Rock the Interview expo instructs students on art of the interview

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Speech instructor Susan Cunningham speaks at Rock the Interview in her lecture “If I Could Turn Back Time: Interview Mistakes” April 5 in McAllister. Rock the Interview was an expo to improve students’ interviewing skills. There were nine tables set up, each with a different speaker covering different aspects of the interview process. Lorena Torres Romero

Project coordinator Esther Pais said the turnout exceeded expectations.

By Thomas Macias

“Exciting” and “beautiful” were words speech Instructor Esther Pais used to describe the 2018 Rock the Interview expo April 5 in McAllister Fine Arts Center.

Pais, coordinator of the event, said Rock the Interview was designed for students “to develop an understanding of the importance of improving interviewing skills to gain employment.”

Students were provided tips on how to anticipate and research potential interviewing questions, particularly situational or scenario-based questions, Pais said.

Pais said in an interview that other skill training included résumé and cover letter writing.

“A lot of students don’t know what a cover letter is or what that requires so the table or person responsible for (this instruction) will give a sample of what a cover letter looks like and then tell you the elements that you need to make sure you talk about,”

Attire and grooming were other important skills taught at the expo, Pais said.

“When it comes to attire and grooming, it seems so simple that students would know what is appropriate and not appropriate to wear, but you would be surprised. Sometimes (a person) thinks nice jeans are appropriate interviewing attire, but it’s not,” Pais said.

Students lined the halls of McAllister well before the start of the event. A total of 204 attended.

The expo consisted of nine tables set up on the two floors of McAllister where small groups of students heard lectures including “Preparing for Interview Questions,” “Cover Letter and Résumé Writing Tips“ and “Interview Attire & Grooming.”

The presentations were done in 10-minute intervals.

Each presentation lasted eight minutes followed by music and an announcement by a master of ceremony that two minutes remained for groups to transit to a different table.

Pais said the format was both dynamic and interactive.

As extra incentives, free lunches were provided to the first 100 participants who attended three sessions. Door prizes also were given away.

For liberal arts sophomore Zion Minor, her expectation prior to the event was that she would learn how to prepare for and conduct herself in a job interview.

Minor said she has experience in one interview she did for her first job.

“… The lady (the interviewer) helped me out really well,” Minor said. “She told me to be calm, cool and collected, but I was super nervous and sort of fell over my words a lot. But I got the job, so it must have been pretty good.”

In retrospect, Minor said she wished she had had training on “how to respond to questions rather than just blurting out whatever came to mind.”

Rosemarie Laguna, senior adviser for services for women and nontraditional students at this college’s empowerment center, said her function at the event was to represent the Mi Casa program.

Laguna said Mi Casa helps with résumé writing and critiquing, interviewing and other skills such as conducting job searches.

Laguna said Mi Casa provides counselors and advisers and is especially effective in providing one-on-one assistance.

 In an April 7 post-event interview, Pais discussed the results of Rock the Interview.

“I’m super excited. It was a fantastic event. We blew the numbers,” said Pais, who said planners expected 150.

Pais said two instructors from outside the speech program brought their entire classes to Rock the Interview.

Pais said feedback surveys indicated Rock the Interview had been both well-received and effective.

Using a five-point scale, Pais said that before the event, students rated themselves an average of 3.3 on their knowledgeability of interviewing skills.

Following the event, the average rose to 4.5, Pais said.

“These are great numbers,” Pais said.

For Minor, who had experienced only one previous interview, wrote in an email that the event taught her “everything I needed to know and more.”

 “I learned how to construct a résumé for jobs and what bad interviewing looks like,” she wrote.

Pais said for future events, a larger venue is needed.

“There were too many people for that space, and it got really loud,” Pais said. “We’re already thinking about next year and where we want to go with it.”

Pais identified one additional resource she thought would go over well with college students:

“More sandwiches.”


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