Students get crash course in interviewing

Remember that feeling heading into your first job interview? The panic? Dread? The confusion and uncertainty? Did you have any idea what you were doing? If so, you’re like millions of Americans who stumble into job interviews.

To help prepare for this critical skill, the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and the Gilroy Unified School District organized “Rock the Mock,” an interview preparation boot camp for students held at Christopher High on Thursday and Gilroy High on Friday.

On Thursday at Christopher, about two dozen Gilroy professionals met to volunteer their time and expertise to conduct 30-minute mock interviews with students with prepared questions designed to mimic real life interview scenarios. The students began their day with job training workshops which included and a short handshake how-to, instructed by John Hennelly the Chief Administrative Officer at St. Louise Regional Hospital, a lesson regarding social media, how to dress for success and how to be prepared for interviews.

For many students, Rock the Mock was their first job interview. Some were a bit more experienced, having worked part time jobs, but the experience helped to expand on how to properly interview and it helped to illuminate what to expect.

“It was great,” said Giselle Mendoza, 18, a senior at Christopher. “I now have a new perspective and I learned there’s a lot of different things I can do.”

Rock the Mock was started to address concerns from the business community about how many students weren’t prepared to enter the job market and that many had no idea how to conduct an interview. Now in its fourth year, this program was inspired by a similar program that was being used by the Morgan Hill Unified School District.

At the close of each interview, students spent five minutes with their interviewers to give feedback on what went well and what didn’t during their interviews.

“I learned a lot of things that I wished I would have known before,” Mendoza, who currently works at In-N-Out Burger, said. “I think more freshmen and sophomores should do this.”

Former Gilroy City Council Member Terri Aulman served as one of the volunteers. This Rock the Mock was her fourth in as many years.

“I thought it was very well done,” Aulman said. “I love interacting with students and I think it’s important to be able to help them gain experience and get other the nerves that go with interviewing. A lot are not sure of what to do, but when they get into it they know we won’t bite their heads off, so they can relax.”

The importance of good interviewing skills will become imperative as students prepare for college entrance interviews or to help prepare them for upcoming part-time jobs. For Mendoza, the experience has made her feel much more confident as she prepares for her future.

“I have much more confidence now and I feel much more prepared,” Mendoza said, who just started applying to different colleges.

During the feedback portion following the Rock the Mock, with lunch provided by Bread Company 152, many of the professional volunteers provided ideas how to improve the event in the future.

“I think it may have been a good idea for them to bring in sample applications and resumes,” Aulman said. “We had discussed that before but we didn’t want to overwhelm them.”