Many career coaches and consultants offer mock-interview training, as do most college career-services offices.
Students who’ve undergone such interviews have praised them for their similarity to real interviews, their ability to build confidence, and their emphasis on the importance of tailoring interview responses to the job, as well as the need for the interviewee to research the employer, develop examples that illustrate qualifications, and ask questions in the interview. Vault.com reports that some students schedule a mock interview just an hour or so before a real interview so the feedback is fresh in their minds.
Stephanie Milner, a diabetic care specialist doing pharmaceutical sales for Novo Nordisk, cites the value of mock interviews in preparing for the behavioral style of interview questions that most pharmaceutical firms ask. “These questions often vary and are rated,” Milner reports. “When the interview is complete, they add up a score and determine if you are “the right stuff.’ Mock interviews forced me to think! I had to think about the perfect experience. Companies want to see how you resolve issues. The S(T)AR form of answers was wonderful, because you have to give the results. That is what companies want!”
Procedures may vary as to whether you’re required to wear interview attire for the mock interview, but it’s always best to do so because you’ll come closer to simulating a real interview. You’ll find out how it feels to wear your “dress-for-success” duds in an interview situation and perhaps get a confidence boost from how spiffy you look.
While it can be helpful to conduct the interview in a venue where you won’t be interrupted, you may actually want your interviewer to create some interruptions to better simulate an actual interview. Take the mock interview seriously, and try to think of it as the real thing. Ask your interviewer to hit you with the trickiest and most difficult questions an employer might ask you.
Consider conducting mock interviews with a variety of people to get some different perspectives. If you’ve been doing them with career professionals, add friends to the mix and vice versa. Your friends may be more honest with you about any shortcomings they see in your interview performance.
Videotaped Mock Interviews
Mock interviews provide especially valuable preparation if you can have them videotaped. A videotaped mock interview that focuses on the non-verbal aspects of your performance — smile, enthusiasm, energy level, personality, confidence, voice, attire, posture, hand gestures, inappropriate body language — can be particularly worthwhile because many people exhibit behaviors while interviewing that they’re not even aware of. I once had a student who had no idea during a mock interview that he kept swishing his hand back and forth across the tabletop, as though he were brushing crumbs away. Another sniffed loudly and rhythmically throughout the interview. Both were nervous habits that the interviewees had no awareness of. You can conduct a mock interview with a friend and have the friend critiqueonly your nonverbals. Or videotape yourself and conduct one review of the tape in which you focus just on the nonverbals. Among the bad habits and inappropriate body language you should be looking for: