How to Use Mock Interviews to Land Your Dream Job

mock interview practice
Created by CakeResume

Job interviews are tough, and despite all the practice interview questions available, you can never really tell what the interview will be like. Interview format, formality, length and processes can vary greatly between companies and jobs. 

To face the unknown and nail your interview, your best bet is practicing interview questions in a mock interview. Mock job interviews can help you prepare answers to common questions, improve your speaking skills and give you confidence.

What is a Mock Interview?

A mock interview involves practicing interview techniques and answers to imitate a real-world job interview. Essentially, a mock interview is playing ‘pretend’ in a simulated environment, in order to help a job applicant to practice and prepare for the actual interview. 

Similar to an actual interview, a mock interview can be conducted in various ways, in-person, via phone, and through zoom.

Benefits of Mock Interviews

💡 Help reduce stress

Job interviews can be stressful, especially when there's an elaborate interview process or you’re interviewing for your dream job. A mock interview helps you become familiar with the atmosphere of a real job interview, so by the time you’re interviewing, you won’t feel as stressed. 

Getting your stress out by doing mock interview practice ahead of time can help you feel level-headed and think clearly in the real thing.

💡 Help refine answers to behavioral questions

Job interviews will discuss your employment experience, education and technical skills, which have straightforward answers. However, behavioral questions involving problem solving, overcoming challenges and interpersonal dilemmas can be difficult to answer on the spot. 

Practicing behavioral questions in a mock interview can help you refine your answers so they answer the question appropriately. Include behavioral questions in your mock interview preparation to avoid feeling caught off-guard during real interviews.

💡 Provide constructive feedback

A job interview seems like a straight-forward discussion of your experience and potential for the role; however, your answers, tone, presentation and speaking skills can contribute to your evaluation as well. 

Doing a mock job interview can help you identify flaws in your answers, as well as work on aspects of presentation. You only get one shot at a real job interview, so use as many mock interviews as necessary to perfect your interview skills!

💡 Boost your confidence

Interviews can be overwhelming and high-pressure situations. Likewise, you might be interviewing for an ambitious role and feel imposter syndrome creep in. 

By having practice interviews, you will feel prepared and relaxed, boosting your confidence. Interviewers will pick up on your mood and body language, so feeling confident is important!

Different Types of Mock Interviews

Now you’re convinced that you should try a practice interview, try reaching out to one of these places to assist:

📍 School career center

Your school career center should be able to provide you with resources or opportunities for mock interviews. Likewise, you might be able to get industry-specific advice to include when preparing mock interview questions. 

Your school career center might hold group mock interviews for students, or individual sessions. However, these resources might be limited; you might be only allocated one opportunity to conduct a mock interview with their staff. 

📍 Career coach or career counselor

If your school's career center does not have a counselor on staff or you are no longer a student, there are many places online or at your local job centers where you could reach out for a mock interview. 

Career coaches are well versed in many different careers, and can help you move both upwards and laterally in your ideal career. Career coaches will also help you with selling yourself, adjusting your resume and improving interpersonal skills through mock interviews. 

However, career coaching is a career in itself, and therefore you will probably have to pay for coaches’ mock interview services.

📍 Online interview practice programs

If you would like a more dynamic approach to practice interviews, you can try finding an online mock interview program. 

Many of these mock interview programs are more industry-specific and can be done in group sessions, for example, mock coding interviews for software engineers. 

Online mock interviews can be great if you need last-minute preparation; however, the advice might focus more on your answers and less on your speaking and interview skills.

📍 Family members and friends

You might want to practice mock interviews with people you feel comfortable with; in this case, family and friends would be the best option. 

Mock interviews with family members and friends can help you practice without judgment, are free, and can give you interesting perspectives from people with different careers. 

However, you might not take your mock interview as seriously if you are prone to joking with friends, and your friends might not give you honest feedback so as to not hurt your feelings.

How to Prepare for Mock Interviews

✏️ Choose the right mock interviewer

Make sure you do practice interviews with someone who has experience with job interviews themselves. Choosing someone who has relevant industry experience, has interviewed for many jobs or has the career you would like for yourself can make your mock interviews seem realistic. 

This is where career coaches, counselors and practice programs have an advantage, as they are trained and experienced in interviewing. Make sure whoever you choose is willing to be serious enough for a realistic job interview simulation, and won’t joke around or break character during the practice interview.

✏️ Choose a professional setting

It's important to simulate the environment for a job interview during your mock interview. Interviews can make people tense and nervous, especially if it is a one-on-one interview, so getting used to the setting is important. 

If you are using a more casual method for mock interviewing, such as your friends, family or a school career counselor, make sure you simulate a real job interview environment with the setting. Sit at a desk in a quiet room or area without distractions, and avoid libraries, coffee shops or crowded areas to practice your mock interview.

✏️ Provide the mock interviewer with adequate information 

To make sure you simulate the real job interview as closely as possible, provide your mock interviewer with the company, the job posting and your resume. This gives the interviewer context and can help them come up with common and uncommon questions to practice with. 

This way you practice your answers and anticipate unusual questions in your practice job interview that could come up during the real one. 

✏️ Prepare for all types of interview questions

It’s important to practice a realistic structure in your mock interview and be thoroughly prepared. Include all types of interview questions, like general interview questions, role-specific questions and company-specific questions, during your practice interviews. 

Mock interview preparation can involve doing research on the role, company, technical skills, problem solving and career path. Picking tough questions to practice during your mock interview will make the real interview feel easy!

✏️ Review interview criteria

Re-read the job posting and make sure you can use their criteria to sell yourself as their ideal candidate. Additionally, if your interview invitation details the interviewing process, make sure your mock interview reflects this. 

For instance, you might have an HR interview, a managerial one, or a technical one. Each focuses on different aspects of your skills and traits and assesses you by different criteria. Plan your mock technical interviews accordingly.

✏️ Take notes

During your mock interview, you might find that there are questions that you have trouble answering, or you might forget certain interview etiquette. 

When you identify a problem area in your mock interview, make notes of it so you can strengthen your answer in the real interview. Likewise, you might ask your mock interviewer to make notes too, so you have feedback from a different perspective.

✏️ Dress in formal interview attire

When simulating a job interview, it's important to practice every aspect of one – down to your outfit. Job interviews can be stressful and nerve-wracking, and the last thing you want is to be distracted by your clothes! 

Try and identify how you react under pressure during your mock interview and dress accordingly. For instance, avoid wearing clothes that cause overheating, make too much noise or are too distracting during your mock interview. 

✏️ Film your mock interview

If you do not have the opportunity to practice multiple mock interviews, you can film your practice interviews to review later. 

Filming your mock interview means you can review tone, posture, nervous habits and your answers so that you can improve upon them before the real interview. You could also send your mock interview to a career counselor or friend for the feedback! 

🔑 Key Takeaways:

A mock interview is a great way of handling the stress of a job interview in advance. Being prepared for the range of questions and atmosphere of a job interview can make you seem confident, something interviewers look out for. 

Mock interview preparation should simulate a real job interview, so having the right setting, interviewer and discussion points is important. Since you landed an interview, you already meet the requirements for the role – build up your confidence in mock interviews and land your dream job!

With CakeResume, you can easily create a resume online, free download your resume in PDF, and utilize ATS-compliant templates to create a resume. Land your dream job, create your resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by Bronte McNamara ---

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