After a day of interviewing University of Maryland students, Gene A. Morgan of Syscon Corp. was pleased.

"I'm quite impressed by the people I saw today. Besides . . . their academic background, they're very polished students," said Morgan, a computer analyst based in Columbia, Md.

As a result, he said, more than half of the dozen seniors and graduate students he met will be further considered for jobs with the computer systems company.

Morgan is one of 650 to 700 recruiters whom university placement officers expect will visit the College Park campus this academic year, looking over students in 30-minute sessions in one of 14 interview rooms at the Career Development Center. (About 30 more firms will interview only master's degree candidates in business administration.) The firms represent a wide variety of businesses and federal government agencies, large and small.

Morgan, like other recruiters interviewed, said he was visiting the University of Maryland because former students have proven to be good employes for Syscon. "I'm here because of its reputation and proximity," he said.

For F. Henry Claudio, a personnel manager for American Hospital Supply Corp., his recent recruiting trip to the College Park campus was the company's first in recent years. "We want to establish new relations with the school," he said.

Like Morgan, Claudio also was impressed by the students:

"The students are particularly attractive: They're very realistic, pragmatic; they have a middle-class background. They've had to pay their school expenses. They have a business perspective already; they're ready to go out into the real world."

Of the 13 students Claudio interviewed during the first day of his two-day visit--he and another recruiter were to see a total of 52--four impressed him enough to be referred for second interviews later this spring at the firm's New York City offices.

Maryland is one of five northeastern universities Claudio will visit looking for students for entry-level marketing and operations jobs that pay $19,000 to $20,000, with raises after 90 days of training. "There are more schools than I have time or budget to cover. Coming here this year means I'm not going elsewhere," he said.

Despite the nation's economic recession, Claudio and the other recruiters interviewed said their firms are hiring. Nationwide, Claudio said, American Hospital Supply this year will hire about the same number of graduates as last year (200 to 300) for entry-level marketing, operations and research and development jobs.

Dale Griswold, an Alexandria-based sales manager for American Frozen Food Inc., said his firm "has been growing at 30 percent a year for the last 10 years, so we're interested in hiring immediately."

He said he's "looking for someone who can talk easily, who's not nervous" to be a sales representative. Of the 14 students he met, three will get second interviews, he said.

"I know who would make out well on the road," Griswold said. "If I talk to an egotistical athlete, he might be someone who would do well. But . . . someone who lives at home and has paid 2 percent of his tuition" probably wouldn't be suited for the job.

The interview generally is the first round for a student in being hired by a company, campus placement officials said. Rarely is a student offered a job during the interview, they said.

Martha Patton, assistant director of the career center, noted that a recruiter seeking to fill three jobs may interview a total of 100 students at Maryland and other colleges and invite six or seven to corporate offices for second interviews.

But that first interview is not necessarily students' only shot at being hired by a firm. Claudio noted that some students who failed to impress him in those interviews and later were hired have turned out to be good employes. "I've been proven wrong," he said.