Students swarm to Interview Frenzy

Kyle Hufnagel

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One critical avenue most people must cross in their search for a job is the dreaded interview with a potential employer.

At CSUN, student job hunters were able to lessen that dread with a special workshop designed to fine-tune their interview skills and build confidence as they face that step by attending Interview Frenzy, held at the CSUN Career Center in University Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

One by one, students signed up and waited to be called in to speak with recruiters and industry professionals working in their prospective career fields for 10 to 15 minute mock interviews.

Each professional offered critical feedback for future job application processes.

Interview Frenzy was launched about five years ago. It complements a decades old event, Resumania, an annual one-on-one workshop designed to help students create an effective resume.

Resumania was held Oct. 2 at University Hall.

Patricia Gaynor, assistant director of the Career Center, created the event after finding success with Resumania.

“We started Interview Frenzy because Resumania was so successful and it needed a second half to it,” said Gaynor. “During Resumania, we were taking LinkedIn photos and [conducting a] Skype [interview] practice. We’re in our second year of doing that now with Interview Frenzy.”

Rocio Romero, a job developer at the Career Center, believes both Resumania and Interview Frenzy offer pivotal experience and advice to students starting their careers.

“We all have interview concerns; it can get sort of intimidating going in there for a job interview,” said Romero. “Any interview concerns you may have, our employers are here today to help you with that and provide guidance and advice.”

One of the benefits of having professionals interact with students isn’t just to critique and get feedback, but to begin networking with people in their field.

“The students are able to make that connection,” said Romero. “We have NBC Universal here today, and they are recruiting for several different majors — everything from business to civil engineering.”

John Kendall, a Cinema of Television Arts major preparing for graduation in spring, went to Interview Frenzy to gain practical experience in an area of job hunting he feels he can improve.

“I want to work on my interview skills,” he said. “I know that’s one of my weaknesses when it comes to looking for a job. I kind of stutter during interviews sometimes, so I want to work on that. I feel that this Frenzy is a good helping tool for me and for all the students here.”

Others, like graduate student Martha Cornejo, who had just heard about the event earlier in the day, didn’t prepare as much for the event as others but participated nevertheless in order to practice her interviewing skills.

“I wanted to gain perspective of where I stand with my skills being interviewed,” she said. “I had a mock interview about five years ago, and that went well, but it’s been five years. I wanted to see where I stand at the current time so I wanted to get feedback.”

Cornejo declared her participation a success and left the event with more confidence in her job interview skills.

“My interviewer shared with me that I do come as a strong interviewer,” she said.

Abby Wilson, a recruiter from Northwestern Mutual, a life insurance and financial services company, has noticed these events help students when they’re thrown in the spotlight.

“I’ve been doing these for a few years now,” she said. “You can tell when someone has had their resume critiqued ahead of time. You can tell when someone has had practice in an interview, versus a candidate who has had no practice at all. It’s very, very noticeable.”

And even though the interviews are staged, Wilson looks for individuals who treat the interviews as if they were the real thing. Candidates never know when it will pay off or who will be watching, she said.

“It’s important that when they come into to these that they still bring their A-game, even if they have questions, or even if it’s just practice,” said Wilson. “Don’t blow it off as nothing, because these employers here are still looking for good, quality candidates — even in these practice settings.”