“The most important thing is to instill confidence,” says Leslie Bell, associate director of the Maurice Horowitch Career Center, regarding the practice interviews she regularly conducts with Hamilton students and alumni. During practice interviews, Bell and other career counselors try to anticipate the questions students will field during real interviews with potential employers or graduate schools. The counselors video-record the process, which is open to any student or alum. “They are a great resource to take advantage of because everyone has something to gain,” Bell says.
Caitlyn Williams ’11, a neuroscience major applying to medical school, is doing a practice interview to learn in what areas she could improve. In a rigorous application process, the interview is a final step for admission. “It’s very hard to see things about yourself when someone else doesn’t point them out to you,” Williams explains.
Bell emphasizes that it’s impossible to anticipate exactly what will be asked. “Interviews are as individual as the people who conduct them,” she says, “but knowing how to conduct yourself in general in an interview will help you with every possible interview. You have control over your performance.” Bell recommends carefully thinking through responses before answering, understanding the purpose behind the question, and framing answers as if they were paragraphs with topic sentences and supporting examples.
Williams finds the process to be a very useful confidence-builder. “The mix of negative and positive feedback really helped,” she says, and she now feels more secure with the process that lies ahead: “At least I know it won’t be the first time I’ve interviewed.”