Mock interviews, real businesses

Students seeking a competitive edge in entering the job market could find assistance at VCU’s Career Center.

The center’s yearly Behavioral Interviewing Program allows Richmond-area professionals to conduct mock interviews with students.

In behavioral interviewing an interviewer asks questions that call for situational or anecdotal answers. Some employers use the technique to predict productivity based on previous behaviors.

“I took time from my routine workday to participate, and it was definitely time well spent,” said Loren Hatcher, director of development for the Historic Richmond Foundation.

Interviewers from 20 businesses and state agencies participated in the program this year, including Target, Philip Morris, the Virginia Housing Development Authority and nonprofit organizations.

Before the interviews, John Lawrence, a vice president for McKesson Medical-Surgical Corporation, conducted a workshop to inform participants of what they could expect.

“The goal was to prepare the students (for the mock interviews),” said Darlene Ward, a Career-Center counselor. “There’s such a diverse group of students that attended the function. There are students that don’t even know what behavioral interviewing is, so they’re attending to just get information … They want to get tips from professionals like John Lawrence. They want to get any tip that helps them to stand out from all of the competition that they have to deal with when they interview.”

Students signed up for one-hour-interview slots on a first-come first-served basis. Ward said all interview slots were filled within six hours.

“When I put the sign-up sheet out … at 8 o’clock in the morning there was already a line of students waiting. The program was full probably by 2 o’clock,” Ward said. “For it to be full on the same day, it just shows you that the program is spreading.”

During the three-day workshop, Richmond professionals interviewed more than 100 students dressed in professional attire with resumes on file.

“It’s a good way for me to put my students, my strong students … all students in front of employers,” Ward said. “So, my students are using this as a networking tool. My recruiters are using this, of course, as a recruiting tool as well, although it’s all under the auspice of practice.”
Hatcher of the Historic Richmond Foundation said she also recognized the networking possibilities of the workshop.

“I wanted to give back, but I also wanted to see what VCU had to offer our organization,” Hatcher said. “We’ve had several VCU students intern … and we’re constantly looking for different students from different backgrounds and different fields of study.”

Some participants said the program impressed them.

“It’s great,” said Xianyong Zeng, an information-systems major said he modified his r

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