BeMo Academic Consulting can help students learn how to utilize and enhance their interview skills as they head toward college or graduate programs, and can also help them further organize responses for critical interviews and assist with law school interview prep, how to prepare for an MBA interview, and how to approach critical thinking nursing school interview questions. Because professional services work with thousands of students in similar settings everyday, your students will benefit from being able to engage in various exercises, mock interviews, and learning material curated by experts.
1. Why are interview skills important for students to learn?
Interview skills are invaluable and can help students in their academic careers, as well as their professional ones. Interview skills do not come naturally to everybody, and often develop with experience. However, if a student hasn’t had the chance to attend many interviews in their past, they may not have the practice necessary to fine-tune their skills.
2. What is an interview skills workshop?
An interview skills workshop provides students with the experience to learn about what skills are required in order to have a successful interview, and what interviewers are generally looking for in a candidate. Workshops can be comprised of learning by observing/listening to valuable information, and by activities, as well as mock interview sessions. Many institutions can benefit from hiring professional preparatory services, such as BeMo Academic Consulting, to conduct their interview skills workshop and allow students to get the most out of their workshop experience!
3. What kind of students can benefit from an interview skills workshop?
Many kinds of students would benefit from attending an interview skills workshop! This includes high school students who may be looking to obtain their first jobs or internships, and, who may be planning on attending a post-secondary program that requires interviews. Post-secondary students will also benefit from attending an interview skills workshop, especially if they have their sights set on a graduate program, a professional program, or an internship in their near future—most of which require an interview of some form before being considered!
4. How to organize an interview skills workshop?
Once you’ve gathered some numbers and understand how many students may be interested in conducting your workshop, decide on a few ideal days and times, and begin to research and see what workshops currently exist that will benefit your students, and take the stress off of you as the organizer! If you’re interested in hiring BeMo to help run your next interview skills workshop, contact us here.
5. What should be covered in an interview skills workshop for students?
An interview workshop should cover both the ‘basics’, as well as additional information that is beneficial to student group specificially—for example, a group of pre-med students may require information that differs from what a group of high school-aged students would require in their workshop!
General ‘basics’ that can be covered include:
- What to do to prepare for an interview ahead of time
- First impression and interview etiquette
- How to identify personal strengths and weaknesses
- How to answer questions well, and in a timely manner
- How to answer tough questions/what to do when stumped
- The importance of manners, hygiene, clothing, good body language, authenticity and confidence
6. Can students learn this information on their own?
It’s true—students could easily look up this information, watch a video about it, or read about it in a book. However, interview skills are typically learned and improved through the action of actually being interviewed. A workshop provides students with the opportunity to ask questions, practice, observe, receive feedback from professionals, and understand their strengths and where they could improve. Most importantly, a workshop tells them how they can improve, and what is expected of them.
7. What happens if a student is struggling with a component of the workshop?
Despite their determination, some people are not naturals at interviewing! And, that’s okay. The goal of an interview skills workshop isn’t to drive students down a path of absolute perfection, but to help them hone their skills and understand what should—and should not—be said in an interview so that they can feel as confident as possible, even during stressful admissions interviews. The goal of the workshop is to provide students with the opportunity to learn about what good interview skills are, and understand how they can best respond to interview questions so that they’ll stand out to the interviewer. If students are nervous, or perhaps untalkative and uncomfortable making eye contact, a workshop can help them learn to focus on their strengths and the value of their past experiences, and do their best to make up for skills that they may need a bit more time to master.
8. What additional resources can help students prepare for academic interviews?
If there are students who are seeking additional support, you may opt to invite them to another workshop you conduct at a different time, or suggest that they further explore preparatory services, such as BeMo. Academic consulting services can help students organize responses for critical interviews, and can give them individualized attention as they prepare for their application and admissions process. Some students require additional support with interview skills, essay skills, and application organization, and that’s why services like BeMo exist, to help students on their academic journeys, so that they can accomplish their dreams and work toward their desired careers.
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