Mock interview tournament at UW Bothell

Maryanne HeinbaughBy Douglas Esser
The University of Washington Bothell combined debate-style competition with career services to create an innovative event on campus – the mock interview tournament.

Twenty-five students took part in the event May 19 at the North Creek Events Center. It was co-hosted by the UW Bothell Debate Society, the new student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and UW Bothell Career Services

It was the first SHRM club collaboration with the Debate Society and a great opportunity to practice interviewing and receive feedback from professionals, said Markus Smith, the founder and president of the SHRM club. Smith is graduating in June in media and communication studies, and in community psychology.

Partnering with the student organizations was a great approach, said Samara Reynolds, director of UW Bothell Career Services. 

“This really has been a collaborative event,“ Reynolds said. “It’s fun to try something new this year.”
Mock interviewing is an event at national speech and debate competitions in which UW Bothell students have done well, said Denise Vaughan, director of forensics, but this was new.

“I don’t know anybody else who does this, but I love this idea,” said Vaughan who hopes to make it an annual event. One of the interviewers told Vaughan he was impressed with the way the UW Bothell students came prepared and conducted themselves professionally. He also said their attitude demonstrated they were eager to learn and showed how prepared they were for the challenges of transitioning from academics to industry.

 Mock interview tournament results:
First place, tie, Aruba Baig and Ane Groth
Third place, Rijul Bhaskar
Fourth place, Yuntai Chang
Fifth place, tie, Meron Shiferaw and Jamal Howard.

In addition, there was a resume competition in the event:
First place,  Hao Vo
Second place, Tai Yang-Abreu

The tournament also was an opportunity for the interviewers, said Maryanne Heinbaugh, project developer and coach with Intern2Career, a Bothell company that works with businesses to develop paid-internship programs.

Sitting down with students “allows us to better understand what we need to do to meet them where they’re at,” Heinbaugh said. And students need interviewing skills, she said.

“Having a marketable degree and a strong GPA are important, but those alone won’t get them hired,” Heinbaugh said.

One student who spoke with Heinbaugh said mock interviews with real professionals are an opportunity to enter into the employers’ realm.

“The nice thing is trying to speak the same language the employers do,” said Stephen Johnson, an Army veteran planning to graduate next year in global studies.

The interviewers for the event were professionals volunteering from a variety of businesses and organizations. In addition to Intern2Career, there were volunteers from Microsoft, AT&T, Atos, Fastenal, Cocoon House, WorkSource Snohomish, Evergreen Health and Archbright. 

Judges asked each candidate the same questions for a clear comparison in 10-15-minute interviews. Everyone was rated on a scale of 1-100.
Stephen Johnson, Maryanne Heinbaugh
Maryanne Heinbaugh interviews Stephen Johnson. (Marc Studer photos)