How to Use Mock Interviews to Practice Interviewing
Before walking into an actual job interview, you want to ensure that your behavior, answers and dress code are top-notch. Therefore, it is a good idea to rehearse the interview ahead of time.
After all, a good performance during a job interview gives you the opportunity to walk into your dream job, so you should never let one-in-a-lifetime chance to slip away just because you were not prepared.
Apart from finding the perfect attire, researching the company and even preparing to answer the common interview questions, you can also conduct a mock interview.
A mock interview, which is also referred to as a practice interview, is an imitation of a real job interview. This kind of an interview gives you the chance to practice and prepare for a job interview and also get feedback from the interviewer involved in the mock interview.
HOW IS A MOCK INTERVIEW DONE?
Normally, a mock interview is a run-through job interview, which is mostly conducted by mock interview professionals or career counselors. In addition, mock interview services can be offered by career coaches and by local workforce services offices, which is suitable for someone getting employed for the first time.
Mock interviews are very beneficial as they assist you in finding out how you can answer the challenging interview questions. In addition, a mock interview can assist you to enhance your communication skills, learn new interview strategies and help in relieving the stress that you might experience before attending an actual job interview.
Some interviewers prefer to use semi-structured interview formats instead of using the normal interview format while conducting a mock interview. As we have seen earlier, mock interviews are very beneficial, especially if it is your first time attending an interview.
4 AMAZING BENEFITS OF A MOCK INTERVIEW
Since practice makes perfect, there are many benefits from using a mock interview to prepare for a job interview. Here are the top four of them:
- It helps you to reduce anxiety and stress about interviewing – especially if you have never been to a job interview before and you are not sure about how to answer the common interview questions. Whenever you get a mock interview opportunity, you should use it as a platform to test your interviewing abilities. Mostly, a skilled interviewer will take you through the mock interview, and they usually tell you whether the answer you have given is the best or there is a room for improvement.
- It assists you to improve your confidence – mock interview coaches are always ready and willing to identify your strengths after taking you through the mock interview. This in return will boost your self-confidence and that will help you to perform well in your interview.
- A mock interview helps you to get constructive criticism in a stress-free environment – there is no perfect candidate for an Therefore, a mock interview can assist you to improve on areas where you have challenges as well as assist you in clarifying your answers to particular questions. You will rarely get feedback in regards to your interviewing and soft skills during a regular interview. Therefore, a mock interview gives you the opportunity to identify the challenges that prevent you from getting that job.
- It can assist you in preparing for behavioral interviewing – behavioral interviewing (BI) is very a common method of job interviewing. It can be beneficial for you to practice behavioral interviewing in a mock interview, especially if you are not familiar with it.
TYPES OF MOCK INTERVIEWS
In-person mock interview
In-person mock interviews are very common in colleges and universities. Career counselors at the institutions’ career centers offer in-person mock interviews.
If you are a graduate or a college student, you can consult with your career office to confirm whether they offer in-person mock interviews. However, if you are not a student you can opt to consult with a career counselor or career coach.
While making your appointment with the mock interviewer, it is advisable to provide them with information about your general career or specific information about the company that called you for the interview.
While consulting your mock interviewer, it is always a good idea to give them as much specific information as you can. Mostly, your mock interviewer records the interview session with a video camera.
Some career counselors and career centers also provide mock online video and phone interviews. During the interviews session, the mock interviewer records the session with a webcam or a tape recorder.
After the mock interview, the interviewer reviews the interview with the interviewee and then gives him/her feedback.
Online mock interview
Also, you can choose to use an online application or program for mock interviewing. Most of the online mock interviewing programs offer job seekers with a good platform to practice and prepare for an upcoming job interview.
Some of the online mock interview programs like interview4.com are basic, and they will give you several random interview questions, which are either verbal or written. You are the required to type in your answers. Although these programs assist you to think about how you can answer the different interview questions, they will not allow you to practice verbal responses.
On the other hand, there are more sophisticated mock interview practice applications that can allow you to choose questions related to your career field. In addition, these programs can also allow you to select the type of interview (group interview, behavioral interview, etc.) you are preparing for.
These applications have pre-recorded videos of mock interviewers asking questions, and you are required to answer each question verbally.
At times, you will be given a time limit, and this helps you to learn how to answer each question concisely. The application can either record the answer you give, or you can choose to record yourself with a web camera. After the interview, you can review your recording, or opt to email the file to a family member, friend or a career coach for review.
Also, there are some applications which can allow you to conduct a live online mock interview through a webcam with a real career coach. The mock interviewer records the interview and then analyzes your performance.
However, you should understand that most of these online based mock interview applications cost money, especially the programs which allow you to record your interview or involve a real career coach.
Therefore, you are advised to thoroughly review any online-based mock interview program and ensure that it offers the services you want at a cost that suits your budget.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A MOCK INTERVIEW
Just like any other expertise, skill, and talent, the more you practice it, the better you will become at it. If you want to land your dream job, never attend a job interview unprepared. A mock job interview can assist you to formulate job interview answers and even help in highlighting your weak spots.
Pamela Skillings, a career coach agrees that practicing for job interviews can be very tedious. However, an online-based mock interview can make the difference, particularly if you have not attended a job interview for a while or you are not experienced in job interviews.
Mock job interviews can assist you to think through the various job interview questions you might face. In addition, it assists to know how you can communicate your thoughts to the interviewer.
As Carole Martin, an author of Boost Your Interview IQ and an interview coach says that a mock job interview is just like a dress rehearsal. It gives you the opportunity to put your job interview skills into action in an environment that allows you to learn from the mistakes you make.
Therefore, doing a mock job interview can assist in improving your self-confidence, which can be very beneficial the next time you attend an actual job interview.
Every career coach says that it is important for a mock interview to be taken seriously, just like a real interview. You should prepare for the interview just as you would prepare for a job interview with a recruitment manager.
- You should ensure that you arrive early, that you carry along your resume as well as the other materials required in an actual job interview.
- You carry a notebook to note down whatever the mock interviewer says.
- Ensure that you dress appropriately in a business or professional attire.
In addition, you should prepare to answer the general interview questions to be asked in the mock interview. If you are attending the mock interview in preparation for a specific career field or job, it is advisable to review specific questions related to the job or career field.
The following steps will help you to successfully run through a practical job interview.
1. Look for a professional mock interviewer
When it comes to mock interviewing, the person you choose to interview you matters a lot. This is because you will be looking for an honest feedback from an expert.
Preferably, it would be a good idea to practice with a person working in your industry or the industry you are about to join. Ms. Skillings says that the person should have a real-world experience in interviewing job candidates.
However, there are those who make the common mistake of mock interviewing with a family member or their friend. According to Ms. Martin, you should look for a person who will objectively evaluate your interviewing skills. It is very rear that a family member or friend is objective.
College students and recent graduates are advised to consult with career coaches or their school’s career centers. Many universities and colleges have career coaches on their payrolls who assist students and alumni in mock interviews with no additional charges for the students.
2. Choose the right environment
Always try to make the mock interview feel just as close to the actual interview as possible. Therefore, you should ensure that you dress professionally and choose a professional interview setting which resembles an actual job interview.
Whenever possible, you should practice mock interview in person as this allows you to practice greeting the interviewer with an enthusiastic smile and firm handshake – two things that can assist you to start your interview the right way.
It is good to video-record every mock interview as it helps you to evaluate your performance as well as your progress. As you continue practicing with mock interviews, you should notice a big difference between the first and the last mock interview.
3. Never memorize your answers
This is very straightforward – you do not want to memorize your answers. Memorizing your answers will make you sound unauthentic and over-rehearsed. It is good to understand that job interviews are not exams.
Rather, they are conversations between your potential employer and you to determine whether you are the right person for the job as well as for the company.
The best strategy is using a bullet point approach, where you get to practice while noting down the key points you want to address instead of rehearsing the exact answers you plan to give.
4. Practice the frequently asked interview questions
While it is not possible to know the exact questions you will be asked during a job interview, it is always an added advantage for you to prepare and practice the frequently asked interview questions.
Although interview questions usually vary depending on your industry, most recruitment managers tend to ask interview candidate the following questions:
- Tell me about yourself – typically, this the first question any job interviewer will ask you. However, no interviewer wants to hear about the story of your life or the summary of your achievements. This question will help you to determine the tone for your interview. Therefore, you do not want to waste that opportunity. The best way to approach this question is to highlight how your background, interests, and knowledge related to the job you are interviewing for at that moment.
- What are your career goals – many people tend to give the milestones they are targeting to achieve. But, this is very wrong. While answering this question, you should base your answer on the skills you are looking to develop after getting the job. For example, “In the next two years, I’m aiming to develop solid experience in marketing, particularly in social media marketing.”
- What are your strengths and weaknesses – this question is very simple but tricky at the same time. When talking about your strengths, it is always a good idea to focus on the accomplishments or traits related to the requirements of the job. For your weaknesses, try to be as honest as you can, but also say how you are improving on them. For example, rather than saying, “I am a poor public speaker,” you can say, “I am not a natural born public speaker; however, I am taking a course to assist me in improving my public speaking skills.”
- Why do you want this job – you should ensure you have thoroughly researched about your prospective employer as well as the company if you want to ace this question. Then you should explain to your employer why you are the right fit for the position. A good way to do this is to read the company’s mission statement and then see how your background and experience will assist you to help the company achieve its
- Do you have any questions for me – you should understand that interviews are not all about answering questions, but also asking questions. Therefore, you should take that opportunity to ask well-researched and meaningful questions. This makes the interviewer know that you truly did your research and that you taking the interview very seriously.
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY MOCK INTERVIEW YOURSELF
Job interviews tend to be intimidating. But this can change with practice as it really helps in boosting a person’s confidence, thus improving their performance in the long-run.
Participating in mock interviews will assist you to gain experience as well as calm your nerves before attesting an actual interview.
However, many people are interested in mock interviews but they lack someone to help them out. But, the good thing is, you can handle a mock interview by yourself.
To successfully conduct a mock interview, either with a mock interviewer or by yourself, follow the following tips.
Assume an interviewee character
For a mock interview to be effective, try as much as possible to emulate an actual job interview. This begins by getting a practice partner, who can be either a friend or a family member, or a mock interview coach.
To help your friend or relative prepare for this role, research about some of the basic interview rules to acquaint them with the general interview process.
There are some online tools, which can assist your interviewer to learn about the different questions to ask, how to ask the questions as well as what to expect from the interviewee.
As the interviewee, you should assume that you are meeting your employer for the first time, regardless of your personal relationship with them.
Create some interview questions
Next, you will need a list of interview questions. You should try to make the questions look more similar to those of a real interview if you want the mock interview to more helpful.
Try to come up with the commonly asked interview questions like the behavioral questions, as well as any other type of questions, asked in a real job interview.
Also, you can decide to read and understand the job description as it can help you to come up with more relevant questions. Doing an online research can also assist you to get a hint of the technical questions you might be asked.
Lastly, consider reviewing your resume. There are mock interviewers who like to base their mock interviews on the resume. Therefore, it is important for you to be ready for such interviews.
It is good to understand that you are not limited on the number of questions you are supposed to include on the list. This all depends on your level of preparedness and how much you want to practice.
This part tends to make some people feel a bit uncomfortable even though it is not designed for that purpose. Rather than having someone take you through the interview process, you are supposed to read the questions and answer to a video camera.
If you feel nervous about recording yourself, it is OK as that is usually expected to happen. The idea behind this is to give you data to assess later and to see how you might react during the actual interview.
You should understand that the most critical part of this process is where you answer the interview questions aloud. Although the feedback can be beneficial at times, it is not always. Practicing answering interview questions will help you to be sound more confident and polished than you would have if you did not practice.
Your overall behavior and delivery is very important part of your responses’ content. An interview can make you feel unsure and nervous. However, you should ensure that you remain poised, confident and calm.
Always maintain eye contact with your interviewer and speak concisely and clearly. Strictly avoid stammering or mumbling.
Assess your performance
Ensure that the person who takes you through the mock interview takes notes through the entire session and highlights the areas that you did well as well as the ones you struggled in. Once you finish the interview, note down your own notes while the interview questions and answers are still fresh in your mind.
Use the notes you write to discuss how you answered the questions and whether there is something you could have done differently. You can compare your notes with your interview practice partner’s notes to confirm whether you had a similarview on your performance.
The information you get should assist you to understand your strong areas and areas which you need to improve. After attending a few mock interviews, you should be confident about how you answer the interview questions and convince your employer that you are the best person for the job.
After every mock interview, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I fully answer every question I was asked?
- Were my answers convincing?
- Is there anything I would change if I was asked the same question again?
- How long was my answer? Can it be shorter?
- How was my body language? Did I fidget? Did it match my words?
- How did I perform in terms of eye contact?
Go through the recording again, from the start to the end without pausing and then rate yourself.
The saying that “practice makes perfect” makes a lot of sense when it comes to practicing your interviewing skills. A mock interview can help you to sharpen and improve your interviewing skills.
When it comes to interviewing, you should understand that there are some skills that you can always improve, only if you want to make a good impression to your prospective employer.
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