The University Center of the Mountains (UCM) moved its mock interviews student experience
to a phone conference format on April 8 because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The UCM understands that students need to sharpen their interview skills for future employment and/or acceptance into select admissions programs. Therefore, it was important to find a new way to serve students still interested in participating in the mock interview process despite the pandemic. “Interviews can be a nerve-wrecking and intimidating process,” explained UCM’s UK partner representative Jessica Williamson. “The UCM’s Annual Interview Skills Workshop is a great opportunity for students to prepare for academic placement and job interviews. I am thankful for the UK Center of Excellence in Rural Health’s (UK CERH) partnership with the UCM, and for the opportunity to participate in the mock interview experience.”
Dr. Deronda Mobelini, UCM Executive Director, noted that the mock interviews are offered each year for students, but this spring the way the students participated was changed. “Typically we set up multiple mock committees and rooms for interviews in the UCM area, but this was not an option this year. Instead, volunteer mock interviewers individually contacted and interviewed two to three different students by phone,” she explained. “This allowed us to observe social distancing practice while also serving our students.”
Katarina Reffitt of Martin was glad to participate. “I like that I got to practice my interview skills as well as get feedback on what I need to improve,” she said. Reffitt plans to apply for work after graduation. Her career goal is in Sonography.
Another student, Madison Moore, called her mock interview experience “great” and she is thankful to the volunteers who helped her. “I feel like I’m much more prepared for an interview compared to before this! Everyone was so helpful and nice. I like that they score/grade us so we can have feedback to see what we need to improve,” she said.
Dr. Mobelini explained that a common list of interview questions and notes/ranking sheets were prepared and provided to each volunteer interviewer. Prior to the event, students were notified about who would be contacting them for the interview and they were provided with interview preparation materials, including videos on how to prepare for a phone interview, and guidelines on what to do after an interview. Students participated in two mock interviews each, and then received immediate feedback in the “debriefing” portion of the scheduled interview time. Students also had the opportunity to ask questions following the formal mock interview portion.
Besides Reffitt and Moore, other students participating were Charity Wagers, Austin Lawson, Alexandra Howard, Brooklynn Fugate, Selena Reedy, Christopher Hall, Cody Combs, Jordon Hall, Courtney Chaffins, Raven Bickford, Jeremy Sizemore, and Mariah King.
UCM partners’ representatives who served as volunteer interviewers were HCTC faculty and staff members Ron Reed, Helen Brunty, Mavis Clemmons, Michael Combs, Amy Wernette, Madeline Flannery, Ramon Cuellar, and Melissa Vermillion. Also participating were Billie Robinson, Lindsey Wilson College’s Regional Site Coordinator, and two UK CERH employees: Jessica Williamson, Academic Coordinator for UK’s College of Social Work, and Dr. Angie Phipps, Student Affairs Officer for the UK College of Health Sciences.
Mock Interview Committee members enjoyed working with students. HCTC’s Melissa Vermillion noted, “I enjoyed hearing the passion in each student during their mock interviews. It gives me so much hope for the future of our communities. These students are working hard to earn their degrees, obtain employment, help people, and provide for their families. I am humbled to be a part of this process,” she said.
“I look forward to participating each year with UCM Mock Interviews,” Dr. Angie Phipps commented. “Helping students succeed is my mission and part of our partnership with the UCM. We are empowering students today to achieve their educational dreams with the right attitude, resources, tools and skills to make a better world for all tomorrow.”
The UCM, HCTC’s Higher Education Center, is located on the Hazard Campus of Hazard Community and Technical College. For over a decade, the UCM has continued to offer select bachelor’s/graduate degree classes on the HCTC campus. In addition, the UCM provides advising support to transfer bound students and assistance with admissions, scholarship and financial aid applications. The UCM’s purpose is to support eastern Kentucky students who wish to transfer to a four-year institution in order to purse their educational goals. The mock interview event is just one of many services provided. Anyone interested in exploring career/transfer options may contact the UCM at 606-487-3182.