Most universities don’t have enough career counselors to serve their student body. That’s a fact.
Having worked with hundreds of higher ed institutions, we have repeatedly heard of similar challenges most of them face. Such as:
- “We have no tools and a very small staff.”
- “We need to diversify our content depending on the career goals of each student, as well as handle the number of resume review requests coming in.”
- “It’s hard to get to everything and do it well.”
University of North Texas knows a little bit about that. They went from struggling to juggle a student body of 40 thousand to being a pioneer for professional communication in the higher education space.
We spoke with Melaine Pounds, Senior Associate Director of the Career Center, and Brian Hirsch, Senior Associate Director and Career Coach for the College of Business, to learn more about how UNT transformed their career readiness services.
“I get the most feedback from students about that [the Big Interview mock practice tool]. That it was really helpful, that it was good to go in and practice. And they don’t have to go in and do this with a real person, they can do it here [in Big Interview].” — Melaine Pounds, UNT Career Center Senior Associate Director
Want to reach more students with your career services? Our career training tool helps students craft their first resumes, teaches them how to answer any interview question that could be thrown at them, and trains them to nail their delivery through mock interview practice. Everything students need to succeed in their job search (and can be used both independently and with guidance).
The Challenge: Helping 40k Students with Only a Handful of Advisors
In 2016, University of North Texas was seeing their admissions continue to increase, reaching almost 40 thousand students. But they had trouble managing career readiness for all of them.
Before using Big Interview, much like most university career centers, the only thing they were offering was for students to come in for mock interviews with career advisors.
But these interviews didn’t seem very productive because students had never practiced before so they struggled with even the most basic elements of job interviewing. As a result, it was difficult to go beyond the obvious in the one on ones and provide actionable feedback tailored to each student’s unique needs and career aspirations.
To leverage their career services to a campus this size, they started looking for tools to reach more students and develop their interview skillset.
How UNT Scaled Their Career Services with Big Interview
University of North Texas uses Big Interview for 3 main reasons:
- Automating mock interview practice so it’s available to all students, whether they come for in-person practice or not.
- Building students’ confidence and professional communication skills with resume, cover letter, and elevator pitch creation.
- Creating specific mock interviews for various needs, like business school students looking for their first jobs.
Mock interview practice available to all students
At UNT, they give students access to Big Interview to let them prepare and practice on their own before coming in to do an in-person mock interview with a career counselor. This ensures they are making the most out of precious one-on-one time between advisors and students, so they can focus on deeper issues than filler words and eye contact.
Other than being available for any student wanting to prepare for an interview, University of North Texas also includes Big Interview mock interview practice within their courses.
Introducing students to career readiness in their first days
“We start from the very first time they step on campus and get them to talk about careers and what they will need for that.” says Pounds.
UNT includes career preparation talks in their orientation, but they go beyond this to prepare students in a way most other universities haven’t done yet.
They have Professional Communication classes for first-year and second-year students to help them create resumes and cover letters, prepare for internship interviews, and improve their professional communication overall.
With Big Interview, students can do a self reflection on all of their interview answers.
We specifically have the options to rate how well they they answered the question, if they convey relevant qualifications, do they communicate enthusiasm, how concise their answers are, are they using to manny filler words, how clearly they speak, if they maintain steady eye contact, and if they use appropriate body language.
And there is also an option to leave themselves notes for each response.
As for the UNT Business School, their students also use Big Interview in a third-year class. In this case, it’s for a particular set of students, business students that will be graduating next year, so they created a custom set of questions for them.
This ensures their students are getting the exact content they need to succeed in their interviews, instead of a general set of questions that would only help them in the first round of interviews.
And to make sure students have completed this, students need to share the URL to view their interview answers in a Canvas assignment.
But University of North Texas doesn’t plan to stop here. They’ve gotten some great feedback from both students and counselors and are now designing a third and fourth-year Professional Communication course.
The Impact on Students and School Administrators
But this feedback isn’t only on the student side.
The faculty teaching in courses and at the career center are now able to help all 47 thousand University of North Texas students. And focus on providing more valuable feedback when they do get to see them in person.
Want the same tools UNT is using to serve so many students? Schedule a tour!
Want to help your students prepare for interviews? There are 3 ways we can help: