Conestoga Students Practice Interview Skills with Cutting-Edge Simulation Training

By Conestoga College Modified on July 05, 2024
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Conestoga students will be able to work on their interviewing skills through an immersive simulation that offers personalized feedback.

 Conestoga Students Practice Interview Skills with Cutting-Edge Simulation Training

A pilot project launched by Conestoga College’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab (VARLab) will allow students to work on their interviewing skills through an immersive simulation that offers personalized feedback.

Helping students practice realistic interview situations

The Bodyswaps pilot project is designed to empower students with the confidence and ability needed to give an exceptional and strong interview. Students in one of the college’s Career Development courses during the winter 2024 term will have access to this cutting-edge training that is available by desktop, mobile phone, and VR headset.

Realistic simulations and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled feedback allow learners to practice — and make mistakes — in a safe environment, preparing them to apply newly acquired skills in real-life interactions confidently.

“This type of setting is crucial when supporting students to hone skills that are associated with high interpersonal risk, such as public speaking or conflict resolution, without the fear of judgment. The technology encourages students to extend beyond their comfort zones at their own pace,” said Kirsten McKinnon, professor of Career Development in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Advantages to Bodyswaps

Bodyswaps provides a unique opportunity for learners to see themselves in action by making it possible to watch their interviews from the viewpoint of others playing a role in the interaction. During the pilot, students will have an opportunity to use the virtual-reality experience for a mock interview assignment in which they will respond to different interview questions.

“We see how important it is to offer students a range of choices in terms of how to access this content,” said Russell Foubert, director, DLX Technology & Innovation. “Choice of how to engage with this content is very important. Putting on a VR headset is something that very few of us have ever done, so having choices about when/where to engage with that activity is going to help ensure good adoption of Bodyswaps.”

Interview questions include the often-dreaded behaviour-based questions, such as “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a manager and how you handled it” or “Describe a time you took a risk and how it turned out.” These behaviour-based questions can be tough because they require someone to recall specific instances and articulate the context, actions, and results effectively and confidently.

One big advantage of the experience is feedback that’s comprehensive and practical. Students will receive personalized AI-enabled feedback about their pace of speech, use of filler words, eye contact and body language. Feedback specific to their interview responses will be offered, along with model answers. There’s also the option to practice strategies to reduce anxiety. In the pilot, the technology will be complemented by assignments designed for self-examination and critical reflection, encouraging transformative learning experiences, McKinnon said.

“Empowering students to identify and refine their skills independently is preparing them to grow and evolve within an increasingly complex work world, ensuring they can meet the demands and optimize opportunities of the career that lies ahead.”

Following a successful pilot, Bodyswaps will continue to be rolled out to students in Career Development courses in spring 2024 with plans to increase its availability to a greater number of students in fall 2024.

The School of Interdisciplinary Studies prepares graduates for today’s global economy. Courses and programs have been designed to build skills essential to operations of effective workplaces through language, communication and liberal studies, and with practical experience through real-world, hands-on learning.

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