MBAs practice interviewing skills

December 21, 2012
MBA Students
Students who participated, front row: Kevin Knotts, Bingbing Xu, Kristin Potts, Sara-Anne Williams, Da Gui. Back row: Katelyn Phillips, Abigail Monson, Emily Sinkule, Venkata Kiran Chimmiri and Todd McQinn.

MBA students at the College of Business and Economics learned best practices for interviewing job seekers in a new program last semester.

The 20-hour program was designed specifically for graduate students to help them gain skills to enhance their employment opportunities, said Joyce Heames, Chair and Associate Professor of Management and Industrial Relations.

Each student who participated received a certificate in employer interviewing techniques, which Dr. Heames said will be a substantial addition to their resumes. "We are training our MBAs to excel in management positions. Hiring the right people is crucial to the success of an organization," Heames said. "The training that the MBA students received will assist in preparation for leadership positions."

Of the 20 hours, the students took nine in training that focused on behavioral interviewing techniques, which are also called experience-based or patterned behavioral interviews. This kind of interview is past-oriented, and the interviewer will ask job applicants to relate what they did in past jobs or life situations.

The idea is that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance in similar situations. By asking questions about how job applicants have handled situations in the past that are similar to those they will face on the job, employers hope to learn how they might perform in the future. Heames, who designed the program, said this technique is the most commonly used method and yields the most valid results.

During the remaining 11 hours the students learned how to screen applicants to a short list for interviews. Then they conducted 10 interviews with undergraduate students enrolled in a course that focuses on job searches and job applicant interview skills.

Rita Sailer, director of the College's Center for Career Development, said a number of participants who played the role of job applicants said "they felt much better prepared for interviewing as a result of their participation in this process."

"They have a much better understanding of what recruiters are looking for and how to respond with compelling behavioral examples that will capture the attention of the interviewer," she said.

Kevin Knotts of Keyser, W.Va., hopes to be a professor someday and said the program helped him broaden his understanding of conducting interviews. He received a degree in business management at Potomac State College in 2012.

"I learned more about the different interview techniques that recruiters use when hiring, especially information about behavioral interviews," he said. "I participated because it was a great opportunity to broaden my knowledge about interview techniques that aren't covered as much in the MBA program."

Kristin Potts of Wheeling, W.Va., received an undergraduate degree from West Liberty University in 2011. She hopes to earn a CPA and then to work for an accounting firm after her master's education. "I chose to participate in the program because, as an MBA student, it is rare to get such intensive training on how to interview," she said. "It was a very valuable learning experience, and I am sure that I will be able to use this knowledge in my future management positions."