How to Prepare for a Mock Interview

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Mock interviews are a great way to prepare for real interviews because interviewing is a learned skill and requires practice for improvement. Choosing the appropriate mock interviewer can provide a safe environment where you can practice your skills and get honest feedback. Explore the different types of mock interviews such as in-person and online and review our list of tips to prepare for an interview.

What is a mock interview?

A mock interview is a job interview simulation used for training purposes. This question and answer format exercise helps set your expectations and improves your interview skills. Mock interviews are often videotaped or recorded so that you can study your performance. There are two main types of mock interviews: in-person and online. In-person interviews are conducted together with the interviewer and interviewee in the same room. Online mock interviews are often conducted either over a virtual phone or video call.

What to expect from an in-person mock interview

At an in-person mock interview, the interviewer enters the same room as you. Dress for the occasion with appropriate shirt, pants and shoes for the job. Introduce yourself with a friendly and firm handshake and only sit once they either offer you a seat or they sit first. Take note of the interviewer’s body language and imitate it. For example, after both of you sit down, if the interviewer crosses their legs, you do the same. However, be subtle about your imitation. The idea is to put both parties at ease.

What to expect from an online mock interview

In preparation for an online interview, address any potential technical problems before it begins. Test your internet connection as well as your audio and recording devices, ensuring everything functions properly. When the interviewer calls in, provide a friendly greeting and introduce yourself. Both parties only see the other from the chest up, in most circumstances. Put less emphasis on matching body language and focus more on facial expressions. When the interviewer speaks, show genuine interest and keep eye contact. Pay attention to all they say and prepare yourself to answer questions as necessary.

Tips to prepare for a mock interview

The following list outlines some of the best tips for preparing for a mock interview:

Choose the right interviewer

Your interviewer should have some knowledge or background in the field you’re applying to. They need to develop questions relevant to the field and understand what makes a good answer to each question. Additionally, at the end of the interview, your interview should give you proper feedback to your responses and note where you did well and where you may need improvement. Their ability to provide feedback is crucial to your overall improvement with the mock interview process.

Dress appropriately

Your physical appearance is the first thing an interviewer notices. Even in a mock interview, dress appropriately for the role you’re practicing for. Your style may be different, depending on the industry, however, it’s best to go just beyond the normal dress code requirement for your interview. For example, if your industry often allows business casual attire, dress even more professionally with a suit and tie.

Bring your resume

Whether in-person or online, bring copies of your resume, portfolio or any other supporting materials. Even if the interviewer has a copy of your materials, it’s best to have your own so that you can follow along as they point items out. If you have a website to share, have it ready on a laptop in-person or ready for screen sharing in a video.

Research the company

As with any interview, research the company before going in. Read through their history, their values and their motto, if they have one. Look up specific executives and discover their interests. As you answer questions or ask your interviewer your own questions, mention your findings as necessary. This shows that you know the company and its people, making you a preferred candidate.

Examples of questions to prepare for an interview

Here is a  list of examples questions to help you prepare for an interview:

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Although it’s an open-ended question, stray away from broad answers and focus on your resume and work history. If you have any interests that align with your career, expand upon those as well. Try not to overthink a question like this. In most cases, it’s only meant to give the interviewer a better understanding of who you are.

What attracted you to our company?

This is a great question to employ your research with. Honestly explain what made this company stand out to you and provide examples from their website or social media. If your values align with theirs, let your interviewer know. Reference a specific article or post where that information became public. To further your stance, introduce a situation in which you employed those beliefs or values in the workplace.

What are your goals?

This is another question that’s simpler than you might think. The interviewer wants to know your goals as another way of understanding who you are and what you want to accomplish. For example, if you explain that you’re looking for a long and successful career in this industry, they might translate that as you want to stay and grow with them for the foreseeable future. If they’re looking for candidates interested in long-term employment, this makes you stand out.

What questions do you have for me?

Your previous research gives you the advantage of answering a question like this. Although it’s not often detrimental, having no follow-up questions for your interviewer is sometimes looked down upon. Prepare a list of possible questions ahead of time either involving the company as a whole or the interviewer as an individual. For example, you might mention the interviewer’s interest in tennis expressed on their social media page and find commonality there.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Answering this question not only deepens who you are to the interviewer but also shows how great you were in a previous position. It even sheds light on the great work you could do in the new position. Consider your previous work history or your time in college and determine what your biggest success was. It could be a paper you wrote and won an award for during school or a specific improvement you brought to your previous job. For example, you might say you increased customer retention by 20% during your time there.

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