Mock Interviews Become Key Event For Students And Employers
Above and beyond helping students learn the skills of software development and data science, we help students prepare for their first tech job search. Our career preparation effort has evolved a lot over the past few years and today has many facets, including guidance on building resumes and Linkedin profiles, tips for networking and meetup recommendations, advice for working with recruiters, help with salary negotiation, and much more. One new aspect that has become very valuable not only for our students but for employers with upcoming job openings, is a highly engaging mock interview event.
When is the last time you went on a job interview? For many of our students, it’s been at least a few years. Prior experience aside, preparing for your first few tech-related job interviews is daunting. After six (full-time) to twelve months (part-time), graduates face their first interviews in a new field, including technical interviews where they are presented with challenges and are asked to demonstrate their skills. Candidates receive very little feedback after such real interviews and hence don’t know how to improve their interviewing skills. It’s also difficult for our career team to assist grads in the absence of employer feedback. Enter mock interviews.
Iterating The Mock Interview Process
We have used several approaches to expose previous cohorts to job interviewing techniques. Most recently, we would invite a few hiring managers, technical leads, or internal recruiters to interview a couple of willing students in front of the class. While everyone was able to learn from the experience, there was clearly more room for improvement.
Earlier this year our career development team tried something new. We invited enough interviewers to give each student in the cohort a chance to have a 1-1 interview to practice their skills. Not only would our students get practical experience, but they also would receive real, honest feedback to help them improve their interviewing skills.
For employers with open roles to fill, it’s a chance to meet the students before they hit the job market. For other participants, it’s a chance to practice their own interviewing skills, gain insight on the depth of knowledge our students have, and/or give back to the Nashville tech community.
After receiving positive feedback from students and interviewers about the new mock interview format, and after seeing it lead to real job interviews and job placements, we decided to make the mock interview event standard for all of our cohorts. And then our career development team went really crazy.
The Ultimate Mock Interview Event
With two web development cohorts set to graduate within the next 60 days, Cohort 29 on May 17th and Cohort 30 on June 21st, the team decided to host a mock interview event for two cohorts at once. A marathon outreach process resulted in 35 volunteers: hiring managers, technical leads, and internal recruiters. Not as big a crowd as downtown Nashville for the NFL Draft, but enough for the ultimate mock interview event!
It was amazing to see so many students, and community tech leaders all gathered and focused! It was a great experience.
I also want to highlight how well all the students were prepared. I kept hearing common themes on building self-reliance and discipline. The whole NSS crew is doing great work, and is visibly improving with each cohort! Impressive!
- Jim Siegienski, CTO, Groups360
Over 40 students received three 30-minute interviews each, resulting in 125 interviews in 3 hours! The event was so large it filled our hackery and all four classrooms. Students packed the snackery as they waited for their interviews.
For me, the mock interview event represented an opportunity to put what we've learned into words. We're so used to learning and doing at a rapid pace. Talking about code really tests how well you've learned the vocabulary associated with programming. It was a fun challenge.
- Emmett Schneider, Cohort 30
By the end of the night, each student had experienced interviews with three different interviewers and received immediate and valuable feedback. They will get additional feedback from their interviews later this week. This feedback is helpful for all of our students as they embark on their new journey as software developers. The feedback also provides insight that helps our instruction team ensure that our students are prepared technically for their first job.
The mock interview event was an extremely valuable experience for me. Through one-on-one interaction with employers, I came to understand that the skills I have developed over the last five months truly do make me a valuable asset to an organization and I gained more confidence in two hours of mock interviews than I gained in two months of coding alone. I left the event feeling like someone had given me a great gift - I know where I can continue to improve but I also know I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
- Hannah Neal, Cohort 29
I am constantly impressed by the students that are coming out of Nashville Software School and the Mock Interview event was no exception. The students I interviewed were passionate about the subject matter and engaging to talk to!
- Bryan Haddock, Solutions Architect - Quore Systems
Our directors have been impressed with the quality of candidates graduating from NSS. We find the curricula aligns closely with the technologies we and our clients use. Students are well-rounded, possessing both technical and soft skills, along with professional and problem-solving skills acquired from their work experience.
- Rob Wilson, VP - Keller Schroeder
A Great Big Thank You!
We continue to be amazed by and grateful for the generosity of the Nashville tech community. We could not create learning experiences like this for our students without you. And it’s not just Nashville. A HUGE thank you to those that traveled from out of town, and even out of state, to participate in this event!
I've been amazed so many times by the support NSS receives from the tech community in Nashville. Not only was the event helpful preparation for tech interviews, it also reignited my excitement to be a part of Nashville's supportive tech community. I can't thank our volunteers enough!
- Emmett Schneider, Cohort 30
Thank you to the following individuals and their companies that support their involvement for participating in our most recent mock interview event:
Andrew West, Billy Bratz, Bryan Haddock, Carrie Rudolph, Casey Reed*, Cathy Graper, Chance Strickland, Chase Ramsey*, Chesley Lovejoy, Colleen Woolsey, Dan Weese, David Biagi, Gene Howell, Jill Epperson, Jim Siegienski, John Loftis, Justin Hoover, Kelly Poe, Kevin Adams, Kevin Carnes, Kyle McCormick*, Linda Catlett, Matt Wilson, Mitch Karns, Pete Brumm, Rachel Werthmeier, Rob Marlow, Rob Wilson, Robert Barnard, Robin Lane, Seth Strong, Wei Wang, Will Gant