So there I sit, back straight, arms to the side. I’m dressed to impress in a double-breasted dark grey suit and crimson tie. My eyes are fixed on a woman in a business suit sitting behind a desk. She smiles back at me and fidgets with a pen. I momentarily take notice of the items in her office: a painting on the wall, a plant in the corner, books on a file cabinet and a computer on the desk.
Then, the questions begin.
“Tell me about yourself?” she says.
I begin a series of stories about my life and why I think I’m the best candidate for the job. No big deal.
The remainder of the interview questions focus on personal skill sets, accomplishments, and goals; all of which I articulate into my response as to why I’m the most qualified for the position.
By the close of the interview I felt I’d aced it. I couldn’t have been any more wrong.
Some of my responses lacked content, my eyes wandered excessively and I talked too much with my hands.
The fascinating thing about this interview is that it was conducted at midnight on a Sunday from the comfort of my kitchen table. The sophisticated woman in the suit, the questions and the entire interview was fabricated—made up for practice as part of a virtual interviewing system by University Career Services.
GSU career counselors suggest that prior to entering the job market all students and alumni take advantage of the university’s Virtual Interviewing Practicing Stream or VIPS. VIPS is an innovative tool that allows you to practice your interview skills by creating a simulated interview where you’re asked challenging questions and provided an opportunity to see and hear your responses.
“It’s very important to do well in an interview,” said career counselor Nastassia Norris. “What we say in career services is that the resume will get you the interview, but the interview will get you the job, and VIPS is good practice for students to improve their interviewing skills. VIPS is an opportunity for students to see how they look from an employer’s perspective.”
VIPS can be used whenever and however often as you need in order to prepare for any employment opportunity. You have the option of choosing industry-specific questions from a selection of more than 100 questions.
After reviewing my VIPS interview with a career counselor, I discovered I wasn’t as polished as I assumed. It’s a surreal experience seeing myself in action from the vantage point of an interviewer. We recognized flaws in my delivery. During my responses I said “umm” more than 30 times.
“Additions like ‘umm’ and ‘uhh’ are all noises that we make when we’re trying to fill in time and gaps,” said Kevin Gaw, director of University Career Services. “We use them as brain connectors from one idea to the next we don’t realize it. VIPS helps students identify how to edit out the distracting utterances and fillers, and how to focus on answering the question specifically.”
VIPS is available to all GSU students and alumni and is accessible through Panther Career Net as long as you have a computer or laptop with a webcam. If you don’t have access to a webcam, you can make an appointment to use the VIPS kiosk in the career center. University Career Services recommend scheduling an appointment with a counselor prior to using the VIPS system.
It is also highly recommended that when using VIPS you dress in business attire, even if you’re at home. “When you dress up at home you are putting your mind and body into the serious mode, it’s like the real deal,” Gaw said. “This way you see yourself in the recording and evaluate yourself as a candidate. It gives you a more accurate opportunity for feedback.”
Utilizing the VIPS system has helped me become a reflective and insightful interviewee. I feel more confident, less nervous and significantly more prepared for job interviews. VIPS enabled me to identify and correct my flaws, many of which were unnoticeable to me prior to using the system.
For more information on VIPS, or other career-related issues, contact University Career Services at 404-413-1820 or give them a visit in Room 260 University Center.
Feb. 13, 2012