Building Oral Presentation Skills Through Interview Practice

  1. Tell me a little about yourself and your background.
  2. What are your greatest strengths?
  3. What are some of your weaknesses? (Remember: upward trajectory! View this question as an opportunity to discuss areas in which you want to improve)
  4. Why should this organization hire you rather than other candidates? What sets you apart?
  5. Why are you applying for this position? (Tip: avoid the money talk, and stick to ideas about gaining experience, building connections, etc.)
  6. Where do you see yourself in five years, and how will this position prepare you for where you see yourself at that point in your life?
  7. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  8. In what type of work environment are you most satisfied?
  9. How would a colleague or professional reference describe you?
  10. What situations are most stressful for you, and how do you cope?
  11. In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a great leader? Which of those characteristics do you embody?
  12. What questions do you have for me? (Tip: never say “none” in response to this question. You should have least one question prepared to ask your interviewer)
  • Use specific examples whenever possible. These examples help your answers come to life and make you a more memorable candidate.
  • Give detailed answers, but don’t ramble. You want quality, not quantity. Don’t respond to a question with just a word or two, but don’t yammer on and on forever. Answer the question directly, provide some detail, and make sure you know how your answer is going to end.
  • Put your best foot forward. Although you should be truthful in your answers, you also want to convince the interviewer that you would be a good fit for their organization. Therefore, stay positive. Don’t speak poorly of yourself (or others, even if a past work experience was less than ideal).
  • I should have done more modeling throughout the year. I could have done some mock interviews in front of the class in which I was the interviewee and shown the class what I was expecting.
  • I should have had students take notes as I gave them feedback. With months between assessments, some forgot what I had told them previously.
  • I should have given them more opportunities to practice their written answers out loud and given more directed feedback about what they wrote.
  • Some students forgot about their timeslot, so they weren’t prepared or didn’t come to class at all. I wasn’t sure about the best approach to this problem. I allowed students with excused absences to reschedule, but I didn’t know exactly what to do with those who came unprepared. On one hand, I wanted to communicate the importance of staying organized and remembering commitments. In that vein, I think that insisting that these unprepared students interview on their designated day anyway would be valuable. On the other hand, I don’t know how much they would learn about good interviews if they just stumbled through one unprepared. I think I’m leaning towards the first approach. At least that way, they can fail in an environment that isn’t quite “real.”
  • The whole premise of this assignment requires a lot of time in which students are working individually so that I have time to conduct individual interviews out into the hallway. I need to be able to trust that the students in the room are able to behave themselves with me out in the hallway, and there will also be a lot of stagnant class time in which the students who are in that one-on-one setting are receiving individualized feedback and education while everyone else isn’t learning much. I want to spend more class time doing dynamic activities next year, so I need to make sure that I would have enough class time to meet with every student four times.
  • Chronologically, it made sense for the culminating assessment to be in fourth quarter. However, anyone who has taught 12th graders before knows that April and May of senior year are basically lost months. Some students were checked out completely and barely came to school. Others were satisfied with their grade, so they stopped doing work. There were some students who never did their fourth quarter interview because they were fine with keeping the grade as incomplete. I wanted all of the students to undergo this meaningful fourth round, but I also wanted to keep the onus on them to sign up for their own interview. I’m not sure yet how I’ll approach this problem next year.
  • I know students will absolutely hate this idea, but I think it’d be so much fun. During grad school, my professor would put each of us in the “hot seat” in front of the entire class to answer an interview question. Then, the class would provide feedback to the person in the hot seat. I have a feeling that only the confident students who don’t need much feedback on their skills would be the ones to volunteer, though. Then again, the students might like seeing one of their peers perform well in a high-stakes setting. I hate forcing students to do anything, especially in front of an entire class. I am also not a huge fan of offering extra credit. Maybe I can incentivize volunteers with candy.



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Luc Nguyen

Luc Nguyen

High school English teacher, amateur wordsmith, and rabid sports fan. W&M alum.