Job Interview Preparation: Using the Mock Interview (Questions Included)

Job Interview Preparation: Using the Mock Interview (Questions Included)
Job Interview Preparation: Using the Mock Interview (Questions Included)

4 March, 2021

By Mike Simpson

Did you know that you may only have 27 seconds to make a great first impression during your interview? It’s true. Hiring managers start sizing you up quickly, so seizing every advantage to get your interview right is a must. That’s where a mock interview comes in.

With a mock interview, you can make sure that you don’t just nail those initial few moments but the entire meeting. It’s the best way to prepare for a typical 45 minute to one hour interview, ensuring you can shine at every step of the way.

But what is a mock interview? And what mock interview questions should you include? Well, we’re about to tell you all of that and more. So, without any further ado, let’s dig in.

What Is a Mock Interview?

A mock interview is a formal approach for interview practice. Instead of reviewing questions and crafting answers all on your lonesome, you’ll team up with a friend, family member, or trusted colleague who will step into the role of interviewer.

Plus, you’ll take extra steps to really mimic the real experience of meeting with a hiring manager, including dressing the part and setting the scene. That way, the practice interview experience aligns closer with reality.

During a mock interview, you’ll sit down with your mock interviewer. They will then ask you practice interview questions, giving you a chance to deliver your answers to a real, live person.

It’s a great way to hone your responses as well as master your body language. Someone will be there with you, observing your mannerisms and listening to your answers. Then, when your mock interview is done, they can provide you with helpful feedback.

Generally, anyone can serve as your practice interviewer. You’ll just need to hand them a list of mock interview questions – which we’ll dig into here in a bit – and they’ll be ready to go.

Now, is it impossible to do a mock interview solo? Well, not necessarily. It does mean you’ll miss out on feedback, which is a bummer. But if you really can’t coordinate a practice interview with someone, you can do it alone.

Ideally, you’ll want to grab a list of mock interview questions. Then, you can recite each one before giving your answer.

MIKE’S TIP: If you do record your solo practice interview, you can review the footage to identify missteps. This can be great for checking your body language, as well as how smoothly you’re able to respond. Plus, you could even send the video to someone else, allowing you to get feedback.

However, this method doesn’t perfectly align with a partner mock interview. You aren’t recreating a traditional interview experience, so the solo approach might not give you as much as you’d get from working with someone.

How to Prepare for a Mock Interview

Preparing for a mock interview is a bit different from simply practicing your answers. You want to really recreate the interview experience, so you do need to go the extra mile.

To help you on your journey, we’ve created a handy, dandy step-by-step guide. Plus, we also share some extra tips that can help you shine.

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Gather Your Mock Interview Questions

Before your practice interview, you want to create a questions list for your interviewer. That way, what they ask is relevant to the kinds of roles you want to land. Plus, you can use it as a cheat sheet for pre-interview practice.

2. Do Some Preparation

You want to treat a practice interview like the real thing. How do you do that? By tackling some research and preparing your answers.

Begin by reviewing the job description for insights about critical skills and traits the hiring manager wants to find. Look at the role’s duties so that you can pick highly relevant examples. Explore the company’s website to learn more about the organization’s mission, values, products, and services.

Then, take a deep dive into the Tailoring Method. That way, you can create highly relevant responses based on the position.

3. Find a Mock Interviewer

If possible, you want to find a person who is familiar with your job, field, or industry to serve as your practice interviewer. That way, they can provide you with more valuable feedback as they’ll have a better idea of what hiring managers in your niche want to find.

However, if you don’t have access to that kind of person, simply choose someone who is comfortable with giving open, honest feedback.

There are mock interview services that can step in, but those do come with a price tag. Still, they can be a great option, particularly if you want an experienced practice interviewer.

4. Wear Your Interview Outfit

Ideally, you want your mock interview to be just like the real deal, so you need to dress the part. Plus, it lets you test run your interview outfit. You can figure out if it is comfortable enough, fits properly, and everything else before the big day.

5. Set the Scene

If you can recreate a typical interview space, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the experience with greater ease. Create a setting that matches what you typically find during an interview.

For example, two chairs on either side of a desk or table can work for mimicking the in-person interview. If you’ll interview online, hop on a video chat service and sit in the spot you plan on using for your next meeting.

6. Give Your Interviewer an Overview

Unless your mock interviewer happens to hire people in jobs like yours, it’s smart to go over the job description, practice interview questions, and other details before you get underway. Essentially, you’ll familiarize them with the criteria, ensuring they are comfortable with the material and can assume the right perspective.

It’s also an excellent idea to give them a copy of your resume. That way, they have the same kind of starting details a hiring manager would have.

7. Maintain the Right Pace

If you want to mirror the traditional interview experience, use a similar pace. Dedicate up to one hour for the mock interview. That way, you can make sure your responses fit into the allotted timeframe and that you’re ready for how long the meeting will potentially last.

8. Accept Feedback and Adjust

Once you gather feedback, use it to identify areas for improvement that you can practice before your next job interview. While you don’t necessarily have to take every piece of advice, it’s wise to really take in everything that’s shared. Ultimately, you’re trying to become the best candidate you can be, so if a change to your approach can help you do that, why not give it some genuine consideration?

Bonus Tips for a Successful Mock Interview

If you want to really mimic the genuine experience, don’t pause in the middle of your mock interview for feedback. Instead, encourage your practice interviewer to take notes about what they want to share and go over that information after the interview wraps up. That way, you can maintain a level of flow through the questions without missing out on helpful insights.

Additionally, when you pick a person to interview you, make sure they can be objective. At times, this is tricky if you’re relying on friends or family, as they may be uncomfortable telling you something negative to your face. However, if you can’t get someone who is automatically impartial, let the interviewer know how important honest feedback is, as that may help them overcome any reservations about being truthful.

Mock Interview Questions

If you’ve been itching for some mock interview questions, now is the time to get excited. Here is an overview of how to choose the right questions for your practice interview, as well as a set of ten outstanding mock interview questions you might want to include in your list.

How to Choose Effective Mock Interview Questions

When you choose practice interview questions, you need to cover two bases. First, you want to include some traditional job interview questions that nearly every candidate encounters. This includes classics like “tell me about yourself” and “why are you interested in this position.” As well as the trickier behavioral interview questions that you’ll almost certainly face as well.

Second, you’ll need to work in some job-specific questions. For example, if you’re in the data analytics field, then you might want to gather some data analyst interview questions. After all, the hiring manager is going to spend a decent amount of time asking questions that directly align with the role, so it’s smart to have some added to the mix.

Finally, make sure you also have “do you have any questions for me” in there. At the end of an interview, that one is almost guaranteed to come up. It’s smart to have a response ready even if your mock interviewer can’t answer what you ask. That way, you can get comfortable with it before your next actual interview.

10 Common Mock Interview Questions (and Why They’re Good)

1. Tell me about yourself

If you want to use the most classic start to an interview, then “tell me about yourself” needs to be on your list of practice interview questions. That way, you can rehearse your introduction, making sure you can share it with ease and that it genuinely packs a punch.

2. Why do you want this job?

Another quintessential question, being able to describe why a particular role interests you is crucial. By practicing highlighting the aspects of the position that intrigue you, as well as how your skills are a great match, you’ll be able to position yourself as an excellent candidate early in the meeting.

3. What is your greatest strength?

Hiring managers ask almost every job seeker about their greatest strength, so it’s a good question to add to your mock interview. Along with discussing skills, make sure you can reference specific examples highlighting the chosen capabilities. That way, you’re showing them why you’re amazing in that area and not just telling them.

4. What is your greatest weakness?

This interview question is always a doozy. It’s hard to talk about your shortcomings, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with this one before your next real interview.

We’ve actually taken a deep dive into the “what is your greatest weakness” interview question before. So, if you don’t know where to begin, give it a look.

5. Tell me about a challenge you faced on the job and how you overcame it

Hiring managers want to know that when you’re faced with adversity, you can persevere. By adding this prompt to your list, you can learn to share an example that will really resonate.

6. Why are you leaving / did you leave your last job?

This question is almost guaranteed to come up, regardless of your chosen field. Depending on why you left (or are hoping to leave), the answer can be tricky. For example, you need to approach things differently if you were laid off vs. fired, as well as if you’re still employed.

7. Explain this gap in your resume

Another difficult topic is gaps in your resume. If there is a large gap, there’s a good chance that the hiring manager will ask about it, so you might want to prepare for that inevitability by having this question on your list.

When it comes to how to explain gaps in your employment, you need to adjust your response based on the situation. That way, you can showcase yourself in the best light no matter the reason.

8. Can you describe your ideal work environment?

Hiring managers have to figure out not just if you’re a match based on your skills but if you’ll fit into the company’s culture. By practicing this question, you can learn to reference details about the organization’s mission, values, or anything else that positions you as a match.

9. Give me an example of a time you had a conflict with a coworker. How did you resolve it?

Conflict in the workplace can derail entire teams, departments, and even organizations. Hiring managers want to know that you can navigate the complexities of working with different people successfully. Ideally, you want to practice an answer that shows your capable of compromise, active listening, and empathy, as well as overcoming personality differences to achieve common goals.

10. Why should we hire you?

This question can feel incredibly daunting, mainly because you have to explain precisely why you’re awesome without coming across as arrogant. That can be a surprisingly fine line, which is why adding it to your mock interview and getting feedback on your response is such a smart move.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, a mock interview is an amazing tool. It lets you prepare for meeting with a hiring manager, gather feedback, and otherwise take steps to improve your performance.

Just make sure your practice interview questions list includes general and job-specific questions. Additionally, make every effort to match the real experience. That way, you’re mock interview will provide you with the most value, increasing the odds that you’ll shine as a candidate and land the job you’ve got your eye on.

Good luck!

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