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Interview Skills Training In The Chemical Engineering Laboratory: Transporting A Pilot Project

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Developing Communication/Teamwork Skills in ChEs

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.796.1 - 13.796.11



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Paper Authors

author page

Julie Sharp Vanderbilt

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Interview Skills Training in the Chemical Engineering Laboratory: Transporting a Pilot Project


Engineering students entering the workforce must be prepared with excellent technical communication skills. Obtaining a desirable job requires certain skills in job search communication, one subset of which is interviewing. In addition to being prepared for the standard face-to-face interview, graduates need, now more than ever, to be prepared for the telephone interview. Companies have increased their use of the telephone interview, particularly as a first screening to select job candidates.

For the last six years, job search communication has been a part of technical communication instruction in a senior chemical engineering laboratory (ChE 229w). A new project was recently initiated to improve students’ interviewing skills, providing a transition from school to the workplace. While engineering educators have devised several ways for tapping the resource of industry, 1- 3 this project, a mock telephone interview, paired engineering students with engineering alumni in the workforce to prepare students for the job search.

This newly initiated project, conducted for two semesters currently, was adapted from a pilot project in a technical communication course (ES 210w) for all engineering majors, composed of students at all levels with the majority being juniors and seniors. The purpose was to train students in the interview process and to give them practical experience, particularly in answering behavioral interview questions by telephone. A secondary purpose was to provide opportunity for future networking with alumni should the students so desire.

This paper describes the ChE 229w mock interview project and briefly compares the current two-semester pilot project to results from four semesters of the ongoing ES210w project. The project includes students’ e-mail correspondence with alumni, an interview training workshop, an interview chart assignment for skills analysis, the telephone interview including questions and a critique, a memo summary of the interview (first semester only), and the student’s thank-you note to the mentor. The following report describes the partial results currently available: participants’ ratings and the students’ self-assessment of instructional objectives, specifically those pertaining to interviewing skills.

Questions Considered

The two-semester pilot project in the technical communication class (ES 210w), previously reported, received high ratings from students and alumni. Both groups recommended continuing it in the future with a student rating of 4.6 and alumni rating of 4.9 on a 5-point scale. Some students suggested that in the future, students and alumni should be matched by major.4 Since all students in the chemical engineering lab had the same major as the alumni mentors, it was expected that these students would highly value being matched by major and interest.

The following questions were considered:

Sharp, J. (2008, June), Interview Skills Training In The Chemical Engineering Laboratory: Transporting A Pilot Project Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3369

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