You just got the call. They want to interview you for your dream job!
But wait, instead of feeling happy and excited, a sense of dread washes over you.
Some advice to get yourself back to feeling excited and confident? Take a deep breath and set up a mock interview.
What’s a mock interview? If you haven’t heard of mock interviews, or aren’t utilizing them, you need to add them to your job search toolbox immediately. Mock interviews are simply practice interviews that help you prepare for the real thing. They’re kind of like a mock cocktail, serving a lot of the same purposes just not as potent.
Mock interviews are a great way to get started because of their low stakes nature. They provide you opportunities to get some valuable feedback on your interview responses. Whether you are doing mock interviews with a friend, volunteer, or fellow job seeker, you can ask for advice and suggestions from the person “interviewing” you.
In addition to helping you better articulate your stories and experiences, a good mock interview session will strengthen your non-verbal communication skills. After a recent Path Forward mock interview workshop, a participant shared, “The feedback I got from my partner opened my eyes to how I might be unintentionally coming off as unprofessional during virtual interviews.” Without the mock interview, she would have never known she was sending negative signals with her non-verbal communication. In short, preparing your interview responses is not enough.
Since many mock interviews are set up in a give-and-take format, they provide even more opportunity to learn. When you take your turn as the “interviewer,” you put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be interviewing you for that dream job. This unique perspective helps you better understand what interviewers need during the job interview process to make the best hiring decisions. As another participant in a recent Path Forward mock interview workshop stated, “All I can say was the mock interviews were an amazing experience. I learned just as much as an interviewer as I did responding to interview questions myself!”
So now you see the benefits of mock interviewers, but how do you go about setting one up?
One of the fastest ways to set up a mock interview is to ask family or friends to interview you. This might be a good way to ease into your interview practice, and Google can provide you with a list of the most common interview questions. But don’t stop there. I strongly encourage you to find some mock interview events, like the ones Path Forward offers in our free online community.
There are two big benefits to pushing yourself to do mock interviews outside your current circle. First, it is going to get you talking to strangers, which is something you’ll have to do in a real interview. Second, unless you know that the friend or family member you asked to do mock interviews with is also on the job hunt, there is a real chance that they aren’t up to date on current interview trends. In contrast, when you attend a mock interview event, you’ll likely find yourself in a room full of motivated job seekers. Knowing you are getting advice from others who have also been trying to perfect their interview skills makes the feedback all the more meaningful.
Bottom line – It is never too early to start preparing for interviews. And you can never be too prepared for an interview. So get to it! You never know, you might even make a friend or two in the process.
Emily Askri is a program manager at Path Forward.