For students, practice makes perfect with simulated interview tool

March 9, 2021

Big Interview is helping La Salle students sharpen their interview skills.

An impressive résumé, applicable work experience, and astute networking can help job seekers get a foot in the door. That can be for naught, however, if a first-round interview is lackluster.

Making a positive first impression in an introductory interview is a crucial first step in landing a job. La Salle University has introduced a virtual job interview tool to its students called Big Interview, to better prepare them for interviews with simulated experiences.

La Salle’s Career Center procured and introduced Big Interview during the fall semester in a pilot program for a 200-level course in the School of Business. Since, it has been implemented into four sections of the class for the spring semester and incorporated into assignments by faculty in the nursing, public health, and computer science programs.

All La Salle students, regardless of their major, have access to the tool. And Career Center director Nicole Bailey said it is important for both La Salle students and faculty across all areas of study to realize the benefits of using Big Interview.

“Students preparing to interview for internships, field placements, or full- or part-time jobs can find out what it’s really like to interview virtually from their residence hall or home,” said Bailey. “For faculty, there are plenty of opportunities to create an assignment by incorporating the interviewing curriculum found in Big Interview into their syllabi. The world of recruiting has been shifting. I anticipate that virtual interviewing will be prevalent from now on.”

Among Big Interview’s features is the ability for students to record themselves answering standard first-round interview questions such as, “Tell me about yourself?” and “What should I know about you?” In addition, Big Interview challenges students to perform a self-assessment and allows them to edit and share recordings of their mock interviews as a measure for gaining feedback from fellow students, faculty, and staff.

Elizabth Schroeder serves as director of the business leadership fellows program in La Salle’s School of Business. She oversaw the Big Interview pilot program, and sees use of the tool as an opportunity for students to fine-tune their job interviewing skills and put them into practice.

“I like to tell students that interviewing is essentially like strength training,” said Schroeder. “You have to work on building that muscle over time. This experience that you gain with Big Interview, and having the ability to do it in your home, in your free time, or in the classroom, will help you build that skill of selling yourself while interviewing, which is a lifelong art. That skill will always have value.”

A participant in the pilot program, Julia Witoshkin, ’23, found Big Interview helpful in developing her interviewing skills. She said it’s fairly user-friendly, too.

“I think Big Interview has set me up for success in future interviews, whether they will be online or in person,” said Witoshkin, a double-major in finance and marketing. “The program has allowed me to analyze my strengths and weaknesses in interviewing and pinpoint how to improve. The tool is easy to navigate, with easy-to-understand instructions regarding technical issues. I really enjoyed that all of my past practice interviews were included in one page and that I could re-watch and grade myself on them.”

Customization in Big Interview is key. La Salle students and faculty can tailor interview questions to specific industries and positions. During the pilot program, Schroeder said students interviewed for hypothetical positions at Amazon that were tailored to the business systems and analytics, marketing, and accounting and finance majors.

Students: Learn more about Big Interview, including how to register.

Going forward, Schroeder hopes to implement some of Big Interview’s artificial intelligence-based features—like its ability to grade a student’s eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and wardrobe. Industry, specifically among large corporations, is trending toward A.I.-based, pre-recorded video interviews. Schroeder said it’s critical for La Salle students to succeed in this emerging platform.

“It’s the reality of the job interview landscape, whether we agree with it or not,” said Schroeder. “So much artificial intelligence is being built into these recorded interviews and I think students are floundering in this setting if they are without preparation.”

Ultimately, Schroeder sees Big Interview benefitting La Salle’s students beyond a simple enhancement of their job interview skills.

“It can also help with graduate school interviews and (students’) gaining confidence in marketing themselves and advocating for themselves,” said Schroeder. “This tool can allow our students to improve in connecting the dots between who they are in their personal brand and what they’re communicating professionally.”

—Patrick Berkery