How To Prepare For A Mock Interview (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 4, 2020

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When applying to a new job, one of the most important steps in the process is to land an interview.

As exciting as it can be to get the phone call or email to move forward, the thought of the interview stage can be somewhat intimidating. That is why taking the time to practice and learn how to answer certain interview questions can be extremely beneficial.

Mock interviews are an excellent way to boost your confidence and prepare you for interview questions, whether behavioral, situational, or skills-based.

The best way to get better at any skill is practice, and the more you go over your responses the more natural you will be in a real interview setting. Understanding what a mock interview is, learning how to prepare, and reviewing examples of common interview questions will help you get rid of any lingering nerves.

What is a Mock Interview?

A mock interview is a staged job interview that allows a job seeker to mirror the real experience. During the mock interview, the interviewee will be able to practice providing multiple answers to potential questions, giving them the chance to find the best fit.

This is particularly helpful as there are certain hings a candidate should never say in an interview, and rehearsing difficult questions can help mitigate the risk. The candidate is also able to become more familiar with a professional interview setting, whether online, in-person, or via telephone.

When it comes to who will play the role of interviewer, you have unlimited options. While a professional such as a student services counselor is the best option due to their expertise and knowledge of career development, anyone can conduct the interview. You just want to make sure that the person you choose will be able to provide feedback on both your strengths and weaknesses.

How to Prepare for Mock Interviews

The same level of professionalism you would exhibit during a real interview is required for a mock interview. That means that you will need to make the same considerations when it comes to how you prepare. Use these steps as a checklist:

  1. Select a professional location. Your mock interview environment should be as close to your actual interview setting as possible. If you are using a career counselor or other professional at a designated center, they will specify the location.

    If this is at a traditional office location, you should anticipate that there will be a desk or table where you are able to be face-to-face with the interviewer.

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time
    Internship
    Temporary

    For a phone mock interview, make sure on your end that you are in an area where you will get good reception. There should be no background noise and no potential distractions.

    These are similar points to keep in mind for a video mock interview. Set up your computer or tablet in a tidy, quiet area of your home. Make sure your laptop is charged and test the camera and microphone beforehand to avoid any glitches.

  2. Prepare the interviewer. You should also give your mock interviewer background on the position or field you are interested in prior to the interview. This way, they can more easily come up with questions that mimic what your potential employer might ask.

  3. Prepare yourself. Make yourself a list of common interview questions and answers. You should go over these prior to the mock interview. You want to have thoughtful, concise answers during a job interview, and rehearsing them can help to improve your delivery.

  4. Dress professionally. First impressions are everything, and you want to wow your mock interviewer just as you would your recruiter. Wear professional attire that matches the work culture of the company you applied with. This is also one of the criteria that the mock interviewer will be providing feedback on.

  5. Get there early. A familiar saying goes, “if you’re on time, you’re late”. Arrive 10 – 15 minutes early to your interview to show your mock interviewer that you are punctual, something that your hiring manager will also appreciate.

  6. Bring a notepad. The goal of a mock interview is to get constructive feedback in preparation for a real interview. That means you should bring a professional notebook or portfolio that you can take notes in. This makes it easy to review the points that were discussed during the process.

With a solid understanding and background of the process, it’s time to dive into how to navigate your mock interview. You should be well equipped with examples and be comfortable setting up your own interview with a friend or family member.

Example Mock Interview Questions

Your mock interview questions will differ based on your goals. For example, if you are doing a practice interview to gain more overall experience, your interviewer will likely stick to general interview questions. Some of these might include:

  • Can you tell me about your most recent job experience?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • Why do you want to work here?

  • What are your salary expectations for the position?

  • What makes you a perfect fit for the role?

It is also possible that you already have a job interview lined up and are doing a mock interview beforehand. In this case, understanding and preparing your mock interviewer with information on the position and company is crucial. In any scenario, you need to furnish a copy of your resume. Additionally, you’ll want to provide the job description and any other details you have on the company.

This prep will allow the interviewer to closely cater questions to the role and also try and match the company culture. Your interviewer may also look at job review sites to get a better idea of common questions and employee feedback.

How To Set An In-Person Mock Interview

Though using a career services counselor is the first place most job seekers look, there may be times that you opt to use a relative or friend. These are both great options for mock interviews, there are just a few things to keep in mind when setting up this type of in-person mock interview.

First and foremost, make sure to choose the right person. Your friend or family member may not be a career professional, but they should still be knowledgeable on the job and your goals. They should be a trusted source of feedback, being able to assess your strengths and areas of opportunity after the interview has concluded.

After you have selected your interviewer, it is your responsibility to provide them with your resume and a syllabus or list of interview questions. This way, you know that they are asking targeted questions that will help you with your interviewing skills.

Lastly, treat your scheduled mock interview as if it were real. You want to get the most out of the experience and using the same level of professionalism is key.

Online Mock Interview Options

There are a few different ways that you can have an online mock interview. The ideal online program will allow you to have a live, virtual interview with a career development professional.

This scenario is the most similar to a real interview that an employer might conduct over Zoom or Google Meet. Over a recorded meeting room, the interviewer will ask you questions, you will respond with your answers, and then the interviewer will provide feedback after review.

Another type of online mock interview is with pre-recorded mock interviewer that asks questions from a pre-determined bank. These questions may be general, or, related to a specific career path. You can then answer each question and the program will send you your evaluation within a specified timeframe.

You might also opt to do a mock interview online that involves you giving responses that are verbal, written, or a combination of both.

Why Should You Do Mock Interviews?

Even for the most seasoned interviewees, mock interviews are always beneficial. The practice rounds do much more than just prepare you for an interview.

Everyone has their strengths and areas of improvement. You may be able to recall rehearsed questions easily, but how do you handle tricky and less expected questions? You could be an effective communicator overall, but how is your body language during an interview?

A mock interview gives you the benefit of honing in on specific areas that you may not realize are lacking. This is also where selecting the right interviewer comes into play, as they should have this type of foresight.

Unlike your actual interview which is final, a practice interview gives you the chance to strategize. Based on the success of how you answer your questions, you might realize that you are not describing yourself as favorably as you should. You might find that you should focus more on transferable skills, or perhaps your accomplishments versus other aspects to have a stronger response.

You should do mock interviews to give you the best chance possible at having a good interview with a recruiter. Practice never hurts, and it is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with being in an interview room. As long as you make sure that your mock interview is as close to the real thing as possible, you will gain plenty of helpful insight on yourself as a job candidate.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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