Why are Mock Interviews so Important?
According to research, over 50% of recruiters and employers state that it takes an average of three interviews before a candidate will receive an offer.
However, for those in search of their first job, or for those with little interview experience, the number of employers they talk to before landing a job might be much higher than that. In these cases, thorough preparation is needed.
So, why are mock interviews so important? In what follows, we’ll not only answer this question, we’ll also provide a few quick and useful tips on how to get the most out of your mock interviews in order to nail the real thing.
These are the main skills for a job interview which you should work on:
Confidence and assertiveness
What is a mock interview?
A mock interview is a simulation of a job interview that is undertaken in order to train the interviewee for the real thing. The mock seeks to replicate the conditions of the real experience as closely as possible. The purpose is to gauge how the interviewee would react in situations that may arise; it’s also a way to pre-empt any issues that may come up.
Mock interviews are a great way to improve your odds of landing a job quickly. Nailing your interview technique before walking into the first meeting with your potential employers can really boost your chances of success.
What skills should you focus on?
Presentation skills are extremely important in a job interview situation. You need to be able to speak confidently at length about your career so far while making sure to highlight relevant experiences which have shaped you along the way. This is why your mock interview should be spent thinking about how you present yourself and refining it. If you know you’ll be interviewing for a range of different types of jobs, consider having a number of approaches ready to be used depending on the skills and focus the employer looks for.
Being able to keep your composure when asked a question which you didn’t expect is an invaluable skill in interview situations. During your mock, practice answering questions about topics you are not prepared for. Being able to come up with convincing answers on the spot can help you to turn negatives into positives and help you out of tight jams.
Oftentimes people don’t give themselves enough credit, thinking they have less to offer on a subject than they in fact do. Being able to speak about a topic authoritatively even when you know little about it will bolster your confidence and allow you to speak freely and assuredly about topics with which you are familiar.
Listening and building a natural conversation
This point ties in with the previous one. The key to effective improvisation is to build on what the other person has said before. You must listen carefully to what your interviewer has said before and identify what answer or follow-up would be best is important. If you’re not comfortable speaking at length about a topic that has been introduced by your interviewer, making a short qualifying remark and asking an interesting question will be enough. This will show your interviewer that you’re an attentive active listener and are genuinely interested in learning more and growing in the role.
Practice listening to questions on a topic you’re not an expert on and then coming up with a few interesting questions related to it. Taking a course on effective communication could also be a great way to boost these skills.
Also, if you’re the type of person who has trouble being assertive, or is a bit shy, you could try an assertiveness skills course. Interviewers like people who are confident and will sometimes even look past slight professional shortcomings if they like your personality and think you’d be a good fit for the company. Being assertive in an interview doesn’t mean completely taking over the conversation or cutting your interviewers off (which is something you should never do); it means giving the impression that you know you’re right for the role and providing well thought out arguments which back this up.
Who should your mock interviewer be?
At the beginning, your mock interviewer should be a person who is close to you, someone who you’re comfortable around, and someone whose opinion you value and trust. You should have a detailed conversation with them about how you can improve how you present yourself and your answers after each mock interview. While pausing mid-interview for feedback isn’t the best option, since you want to keep the flow going, sometimes there are pressing issues which just can’t wait. Ironing out any deficiencies during the mock shouldn’t be a problem as long as you don’t use your questions as an excuse to give yourself a break when you’re feeling uncomfortable. The process is all about getting used to unusual situations and making the most of them.
Once you’ve gone through a few interviews with a person you know, it’s time to switch to someone you are less familiar with. If you’re a university student, your best bet is asking your student office for help. Most universities organise mock interviews for their students and even their alumni. This is a great way to get over your nerves as you’ll be in a neutral environment and you will be faced with someone you’re not acquainted with, perhaps even a complete stranger. This will help you to replicate actual interview conditions more closely.
Where should the mock interview take place?
Moving from a more comfortable to a less comfortable scenario is a good idea if you want to ease yourself into it. Start out practising at home with a friend or family member and then ask someone you don’t know as well for help and try to move to a more professional location which is more like the office environment you can expect to be interviewed in.
Mock your way to success
Use mock interviews to familiarise yourself with the formal interview format and with the potential questions you might be faced with given the nature of the jobs you’ll be applying to as well as your experience. Once you’ve gone through a few mocks in a neutral setting with a person you’re not closely acquainted to, you’ll be ready to nail your real job interviews and accept the offer you like the most.
For more tips on how to get ready for the big day, check out our job interview checklist in 4 steps. Furthermore, if you’re having trouble landing interviews in the first place, perhaps your CV or cover letter are causing problems. Taking a look at our guides on how to make your CV stand out and how to write the perfect cover letter will undoubtedly help.
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