Mock interviews put students through paces for Engineers Week

Talk about increasing your odds –– Aria Heraypur interviewed with 13 engineering firms in 90 minutes.

The 23-year-old senior at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was one of 34 students to go through the interview process as part of Engineers Week hosted by the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering on the UNLV campus, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Feb. 19.

“It definitely got a lot easier after the first one,” she said. “… It was easier to talk to them once you go through a few. By the time you’re at six or seven, it’s kind of a breeze. They tend to ask some of the same questions.”

The UNLV chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers organized the event with students and industry professionals. Students had only five minutes for each interview and two minutes to get feedback from the interviewers.

Like speed dating, a bell would ring and students would move to the next table.

These were just practice, or “mock speed interviews,” said ASCE UNLV chapter president Jaffer Almosawy.

“I tell them, ‘You need to treat it as if it’s real,’ ” Almosawy said. “These speed interviews kind of help sharpen your skills and see what you’re doing wrong. … You essentially don’t get feedback when you go to a real job interview, and you don’t know if you’re doing (well). It’s a perfect opportunity to learn what you need to improve.”

Practice or not, eight students landed internships last semester because of it.

Junior Layla Rouas was one of them. She was offered an internship at HDR, Inc., an engineering and architecture firm, the same day she interviewed.

“It helped me get comfortable interviewing and really get to know the employers,” Rouas said. “Because just as much as they were interviewing us, we were interviewing them to learn where we want to work. It’s good on both ends because they get to know the students and we get to know the firms.

“It is really fun, and it’s a great networking tool.”

Rouas said there was a lot of disparity in the critiques she got from different firms. Some praised how “short and to the point and concise” her résumé was, while others said it should be more in-depth.

“You just have to find the company that fits your personality,” Rouas said.

The event started three years ago with a few companies and students but has grown in popularity each semester, Almosawy said.

Nick Golz, Nevada water business group manager for HDR, attended the event for the second consecutive semester. He was the one responsible for hiring Rouas.

“I’m here again to keep the continual talent pool fresh,” Golz said. “It’s great for the students, but it’s also great for the companies. Obviously we have a selfish interest in being here. We want to find good talent. … It’s refreshing for us, as professionals, because it reminds you why you got in the profession.”

Because the interviews go by so quickly, Golz said he usually looks past the “technical stuff” and asks students how they are going to work in a team environment. Golz said he looks for a good attitude and “quality people.” He also said students should be able to tie past work experience with working at that firm.

“Having any kind of working experience is still valuable,” he said. “I used to flip burgers, and I feel my burger-flipping experience was directly applicable to my work ethic and what I did in the future. … Whatever it is, there’s a way to tie it together.”

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at or 702-224-5524.

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