Simulated job interviews provide a realistic context for developing pragmatic conversational competence. Interactions can be video-taped and jointly analyzed by the student and instructor. Through this process students receive coaching in initiating and responding to interview topics. They also develop metacognitive skills of analyzing, monitoring, and revising their messages to achieve their communicative intent.

 

The following examples show an instructor and student analyzing segments from a simulated interview that was conducted with the assistance of an interpreter. The comments provided below and the debriefing sessions illustrate the type of instructional feedback and suggestions that can be provided to improve conversational effectiveness in general and in an interview situation in particular.

 

In this segment the student took responsibility for introducing herself and the interpreter, she responded appropriately to the query "Who are you", and she used a communication strategy ("let me think for a second") that is appropriate for a job interview.

 

In this segment the student did well in answering questions about why she chose NTID and her major. The instructor can make suggestions for how the student can improve her answer by giving more details about her skill in using the software applications she named.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses

In this segment the student responded well to the query about her strengths and she turned a negative, a specification of a weakness, into a positive by showing how she's trying to make improvements. It is valuable to point out that everyone has weaknesses and an employer likes a student to demonstrate self-awareness by identifying them. It may also be valuable to point out that whereas she provided an adequate answer to the question about her strengths, she did not take advantage of the opportunity to give examples or show her work, such as a Power Point presentation available in her portfolio.

Here is an instructional segment that followed a viewing of the above segment.

 

Team Work

In answering questions, students are encouraged to give more than "yes-no" responses; they should provide details, examples or explanations.

 

Here is an instructional segment that followed a viewing of the above segment.

 

Sometimes the instructor asks questions and discusses a student's experience in order to help them find details and examples to use in answering questions. Here is another instructional segment that followed viewing of the "teamwork" segment.

 

After probing and discussion, the student should have an opportunity to again answer the original question. In this instructional segment the student is responding to the question "Why do you like teamwork?"

 

Clarifying

It is important that student's know it is acceptable and appropriate for them to use communication strategies such as asking for repetition or clarification when they do not understand questions. Here is an instructional segment that followed a viewing of the above segment.

 

Wrap-up

At the conclusion of a debriefing it is helpful to ask the student what she would do differently during the next interview. In this instructional segment, the student mentions three or four ways she could improve her next interview. Write down the student's ideas for future reference.

 

One instructional strategy is to have students watch their own and/or other student interviews and critique performance. The following excerpts from practice interviews provide examples of how review and critique can be used as an instructional strategy.

 

1. Practice providing responses that are grammatically correct

In this segment the instructor has viewed an interview with the student and is making suggestions for improvement. The instructor is focusing on changing the grammar to improve the clarity of a response.

 

2. Practice providing quality responses that are informative

In this segment an instructor is commenting on an interview and providing suggestions regarding explanations. The student is applauded for providing an explanation about the relay service instead of just mentioning it.

 

In this segment the instructor has viewed an interview with the student and is making suggestions for improvement. The instructor asks the student to elaborate a point.

 

3. Practice providing information about communication

In this segment the student responds to the question "Do you know of any problems you will encounter in communicating on a team?" Notice how the student is able to explain differences in his communication preferences and needs in 1:1, group and phone communication.

 

4. Practice questions at the end of the interview to show your interest

In this segment the student responds to “Do you know anything about our company?” and "Do you have any questions for me?" Notice that the student makes polite remarks even when he doesn’t know about the company and is able to ask two questions. His interview could be strengthened by doing research about the company and planning his questions ahead of time. He also could have suggested that the interviewer contact him by e-mail and he could have asked the interviewer for a business card. Notice, however, that he had a polite ending, shaking hands with the interviewer and thanking him.