The Center for Career and Calling presented the grand finale to its Professional Development Series with its first-ever Battle of the Interviews competition on April 13 in Munson Chapel. The event allowed six finalists from different schools on campus to compete for $500 based on their mock interview, professional attire and résumé.
Contestants included senior communication studies major Jacova Snyder, senior economics major Jordan Johnson, sophomore theology and biblical studies major James Curley, senior cinematic arts major Meagan McGill, senior physics and business management major Max Walden and junior psychology, marketing and management major Kendelle Abts.
Each contestant prepared for the competition by using an internship or job they chose according to their major.
Abts, the victor, won over the judges with her preparedness for a corporate job at J.Crew: her résumé showed she had previous experience with the company, she was able to answer questions about the franchise and she even wore a J. Crew outfit.
“I’m coming out with a lot of knowledge in hindsight, and I just feel very confident for going into future interviews knowing that I’m…[capable of] providing the appropriate resources for the interviewers,” Abts said.
Abts, who plans to use her three majors for a career in marketing and consumer behavior, said she now feels comfortable tailoring her experience for specific job descriptions.
Abts revealed that working with coaches to fine-tune her résumé and practice answering and asking interview questions helped prepare her for job applications. She said that she felt the experience was positive due to the environment facilitated by the coaches and other contestants.
“[Abts]…let the company she wanted to work for know that she was ready to move forward in that role,” Joyce Richardson, interviewer and administrative assistant in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, said.
Richardson said Abts’ greatest strengths were her confidence and focus concerning the company she was applying to. She said she advises students to “sell themselves” and be self-assured in their experience and qualifications.
“[Abts]…knew about J.Crew; everything in her résumé lent itself to J.Crew,” judge and Executive Vice President David Bixby said. “I really see the whole package.”
Bixby said he believed the event was important because it provided students with opportunities to practice their professional skills. He said the pressure of interviewing in front of five professionals and a full audience is good preparation because it alleviates tension for future interviews.
In addition to seeking affirmation from the judges, the contestants competed for a prize based on audience participation. Walden was awarded fan favorite and a cash prize for getting the most text-in votes.
“It really is just focusing on that holistic development and preparing for the next step no matter what industry you’re going into,” Mandy Williams said, a Center for Career and Calling second-year graduate assistant. “Everybody needs a great résumé [and] great interview skills. Whether you’re a business student or an art student, it’s the same basic preparation.”
Williams said she hopes the event encourages students to use the office at any point in their career decision making.
“[The competition] helps shift the culture for this to be something on the minds of students and to be thinking [about] how they transfer all these things into the marketplace,” Center for Career and Calling Director Phil Brazell said.
According to Brazell, the office staff is seeking new and innovative ways to prepare students for their lives after graduation. He said he anticipates the competition and the development series will continue to grow with the help of employers, APU’s schools and alumni.
Senior business economics major Jacob Gifford said he has used the Center for Career and Calling multiple times this semester in anticipation of graduation. Gifford explained that he attended the event because he felt like watching his peers participate provided a unique opportunity to observe what is done well and what can be improved during the interview process.
“I’ve done interviews, but they’re always a private interview with a prospective employer,” Gifford said. “I thought it would be a good experience to learn from other people and what they do well.”
Gifford stated that, thanks to the competition, he learned to feel more comfortable taking pauses during interviews, which he said made the contestants appear more collected and less rushed. He also said he found the advice to be confident in regards to salary negotiation helpful.
To schedule an appointment with a Center for Career and Calling consultant, visit apucareer.youcanbook.me. For résumé reviews, career exploration or job searching strategies, visit during the office’s walk-in hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.