Using VoiceThread to Help Students Prepare for Interviews

This is a guest post by Instructor and VoiceThread Certified Educator, Dr. Kathy Melago.


With modern technology, the job interview process frequently begins with a phone or video interview. As the head of our music education program, I work closely with our students as they look for jobs and prepare for interviews. While I have conducted live mock interviews in the past, one thing I had not done previously was to help students practice phone and video interviews, yet those are usually the screening interviews that actually get applicants to the in-person interviews. VoiceThread was the perfect tool for me to practice phone and video interviews with my students.

For my capstone project in the VoiceThread Certified Educator program, I created a VoiceThread for my current student teachers to practice both phone and video (Skype, FaceTime, etc.) interviews. While the VoiceThread I created here is geared toward the music education job search, it could easily be used as a model for other fields.

Please note that for privacy reasons, this VoiceThread does not include the student responses:


Each student under my supervision for student teaching was required to participate in the VoiceThread. After answering the two interview questions with comment moderation enabled, the students received feedback from me and from John Snyder, the associate director of our university Office of Career Education and Development. We gave our feedback in threaded (not private) comments to each student and then I removed comment moderation so all participants could learn from the interview question responses given by their peers and from the feedback given by Mr. Snyder and me. The students were encouraged to provide additional feedback to their peers via VoiceThread.

Some key features that made this VoiceThread close to an authentic interview process are:

* I used comment moderation so the students could not hear what others had said and allow what they had heard to influence their responses.

* I set the settings to prevent the students from being able to delete their own comments. I did this because in an interview setting, the first response will be the one that counts.

* I had the students use the phone-in comment option to practice answering a phone interview question. I did that because sometimes, people are not aware of the quality (or lack thereof) of the phone they use in an interview or what it will be like to hold a phone or use a hands-free device during an interview.

* I had the students use the video comment option to practice answering a video interview question so we could also give feedback about camera quality, background, lighting, and other relevant issues.

I was pleased to see that the student teachers took this assignment very seriously, dressing professionally for the video interviews and giving well-prepared responses to the questions. I believe that the feedback Mr. Snyder and I provided to the students was useful to them and hopefully helped them avoid some of the typical stumbling blocks people face in their first interviews. Finally, conducting this VoiceThread interview practice early in the spring semester enabled the students to get a head start on preparing to answer interview questions. VoiceThread was the perfect tool to help me take my ability to mentor my students through the job search process to the next level by using the features I mentioned above to give them mock interview practice and it was easy to accomplish. A win-win for everyone!



About the author: Dr. Kathy Melago is associate professor of music education at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where she has served as the head of the music education program since 2009. She actively seeks creative ways to teach music online and uses those ideas in her face-to-face and online classes. Kathy is a VoiceThread Certified Educator.