Facing a potential employer in the interview setting can be a challenging, and sometimes even intimidating, step in the hiring process. Faring well in the interview is crucial for hiring, so being as well prepared as possible is key. One preparation tool that often proves useful for behaving with grace during the real interview is the mock interview.
The mock interview simulates the real-life interaction between you and the hiring manager. The person or persons who help you can advise you on your behavior and test you with questions you may face during the real thing. In this article, we outline what a mock interview is, options for mock interviews, how to prepare for mock interviews and examples of mock interview questions that can be asked while preparing for a real interview.
Read more: How To Ace Your Final Interview
What is a mock interview?
A mock interview really is just a practice interview for a job interview. In this environment, you can test your answers to tough questions, create and improve strategies and enhance your communication skills and delivery of your responses.
You can have a mock interview with any individual who has previous experience working with others in a way that enables them to speak to success during a real interview. It's helpful for them to have work experience related to the job you're pursuing as they'll be able to provide deeper insight and questioning.
Read more: 12 Tough Interview Questions and Answers
Options for mock interviews
Since the mock interview is conducted entirely dependent of the actual hiring process, you have the freedom of creating the scenario to your liking. Here are some options you can select to conduct your mock interview:
1. Mock interview with a career counselor
A career counselor is an individual who gives professional advice to those seeking to advance their careers. Conducting a mock interview with a career counselor can provide you tips and tools to use later when speaking with an actual hiring manager. This is helpful if you're interviewing for your first professional job or internship, as you will gain a good introduction to interview etiquette.
Check the professional background of your career counselor before scheduling your mock interview with them, so you can see if their experience matches with the job you're seeking. A career counselor is also a good source for expanding your professional network to build more connections to lead you toward more job opportunities. Schedule a time to meet with them to begin building an ongoing relationship.
2. Mock interview with a mentor
A mentor is someone that can render you advice, motivation and emotional support throughout your job search. They can evoke a response from you on the trajectory of your career path and have a more personalized approach to coaching you while addressing different methods of success.
One way to find a mentor is to seek out a professional within your desired field with an informational interview. During or as a follow-up to that interview, find out if they're willing to mentor you and, in turn, help you perform a mock interview to increase your confidence going into your next interview with an employer.
3. In-person mock interview with a colleague
A colleague can simply be a friend from school or in the workplace. It's best to use a colleague for a mock interview if you're interviewing for a position that they have held in the past. Your mock interview may be more informal, but you should still get honest answers from questions that you've prepared and perhaps some further insight about the company or position.
4. Mock interview with a friend
Your friend is some that can give you a lot of emotional support if they assist in administering a mock interview. Meeting with them can ease the stress that you have going into the interview. Your friend can also use their professional experience and display tips that can relate to your interview.
5. Mock interview with a family member
Mock interviewing with family members can provide the necessary emotional support to make you more comfortable for the day of the interview. However, you may want to outline your expectations for the advice you're looking to receive from them to help you gain productive feedback based on their personal experience in the workplace.
A family member can work with you on simplifying your responses to general interview questions. If you're trying to answer how you describe yourself, you can communicate your answer to a family member. Also, they can help you brainstorm ideas to make it more concise since you're going off of a time limit.
How to prepare for mock interviews
Just as with a real interview, you should come prepared. After all, the mock interview is indeed an exercise in interview preparation. Review this step-by-step guide to help you prepare for your next mock interview:
- Bring all the materials you need for a real interview.
- Take notes during each mock interview.
- Always wear professional attire.
- Record your responses.
1. Bring all the materials you need for a real interview
Preparing for your mock interview like a real interview means bringing all the necessary materials such as your resume, pen and notepad, especially if you're meeting the mock interviewer for the first time. The way you present yourself during a mock interview can be an indicator of your performance when you meet with a hiring manager.
2. Take notes during each mock interview
Be sure that you're engaged during your mock interview, which will enable you to take good notes to further prepare on your own time. Bring questions for the interviewer and organize your notes accordingly. You should also try out your planned responses for general questions about your background and work style.
3. Always wear professional attire
It's best to dress professionally for any interview, even the mock interview, as you want to create a believable experience and assess the impression you make. Try to research modern style trends to get more inspiration for professional attire.
4. Record your responses
Be sure to bring your smartphone or a separate recording device to record your response. You want to ensure that you're speaking clearly for your responses to be heard. Check with your mock interviewer to see which device is best for recording before you proceed.
Examples of mock interview questions
A mock interview usually addresses questions that can be asked during the screening phase of the interview. However, you can still use this for the final round of interviewing depending on the mock interviewer's familiarity with the field. Here are examples of questions that can be asked during a mock interview:
- How do you view yourself? Do you compare yourself to someone in particular?
- What motivates you?
- What can do you better for us than the rest of the competition?
- What strength will help you succeed?
How do you view yourself? Do you compare yourself to anyone in particular?
The question evaluates your self-worth. The more you value yourself, the more confidence you have in working for an employer that aligns with your career goals. You'll want to compare yourself to someone that's been a role model in your life. Friends and family members can be good answers, but you could refer to mentors, professors or an individual in business.
What motivates you?
You'll need to examine your core values to see what inspires you to reach your career goals. You can speak with the mock interviewer about answers to this question. You'll have to answer important life questions that take an in-depth look at your personal experience that can shape your core values. Take more time to reflect outside of the mock interview to produce a noteworthy response in your next interview.
What can do you better for us than the rest of the competition?
This question allows you to sell your abilities and any contributions you can make to a company's culture. Review your past accomplishments and see where you can mention them in your response. List the most important contributions first then before moving onto other duties you've performed throughout your career.
What strength will help you succeed?
Spend time with the mock interviewer going over your strengths and weaknesses. Take time to see how they've had an impact on others in the workplace, and how you can use your skill set to improve your performance and the company you're interviewing with.