Preparing for employment: The role of a mock job interview for student dietitians

Kelly Squires1, Associate Professor Leanne  Brown1, Mrs Deanne  Harris2

1University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health, Tamworth, Australia, 2Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital, Tamworth, Australia

Little is known about how graduating students prepare to navigate the transition from higher education to employment. Job interviews are used by employers to assess the profession-based knowledge, skills and personal attributes of candidates. For graduating students, the job interview is often an anxiety-provoking process with success fundamental to their future career. Despite this, interview techniques are not commonly explicitly taught or practised. In a novel approach, final year nutrition and dietetic students completing a year-long rural immersion placement with the University of Newcastle Department of Rural Health in Tamworth participated in a mock interview experience. The experience aimed to allow students to practise skills in a dietetic-specific job interview environment and receive focused feedback. Interviews were developed to mimic real-life interview experiences as closely as possible. Each interview comprised of a student and an interview panel that included a dietetic academic, hospital dietitian manager and a community representative. Each interview lasted 30 minutes and included a set of four questions typically used in current dietetics job interviews. All mock interview experiences were immediately followed by time for feedback and reflection. Preliminary feedback suggests students initially felt underprepared for job interviews, but the experiential nature of the intervention was a highly beneficial learning experience. The focused panel feedback was identified as a valuable inclusion in the intervention. The experience provides a meaningful opportunity to practise skills specific to the recruitment process, which is applicable to any health profession program.


Kelly Squires is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics with the University Of Newcastle Department Of Rural Health (UONDRH). She works predominately with dietetic students in their final year of the program. Since beginning her role with the UONDRH, she has developed a passion in preparing students for the transition from the classroom to the clinical environment. This interest led her to commence a PhD investigating the use of simulation embedded into Dietetics placement on the readiness and confidence of students.

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