Exercise science students polish interview skills with YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo

Contact: Chris Hybels

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Interviewing can be a nerve-wrecking experience, especially for college graduates entering the workforce. To calm those nerves, Julie Raedy, Western Michigan University faculty specialist I of exercise science, gives students the opportunity to practice in her professional development course. With help of former Western alumni at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, her students had the chance to complete a mock interview with exercise science professionals.


Morgan Simpson

To prepare for the mock interviews, Raedy's students practiced interviewing each other in an exercise she calls, speed interviewing. In speed interviewing, students have two minutes to ask and answer different types of interview questions, such as behavioral, stress and informational. 

"We sat in two rows facing each other and moved around using practice questions to get our nerves out," says Morgan Simpson, a dance and exercise science major. "It was a good learning experience for the mock interviews and I learned more about my classmates."

On the day of the mock interviews, Raedy requires all of her students to come in dressed appropriately with a paper copy of their resume. According to her, making a good first impression is the most important thing students can do during their interview.

"They've already gotten through the first round of the hiring process and they've been asked for the interview, and the employers know they're qualified. They know that they want to get to know them and meet them," says Raedy. "So at the interview, it's not so much them proving that they're qualified because they've already done that."

During the interviews, every student in the class spends five minutes answering a list of questions prepared by the interviewer. It is an opportunity for students to discuss more about their experiences and explain why they would be a good fit for a position. They also had the chance to learn more about the interviewer and how exercise science is a part of their jobs.

"They had good work experience and they knew their drive and their passion towards what they wanted to do as a career," says Erik Anderson, association program operations director at the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo. "They may not know the exact path, but they definitely have the passion behind it."

After the interview, staff from the YMCA gave feedback to students using a rubric to help them for future interviews. They also spoke to the class about their career pathway and the benefits of working at a non-profit organization, like the YMCA.

"I think what we are learning in this class will be helpful for getting a career in the future because it prepares you for real world scenarios. We even learned tips for things you didn't know you needed to know about interviewing," adds Simpson.


The Department of Human Performance and Health Education's Bachelor of Science in exercise science program is a scientifically based curriculum which includes coursework in the basic sciences, the physiology and biomechanics of exercise, fitness assessment and exercise testing, exercise prescription and training, behavior modification and the clinical aspects of exercise. We offer three exercise science concentrations: human performance, clinical/pre-professional and strength and conditioning. All of the exercise science programs integrate classroom study with hands-on practical experiences in order to provide the student with a comprehensive level of academic preparation. To learn more, visit the exercise science program webpage.

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