Top-tier candidates are well aware of their need to research the employer/interviewer and prepare specific answers and questions. However, researching and preparing notes can only get you so far. One of the best methods to increase your readiness level is experience, which can be replicated through an organized mock interview. Rehearsing an upcoming job interview is a great strategy to boost confidence and refine interpersonal skills in a safe, low-risk environment.
What is a mock interview? It does not involve the actual employer but instead operates as a role-playing exercise enlisting the support of a career mentor, a former professor or colleague, or a close friend/family member.
What are the benefits? Walking through the interview process without real pressure allows the analysis of your strengths and weaknesses when attempting to market yourself effectively. Highlighting your strengths will help you sound more personable and less rehearsed. It also allows you to forge thoughtful responses, improve nonverbal communication, and eliminate ‘filler’ words such as ‘um,’ ‘uh,’ and ‘like.’
Courtesy of the career experts at Indeed, we reveal seven steps to take in preparation for your mock interview and how to make the most of it:
1. Dress appropriately.
Your interview attire is the genuine first impression for the employer, and it has the power to positively or negatively impact your candidacy. Don’t just roll out of bed knowing the interview isn’t for real or is being conducted virtually; the way you dress has the power to impact how you conduct yourself. You’ll want to hear feedback on how you presented yourself, and that includes your attire. Any signs of laziness or disinterest will carry over into your real-life interview in ways you may not realize.
2. Mimic the interview setting.
Whether online, in-person, or over the phone, make a conscious effort to emulate your interview setting to the best of your ability. Setting the proper scene will allow you to feel more comfortable and attuned to the environment. For example, if your prospective employer already sent you the address to a local coffee shop, utilize the knowledge to your advantage by inviting your mock interviewer to the exact location. Take into consideration the noise volume, physical surroundings, and size of the tables where you will place your resume and other documents. If the employer sent you a Zoom invite, request that your mock interviewer do the same and isolate yourself into a quiet, enclosed area with a quality internet connection.
3. Choose the right interviewer.
Whether it is a close family member or friend, or a career mentor, make sure your choice is someone capable of asking tough questions, detail-centric, and willing to provide honest feedback. Another great option is to tap into your university’s career center or alumni center to check if they offer mock interviews with their faculty.
4. Bring your resume and other necessary materials.
Be thorough in your document presentation by bringing extra copies of your resume, portfolio, a notepad, and written references. Aim to discover your mock interviewer’s thoughts on your materials and what else your intended industry and position may demand.
Be sure to review Indeed’s Job Interview Walkthrough [Video] in their new ‘Job Science’ segment here.
5. Take your time answering questions.
In their ‘Job Science’ segment, a spin-off of ESPN’s Sport Science, Indeed aims to review and dissect the interview experience through data analysis. In their mock video, the moderator recognizes the importance of being patient in conversation and not rushing into a response.
Your interviewer wants to hear what makes you unique and what you can bring to the table. If forming an honest answer requires you to briefly pause in thought, aligning your past experiences with future goals, your interviewer will admire your poise.
One excellent method to providing thoughtful answers with real-life examples is through the STAR Approach. These four steps will allow you to walk through all the basic interview questions without rambling on. You can get your best stories out there and take advantage of every opportunity to connect with your interviewer, but leave it up to them to ask you for more details.
- Situation – Set the story and provide all the necessary details of your example.
- Task – Describe the responsibility given to you and, if applicable, how it’s tied to an overarching goal
- Action – Thoroughly explain what steps you took and WHY.
- Results – Reveal how the outcome was for the greater good of the company, not just yourself.
6. Research the company.
Any interviewer will notice right away if you failed to conduct fundamental research into their website. Asking overly basic questions about their core values, mission statement, top competitors, or target audience will reveal a lack of preparation and interest. Asking questions you can quickly find online will be a ‘red flag’ to employers. Give respect to your interviewer and make the most of their time and yours by doing your homework.
From their blog to various social platforms, there is no reason not to view every page on their website. Additionally, visiting the company’s Glassdoor or Indeed company pages will highlight their strengths and weaknesses, as told by their employees. These links will offer a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look into their culture, highlight any awards, and provide key insight into their brand reputation.
7. Record it.
Your mock interview will provide great experience to help you work through any nerves and constructive feedback to craft your responses in real-time. However, adding a video review will allow you to assess your body language and finetune your answers even further. Pay close attention to your posture, eye contact, voice tone/speed, and any fidgeting you may want to extract. If you notice any wordiness, overuse of ‘filler words,’ or a lack of confidence, you may want to work through your responses and set up another mock interview.
Assess your interview skills and ensure your level of preparedness following TopResume’s list of questions here.