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Interview Experience
Tyler Sanders
Western Michigan University


Interview Experience

Interacting with students on a daily basis, the importance of understanding

communication and helping skills is important to being a successful professional in residence life
and all areas of the profession. While I would like to believe that I have established these skills
throughout my young adult life, throughout class discussions and practice I have noticed some of
the negative habits that I have gained. In this interview experience I sat down with Ariel Arnold
to discuss her transitions and experience being a student and also an athlete at a college
institution. Throughout our discussion I found myself practicing the skills acquired in class, but
also some of the bad habits that I had attained over the years.
Helper Initiation:
Skill Demonstrated:
Alright, so go ahead and kind
of tell meI know that
athletics is really important to Invitational Skills
you, obviously. Tell me what
that experience looked like for
you as an undergrad.

Individuals Response:
In terms of my undergrad it
was a new experience for me.
First of all it was my first time
away from home cause I
purposefully selected a team
that was out of state so I could
get a different experience for
my time being away from
home and for my parents it
was their first experience
having a kid go off to college.

Skill Demonstrated:
Active Listening
Eye Contact
Body Position

Entering the recorded part of

the conversation I felt a
certain uneasy feeling that I
do not usually have when
starting conversations with
students. Instead of looking to
start with something casual, I
started with an invitational
question based on prior
knowledge of the individual.
In a typical helping situation I
would start with casual
conversation and ease the
individual into the helping
While I did understand that
the student was active in the
topic, I did not know the
attitude or experience of the
individual. Because of my
lack of knowledge it was very
important that I was actively
engaged in listening,
watching, and also other
nonverbal gestures. Ariel
showed that she had a lot to
share about this specific topic.

That was not as smooth as it
probably could have been
compared to my sisters
experience. She is also
attending Western as well, but
I guess I was the experimental
kid. The whole process and
their first time going to school
for academics and athletics.
That whole paperwork
process and all that was all
new to them. The scholarship
and recruiting process was all
new to them. I guess the
second time around was better
with that whole idea of that
whole process.

Individuals Response:
When I first got here, I came
and it was before university
got started. So I didnt really
partake in orientation because
I was at practice. My team
was my first experience of
making friends and meeting
new people.

Individuals Response:
I guess coming from an all
black neighborhood education
system it was new to me to be
around so many new white
peoplenothing against
white people, but it was a

I felt very overwhelmed by
the discussion and would have
taken notes in future
situations. Ariel showed
immediate interest in sharing
about her family and I had a
feeling that there was more to
discuss when it comes to the
relationships maintained. I
would follow up with the
sister-sister relationship
question after the first fifteen
minutes and found out that
their relationship was one that
helps the other survive
balancing their time. Although
this relationship seemed to be
very supportive, I may have
missed signs of relationship
issues among her and her
parents because so many
topics were discussed.
As she moved on to the
differences in her experience
and those of non-athletes, I
was able to recognize some
distain for individuals who
were able to make friends
through typical orientation. I
also wonder if she would like
to discuss more about the
relationships that she has with
these individuals and whether
she felt isolated because of
this different move in
Finally, Ariel brought up a
diversity topic that was very
different from anything that
she had mentioned before.
While I questioned whether
anymore issues of diversity
would come up again, it was


different cultural experience.

In terms of them asking me
questions or Im asking them
questions about certain things.

Helper Response:
Skill Demonstrated:
So you came in as a freshmen,
I assume. In that first year
experience a lot of students
get thrown into some random
place and dont have any
connection. You talked about
how your parents had
difficulty as it was their first
child in college.

Helper Response:
Talk a little about how
athletics or being in that team
setting maybe gave you a
little privilege or how the

Skill Demonstrated:
Gaining Insight
Open Question
Comparison-Close Ended

not a topic that re-entered the

conversation. I think that I
must have been surprised by
this topic because of the way
that she reacted. It is
important that I am able to not
be as reactive facially when
individuals are opening up to
me. As much as I would like
to believe that I was actively
listening to everything that
Ariel said, there were many
topics or issues that I could
have possibly missed that I
feel like note taking could
have been a more efficient
way to assist in this
Trying to process all of the
information that Ariel had
shared with me, I tried to
insert some leading comments
to move the conversation
forward. At this time I also
tried to paraphrase some of
the points that she specifically
made about being a student
athlete and how they affected
her transition to Western. In
the future this would be a
good time to build rapport by
thanking the individual for
sharing and then following up
with a similar experience.
Showing an empathetic tone
here would have also proven
attention and commitment to
the conversation.
Instead of using some of the
topics that Ariel had already
discussed with me I decided
to move forward with
conversation about privilege.

athletic department gave you
support. Also support from
your team on a social aspect.
Do you think that was
different from other students?

Individuals Response:
I would definitely say that I
had privilege of being a
student athlete in terms of
resources. Always having that
academic support in terms of
tutoring, having those
academic advisors who are
monitoring you. Having study
tables to keep you on track of
going to class doing your
homework. I feel like that was
very beneficial. In terms of
just the privilege being able to
travel to different locations
and run in different at track
and field meets. I feel like that
was definitely a privilege and
having a scholarship to
financially afford some of the
costs of college. I felt like that
was the biggest privilege in
terms of having that. Thats a
big issues for a lot of college
studentsbeing able to afford


At the time of the

conversation I believe I was
very focused on how I could
incorporate everything from
Ariels first response to best
move the conversation along.
Instead of interrupting the
conversation I feel that I could
have used silence to find the
root of what Ariel was truly
interested in discussing. To
gain more insight into what
she was thinking I followed
up with a bevy of different
questions about support and
privilege on the team that did
not necessarily follow the
trend of the conversation.
Because Ariel has experience
with privilege education, she
really was able to delve deep
into the many areas of
privilege that she has received
as a student athlete. A
majority of students would
probably not be able to think
like she did, but I think that
the mentality behind this
questions comes out of having
knowledge about the
individual and knowing that
they are able to engage in
conversations about this topic.
I recognize that moving more
slowly into this helping stage
would be used when working
with an individual with less
expertise in this area.
Something that I think is very
important to work on
developmentally is having
confidence when having


it. Also the pressure to take

out loans, I didnt have to
experience that. I definitely
have to say that running track
and being an athlete in
general has been a privilege in
my life.
Helper Response:
So you talked a little bit about
the resources and all of that
stuff. How about on a social
level? The relationships? You
talked a little bit about how
you faced a different
community that you were
used to. How did that look
socially for you? Finding new
friends, making connections
in that first couple weeks here
or into the season?

Individuals Response:
With the idea of being social,
because whether you are
black or white it was a new
experience for all of us.

Skill Demonstrated:
Repeating Question with

helping conversations. Ariels

facial gestures portrayed that
she didnt know if I knew
what I was talking about or
knew where I was going.
While I did know where I was
going, I think it is about the
way it is said.
After listening to Ariels
response I recognized that she
did not fully answer the
question which could be due
to the amount of questions
that had been asked. I do
wonder if I looked at her
responses as a checklist
instead of listening to issues
that had come up for Ariel.
While I recognize that this
was not the most effective
way to move forward to the
conversation, I think that I did
a good job at clarifying what I
was looking for in the
question. Being able to help
students understand and
clearly explain the question is
an important skill in helping.
Once again I recognized that
Ariel brought up the race
issue between the team
members, but unfortunately
this was not something I
discussed further. This seems
to be a topic that Ariel wanted
me to hear and discuss further.
I question whether I skipped
over it on purpose or due to
being uncomfortable. In the
future I need to actively hear
topics that are being repeated
by the individual instead of
having a plan for discussion.


Individuals Response:
Running at the college level is
different compared to high
school and being away from
home some of the concepts
that we shared. Because we
shared those concepts we
were able to support each
other and understand each
other to a certain extent. I
guess we all shared that same
privilege of being a college
athlete so that also was
something we could relate to
and talk about.
Helper Response:
Skill Demonstrated:
Alright. You talked a little
about and were getting ready
Reflecting meaning
to say something along the
lines of talking about now you
went from high school to
college and how that was
different. What do you think
the big differences were and
did they bring you together?

Individuals Response:
Umm, I guess the biggest
difference was the coach and
the work outs in terms of
there were higher
expectations from the coach
and it was kind of more like a
business relationship in terms
of a lot of the girls were
closer with their high school
coach. More as a family type

After discussing the

differences between nonathletes and athletes Ariel
seemed to close the
conversation on this note by
wrapping up some of the
points that she made.
Listening to these statements
made it clear that that it was
important to move the
conversation forward.

Ariel lost track of what she

was trying to say and thus it
became important that I
reflect on what she had
already said, but also start
talking about the point she
had previously made.
Understanding the common
background of these
individuals could lead to an
understanding of how the
team dynamic effected the
emotions of Ariel towards
athletics and her academic
Listening to Ariel discuss the
difference between high
school and college, it was
clear that her experience was
not one that she had expected.
While she talked about the
difference as if it were
someone else, I felt as if this
were something that Ariel felt
was a difficult to deal with
when she got here.

Individuals Response:
Here it is more like the coach
cant be your friend and coach
at the same time. There are
going to be situations when he
has to get on you and some
situations when he make
based on business. Sometimes
youre not going to race or be
selected for the relay. Its not
something done personally,
but done out of the best
interest of the relay or the

Individuals Response:
Of course the coaching
methods are more aggressive
in terms of his attitude. I
mean we are all adults at this
point. Where in high school or
middle school youre more
sheltered about how the coach
talks to you or says to you.
Even the workouts were
extremely different compared
to high school in terms of the
breaks you get between reps.
Different workouts. You work
out every day of the week.
You work out more than you
are actually in the classroom
too. That was a reverse and
those are some big differences
I saw.

Here I received a sense that
Ariel had been in situations
that she did not find herself in
during high school. With a
more business focused
dynamic to the teamwork
style, Ariel and others had to
learn how to be understanding
of a different way to approach
the same work. Her
recognition of not taking the
decisions of the coach
personally showed that she
had come up with some
coping strategies on what to
do during these types of
situations and also showed
that the coach was able to
reflect the rationale for these
decisions onto the team.
In this portion of the
conversation, I found myself
listening to Ariel and feeling
that she really wanted to be
supported for the work that
she had to complete to be a
student athlete. Discussing the
pressures and additional work,
I could sense a need for some
affirmation which I was able
to give her through nonverbal
head nods. Working with
athletes I felt a certain
recognition of the fact that I
should be prepared to have
these conversations with my
students in the fall who may
be facing culture shock when
it comes to the coach role.
Having this conversation with
Ariel opened my eyes a little
to some of the things that I
often forget to think about


when I am meeting with my
residents who are also

Individuals Response:
As being around each other so
much is what created that
support for the most part. We
lived in the same hallway. We
were in some of the same
classes. We ate together. We
practiced together. We were
on bus rides for twenty hours
together. So I mean you do
find a lot of support for your
teammates and they know
what you go through and they
may have been what you have
been through too and that gets
you a lot of support.
Helper Response:
I thinkI love athletics by
the way. I call myself a three
sport athlete. I was on the
boys tennis team, I managed
boys basketball, and I coach
girls tennis team, but thats a
long story about myself, but I
know that the impact of
athletics can have on team
dynamic when you work with
people. I think a lot of times
that comes from the coachs
mentality on how to work
with the team so then it
trickles down to the

Skill Demonstrated:
Building Rapport

When Ariel started talking

about support I could tell that
this was something that she
was very comfortable with
and was something she had
felt during her time as a
student athlete. Her face
seemed to glow talking about
the various experiences of
how her team had come
together and thus formed a
community because of the
proximity to one another.
Hearing these statements, I
felt a connection to my
experience with athletics as a
student in high school
Using my experience as an
athlete and manager, I wanted
Ariel to understand that I had
a grasp on what she was
facing when it came to that
support. Empathizing the
connections that were made
and the effects that had on
team dynamic, I felt that this
was a good way to build
rapport and help her
understand the baggage that I
carried with me in the
conversation. I also felt like
this was a good point to insert
some more casual
conversation, but also to use
this as a springboard into the
issue that I heard Ariel try to

Helper Response:
You talked a lot about group
dynamic and how you saw
those differences there. Do
you think the differences or
how did you see the
differences effect the team

Individuals Response:
I would have to say that the
group dynamic has a lot to do
with the coach because the
coach sets the tone for the
team. The one thing my coach
did stress is that you have
your teammates to support
you. Whether it be academics,
family issues, relationship
issues, a lot of our teammates
look to each other for advice
and guidance.
Individuals Response:
As I got older in the team,
being a team member, I saw
that my role changed from
being that freshmen that was
seeking advice from older
teammates to giving that
advice to younger freshmen
who came to me. I guess that
was kind of nice to see how
my role developed in the
team. Even the coach looking
to me for my leadership to
help guide the team and the
group. A part of the group
dynamics is having those

Skill Demonstrated:
Open Question

Talking about the pressure

from her coach and the
difference in relationship, I
felt that Ariel had noticed the
pros and cons of a different
coaching style. To lead her
into analyzing the experience,
I expressed some of my
personal opinion when it
comes to team dynamic and
allowed her to openly discuss
whether she received the same
feelings when working with a
coach at the college level.
While thinking of her opinion,
Ariel kind of parrots the
question. I could sense that
she definitely was looking to
analyze this issue as it had
affected her experience, but I
was worried as she seemed to
be giving me a very broad and
non-connected response as I
was expecting.

This is the point where Ariel

really started to open up and I
could feel the pride that she
had in the success that she had
had in her time as a student
athlete. It seemed like she
generally enjoyed moving
into a leadership role and was
able to help others while in
this role.
I think something that I would
like to discuss further with her
after returning to the
transcript is how being a
leader may have changed her



leaders to support and guide

those people towards our
goal. Of course our goal is
winning, breaking times,
setting records, and winning
meets. So I think that
leadership role was a
significant part in our group

Helper Response:
Skill Demonstrated:
You talked a little about how
your role changed. Now you
went from undergrad being an Open Question
athlete to graduate school
being an athlete. Explain to
me a little about how that
transition looked to you.
Individuals Response:
That transition was kind of
new in terms of I didnt know
what to expect of being a
graduate student athlete now.
I probably was the first person
to actually do that and I guess
at that point me and my coach
had established a relationship
where he knows that my
academics is important to me.
He is able to make
adjustments to help me be
successful and having the
graduate program, Dr. Lewis
work with me and my
schedule. It involves both of
those parties being
understanding and working
with me so that I can be a
student and an athlete. An
example of that is if I have
class during the same time as
practice, I cant say Ill just

ability in faces the challenges

that I had not taken as much
time to discuss. This may
have spurred more
conversation on being an
advocate and training other
student athletes to be able to
advocate for themselves not
only on a team, but also in the
Western community as a
Instead of cracking open some
deeper issue, I used Ariels
comment in changing roles to
transition into a new topic
after summarizing what she
had discussed so for on her
leadership experience.
While the question that was
asked was a very surfaced
question, Ariel was able to
start open about what changed
for her on a level other than
leadership. I think that change
is something that is very hard
for anyone, but it seemed that
the employees at a university
were able to support her to
make her successful in both
athletics and academics.
Being able to work with
student athletes and their
coaches is very important.
Listening to Ariel, I could
hear some things that I had
not necessarily thought about
when it came to my work with
student athletes. Once again I
recognized that she had dealt
with challenges, but in the end
because of the help of her
superiors was able to be

take it another time because it
is only offered at a certain
time when you get to that
level. My coach is like you
can work out in the morning
so that you can go to class in
the evening. So compromises
from both parties help me be
successful in terms of
applying what I did as an
undergraduate athlete to being
a graduate student athlete. Its
just the work load did change
in terms of reading and APA
expectations. I guess it helped
with that whole transitioning.
Having the support of writing
centers, and tutors, and
athletic academic advising to
help me with that as well.
Helper Response:
So you talked a little about
your experiences as an
undergrad and as a grad
student. It seems like you had
a good experience in both. It
seems like the resources that
were provided to you really
helped you to be successful.
In listening to you talk about
track and also your experience
in the classroom that
teamwork and being able to
talk to people helped you to
do both. The question I have
is what do you prefer?


Skill Demonstrated:
Reflecting feeling
Open Question

Feeling that positive reflection

from Ariel throughout the
interview, I tried to provide
some feedback on what I had
heard so far as to make sure I
was hearing what she was
thinking. Paraphrasing the
conversation as to prepare for
another open question in
reference to which experience
was better or easier for her to
complete and thus following
up with advocacy questions
for student affairs

Learning proper helping skills is something that I wished I had fully developed as I had
grown up, but today more than ever it is time to fine tune what I do not know. Sitting down and
talking to Ariel, I definitely felt a certain pressure to think about what I was going to say next



that I do not feel with typical students in my office. However, the point remains the same that I
do need to continue to learn from what works and does not work in my communication style. In
this conversation, I would continue to ask Ariel questions pertaining to her athletic experience
and then work on the transition to not being an athlete. This is something that has been a real
struggle for her because as stated above this was her community and family.
Overall, it was a good experience to sit down and work out feelings with Ariel as she is
an individual that I do not talk to on a regular basis. It did seem quite a bit like working with a
student and while I did not feel like she was looking for a solution, I felt like she is and was
looking for someone to listen and also in search of a new friend or community. As a past athlete,
she no longer has the practices or the bus rides with the rest of the team and now some of the
HESA graduate students with have to replace that hole. After the interview we talked more about
spending some time together and going shopping. While I didnt recognize it at the time, I think
that was all Ariel was looking for throughout the conversation. She was looking for a new home,
a new friend, and the chance to feel safe and comfortable again outside of the realm of athletics
on campus.