Approximately 250 people apply to each corporate job opening, according to Glassdoor data. But only one candidate gets the position. If a potential employer calls you for an interview, congrats! You already made it further than the vast majority have. Now, the interview awaits. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Here’s how a mock interview can help you nail your interview and land the job.
Also called a practice interview, a mock job interview simulates an actual job interview. Generally, career counselors or coaches offer mock interviews, though you could ask a colleague who’s familiar with the interview process. During the mock interview, you act as the interviewee, answering questions delivered to you by the interviewer. The interviewer sets up an environment similar to the one in which you’ll be interviewing. The goal is to prepare you for the real thing.
When you wing an interview, you become much more prone to making costly mistakes. You may ramble, forget to answer a question, or worse, say something NSFW! Nerves can take you in the wrong direction. So don’t wing it. Doing a mock interview will teach you how to answer difficult questions, polish your interview skills, and help you develop interview strategies. Then, you’ll know what to do if you’re at a loss for words (advice: take a deep breath, organize your thoughts, and rely on the talking points you’ve practiced).
Did you know that 92% of American adults get job interview anxiety? Those numbers should shock you. But don’t let your own nervousness cripple you during the interview. As Central Washington University’s Career Services notes, “interview apprehension or even anxiety” can make the interview uncomfortable and affect your performance. By doing a mock interview, you become familiar with interview questions and etiquette, and have the opportunity to practice for the interview in a safe, low-stress environment. This way, you can build confidence and walk into the interview fully prepared and relaxed.
In addition to reducing stress and building confidence, a mock job interview gives you the chance to get constructive feedback from a professional. For instance, when Valparaiso University hosts mock interviews for their students and alumni, they have actual employers give interviews. The employer identifies your strengths and weaknesses, pinpointing where you need to improve (eye contact, slow down when speaking, create a better story about yourself, etc). You can then address any of those concerns and create practical methods for improving your weak points.
First, a mock interview enables you to address questions specific to your education and work history, like how to best explain gaps in your work history. This can empower you to use every aspect of your resume, even areas you feel may appear weak, to your advantage. Second, on top of getting you ready for common interview questions about your work history, a mock interview can test you on behavioral-based interview questions, such as, “How do you handle a challenge? Can you give an example?” During your mock interview, you can learn how to organize your thoughts and provide an articulate response to these questions.
During an interview, you’ll certainly get questions about the company, such as, “What do you think this company can do better?” This enables the interviewer to see if you have genuine interest in the position and offers a window into the sort of value you’ll bring to the table. A mock job interview gives you the chance to practice such questions, as well as learn about and analyze the company with your mock interviewer. As a guide in Inc.com attests, researching your potential employer not only gives you “a better feel for whether you want to work together, but could help identify pain points to bring up during your interview.” Knowing a lot about the company will show you have initiative and are focused on providing value.
Objective feedback is crucial, but can be hard to obtain if you’re just recording yourself answering questions. Having another set of eyes can offer a more objective perspective on the overall quality of your interview abilities. A mock interview enables you to polish every aspect of the interview– from how you shake hands to how you answer questions about yourself. If you want to improve your interview skills prior to the real thing, a mock interview is the most effective way to do so.