Business management students from California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) conducted mock job interview sessions to learn essential management techniques, while helping students enrolled at the Southern California Regional Occupational Center (SoCal ROC) gain real-world interview skills to compete in today’s competitive workforce.
The SoCal ROC Service Learning Project took place on March 2, and included approximately 70 CSUDH students and local business professionals leading practice interviews with as many as 400 high school and other students studying a variety of occupations, from dental assistant and physical therapy aide, to welder and automobile mechanic.
“The community wins, our students win, and the SoCal ROC students win,” said Thomas Norman, assistant professor of business management who developed the SoCal ROC Service Learning Project. “The high school students get practice being interviewed; a lot of them have not been interviewed for a job before. Our students get practice being managers, which is one of the most important things our students can learn–how to hire people and build a team. The business community gets to see what a CSUDH human resources graduate has to offer. And, at the end of the day, the reflection and assessment we do lets everyone know there’s more than just interviewing going on at these events.”
To get credit for their service learning work, each CSUDH student must spend at least three hours interviewing the students. The CSUDH student interviewers are armed with some of the most common behavioral-based questions the SoCal ROC students may face when they begin looking for work and meeting with managers looking to hire new employees.
After the “icebreaker”–“Tell me a little bit about yourself.”– the interviewers asked such questions as “Can you describe an achievement that made you feel proud?,” “What unique qualities or abilities would you bring to this job?,” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
After each session, the SoCal ROC students moved to different interviewers until they each completed three interviews. They were also provided information to help them prepare and curb pre-interview nerves, such as:
- Prepare and practice your “elevator speech,” a 30-second “commercial” that says who you are, what you do, and what you are interested in doing.
- Go slow, take your time and do not rush. Reflect on the comments you received and make notes while waiting for your next interview.
- Always ask a question when prompted or at the end of the interview. It shows interest in the job and the organization or company.
When finished with their interviewing, the CSUDH students filled out a self-assessment form and later drafted a two- to three-page “reflection paper” to complete the service learning project.
“The SoCal ROC students were very confident, well spoken, they had good posture and asked some great questions,” said Brittany Bowman, a human resource management student at CSUDH. “I’ve taken some wonderful experience away from this project. And it was nice having our mentors next to us to give feedback about what we did well, what we can improve on, how to solicit quality feedback from the job candidates, and how to build good rapport with them. I can now take this experience to any human resource department I work for in the future.”