Dental Assisting Students Practice Their Interview Skills

Mock interviews provide students the chance to work on presenting themselves as professionals

Chyd Verdier, a student in the Dental Assisting program discusses her qualifications with Jannia Louidor, Externship Coordinator in a mock job interview. These mock job interviews are a great opportunity for students to practice and also receive valuable feedback on their performance.

Orlando, FL: On Monday, February 12, the Career Services staff at the American College for Medical Careers (ACMC) helped students in the Dental Assisting program in Orlando to hone their interview skills. These 30-­ to 40-minute mock interview sessions gave students the opportunity to try out how they would speak about themselves professionally in an interview situation. This experience is helping them prepare for the “meet and greet” conversations they will be having with potential externship sites in the coming weeks.

A supportive staff

Rosanna Hiraldo, Career Services Advisor, and Jannia Louidor, Externship Coordinator, organized the interviews, which they hold just about every month with the new group of students that will soon be finishing up their coursework and heading out on an externship. They did this round of interviews with Dental Assisting students Chyd Verdier, Gloria Charles, and Nyema Christian.

Louidor, who joined the ACMC staff in early February, says that Career Services helps to prepare the students in advance for the mock interviews. “We advise them about how to dress appropriately and remind them to always bring a copy of their resume with them,” she says. But the students do not know what questions their “interviewer” will be asking on the day—just like in a real interview.

Practicing professionalism

When the students arrive in the Career Services Office on the day of their interview, they are asked to sign in. “We teach them to state who they are there to see, just as they would if they were going to an interview at an offsite location,” Louidor says. “We invite them into the office and ask them to have a seat, as though we’ve never met before.” Louidor introduces herself as the office manager, and then proceeds to spend the next 15 or 20 minutes asking the student questions they would be likely to hear. At the end of the conversation, she asks the student whether they have any questions.

Valuable feedback

Dental Assisting students Nyema Christian, Chyd Verdier and Gloria Charles all participated in mock job interview sessions. It’s an exciting time for the students as they will soon complete their coursework and be off to their externships!

Louidor says these mock interviews are a great opportunity for learning, since the Career Services staff is able to give in-depth feedback about some of the answers the students give. “For example,” she says, “I may begin by asking the student to tell me about themselves. If, in response, the student says, ‘My name is Sarah, I’m 26 years old, I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I have 2 kids,’ this is a good opportunity for me to talk about how personal information is not as relevant in this context as who you are professionally.” She might advise the student to leave out details such as her age and number of children, and instead to focus on being a student at ACMC, in the final class of her training program.

“I might also suggest to the student that, in talking about herself, she emphasize something she likes that is related to the job she’s applying for, so perhaps about how she loves working in customer service.” This gives students a lot of direction about how to develop a more professional persona, and these mock interviews with the Career Services staff are a safe place for students to try out these new ways of talking.

Louidor says an essential aspect of the feedback is telling the student what they are already doing well, but there is also usually plenty for the student to work on. This can range from details about their attire to answers to specific interview questions. Career Services encourages all the students to come back from any interview they go on and write down everything about how it went. “That way we can go over their answers with them,” Louidor says, “and help them to improve their responses to certain questions, if need be.”

Useful skills for many contexts

“These are important conversations for our students to get accustomed to having,” Louidor says, since a lot of the potential externship sites like to have a ‘meet and greet’ conversation as part of the process of deciding whether a student would be a good fit for their office. She says that the skills also come in handy when an employer visits the ACMC campus to hold on-site interviews. “We care about the students being successful,” she says, “so we do all we can to make sure they are as prepared as they can be for these interviews.”

Several dental assistant students have said that they have already benefitted from the interview practice. “Some say they were unsure beforehand how to answer certain kinds of questions,” Louidor continues, “but once they do the mock interview, they tend to remember how they answered a question, and it sticks with them if we went over how to improve their response.”

A range of support

These mock interviews are just one of the ways that Career Services helps students as they prepare to head out into the workforce after they leave ACMC. Louidor and the rest of the team also provide helpful hints in a number of areas, including in-depth workshopping of student resumes, if necessary, and “do’s and don’ts” about their attire for interviews—with suggestions about keeping uniforms clean, nails trimmed short, and nail color neutral. She notes that they offer these same services to students in the Medical Assisting and Medical Billing and Coding programs as well.

Having started at ACMC only recently, after working at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Louidor is pleased to have already developed relationships with many of the students. “I go out of my way to introduce myself to students I have not yet met,” she says, “and am in the process of looking for new potential externship sites.” She says the Career Services staff truly has an open-door policy.

ACMC students have a bright future ahead of them, given the support that exists for them in the Career Services Office and from other ACMC staff. Best of luck to all students headed out soon on externships!

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If you are looking for a dental assistant training program in Orlando, Florida, be sure to consider the American College for Medical Careers. For more about any of our professional training programs, visit us online or call (407)-738-4488. We look forward to hearing from you!