Making the Most of a Mock Interview

Mock interviews are one of the most effective ways you can prepare yourself to win every interview. By recording your performance, you can pinpoint each area where you can improve your performance

What are mock interviews? Mock interviews are a staged role play where real interview questions are asked by someone who play the part of an “interviewer” and answered by the “candidate.” Mock interviews are very helpful for getting your timing down and trying out different approaches. At the end of the mock interview, a debrief is held and feedback given.

How do mock interviews differ from practice interviews? A practice interview is a real interview with a real employer with a real job on the line. Yet it is typically a job or an employer in which you have little or no interest in accepting employment. You are interviewing in a real situation in order to practice your interview skills with a real job on the line.

Benefits of mock interviews: Mock interviews offer several benefits:

a. An opportunity to practice questions with which you struggle.

b. An opportunity to practice answering behavioral interview questions.

c. An opportunity to boost your overall confidence.

d. An opportunity to practice your interview soft skills.

e. An opportunity to receive candid feedback to help you improve your skills.

Mock interviews work very well whenever there are two or more people able to work with each other, such as classmates, people in military transition, job clubs, parents and adult children (or siblings) AND where the feedback will be given honestly and received gracefully. Multiple mock interviews can really help someone polish need areas. In any mock interview, you’ll need to infuse as much realism as possible. The downside is that with a friendly partner, there is a tendency to be a little less sharp than when in front of a real employer with a real job on the line.

Videotape yourself in a mock interview. One of the most effective ways you can practice an interview is to videotape yourself. While this may not sound appealing to you at first, it is the best way for you to see yourself in an interview situation the way your interviewers will see you. And it will reveal things that you would otherwise never be conscious of.

It’s easy and inexpensive to do this with today’s smartphones, laptop, and tablet PCs, which just about everyone has. Consult your device’s user’s guide for instruction on how to record. If you are unfamiliar with how to film yourself with your laptop or smartphone, Google the topic videotaping yourself with a laptop {smartphone} to find the answers you need.

Staging the mock interview. In a well-lit area where you can film a full body shot, set up a table and two chairs as your interview area (your kitchen table will work well for this). You need plenty of light, so you could do this outside on a porch or in any room that has strong light. The interviewer and candidate will face each other, not the camera. Set up the camera so that the candidate is completely visible, in order to record body language, mannerisms, and interaction during the mock interview. Dress as you would for an interview. You want to simulate a real interview as much as possible.

The interviewer should utilize a series of interview questions and the candidate should do his or her best to answer them. Capture at least 15 minutes of filming.

Spend time critically reviewing the film and identify what went well and what could be improved. Repeat with different questions and again debrief. Continue several rounds. It should take an investment of less than two hours to gain significant improvement in your interviewing skills.

Bottom Line

Mock interviews are an essential preparatory step in getting a better job faster. They will improve almost every aspect of the way you interview, from your body language and professionalism to your confidence in answering even the most challenging interview questions.

This article was in part excerpted from the seventh edition of the textbook included with the Job Search Readiness Assessment.

I work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. Our extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. Our acclaimed career development tools, the Job Search Readiness Assessment for experienced professionals/skilled workers and Graduate Employment Preparedness Assessment for students/recent grads both assess and explain over 3,000 career.

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