Mock interviews are a vital part of the interview preparation process. As an interview coach, it is something that allows me to gain a good insight in to the strengths and weaknesses of a clients interview performance levels and identify areas of improvement to help them preform at their best for their upcoming job interview.
However in saying that, too many mock interviews can have the opposite effect, reducing performance levels, doubling down on bad habits and in some cases increasing levels of anxiety pre-interview.
So I’ve put together some important pieces of advice regarding mock interviews that will ensure that you maximise the benefits of mock interviews, helping to take your interview performance to the next level.
What is the purpose of a Mock Interview?
A mock interview is a simple and effective way to re-create a real life job interview. Since an interview scenario is rarely duplicated in real life (whether work or personal) mock interviews play key a role in the body and minds’ acclimatisation to the process. This can range from the initial greeting and small talk to the formal manner in which interview questions are asked and interviewees are required to respond.
Additionally mock interviews are fantastic way to quickly identify your interview strengths and areas that require improvement. Therefore can act as an excellent barometer to measure what your current performance levels are and how much improvement is required.
How long do Mock Interviews last?
Typically a mock interview can last anywhere from between 30 minutes to an hour. If you’re doing longer mock interviews, it’s important to take a longer break before you do another one (at least 2 days) because it can become mentally exhausting and you don’t want to have interview fatigue.
However since it’s not the real thing, ultimately it’s up to you to decide how long you want the mock interview to be. I’m a big advocate of doing mini mock interviews, as you’re able to do this by yourself if need be, and because they’re short you can increase the frequency and do them more regularly compared to longer mock interviews. This way you’ll also be able to easily plot how your performance levels are improving and which stubborn areas require more work.
How Do I prepare for a Mock Interview?
Easy! Prepare for a mock interview like you’re preparing for an actual interview. Dress smart, where a suit or your most professional outfit. Go through the same ritual as if you’re going to an actual interview. This might seem a little over the top, however this will normalise the interview process in to your psyche. So when it comes to the actual day of the interview the preparation ritual feels familiar, meaning that you’re more relaxed as you know what to expect as you’ve gone through the process many times in your mock interviews.
Before doing the mock make sure that you practise your answers and simplify your notes. Remember in the interview you won’t be able to take all your notes with you so the same precedence must also apply in a mock interview. This can be quite daunting for some people, however it’s important to remember your focus is on improving and sometimes having to do that requires getting out of your comfort zone and doing activity that you don’t particularly enjoy (on another note, as you improve in your interviewing skills you will find yourself enjoying the preparation process as a whole). Improvement builds confidence and confidence helps deliver success.
It’s also important to remember that a mock interview, is just that – a mock! Therefore it’s important understand that you’re not aiming for perfection in your performance, rather simply trying to do your best. So if the mock interview doesn’t go so well, don’t worry, it wasn’t the real thing, you’ve got time to go back to the drawing board and improve. If you have this mindset, I have no doubt that you will improve.
1) Don’t be too critical, Focus on a few areas per mock interview.
Sometimes when you’re conducting a mock interview with a friend, or even doing one yourself by recording it on video. There is a tendency of being overly critical of the performance. This can lead to being overwhelmed by the volume of areas that have been identified that require improvement and this can lead to a loss in confidence and motivation. Therefore it’s important to identify one or two specific things that you believe require improving in your interview performance i.e. sitting up straight or pausing more before answering, and you will find that in your next mock interview practice or interview your performance in these specific areas have improved. Remember Rome wasn’t built overnight and each step in the right direction, no matter how small it may feel is all being funnelled to help take your performance to the next level.
2) Do regular mini mock interviews rather than irregular full length mock interviews.
Usually if there are any significant issues that are being flagged in your mock interview performance, it’s very likely that it will show up in the performance early. Full length mock interview can be exhausting mentally and doing too many can be draining, therefore by doing mini mock interviews you’ll actually be able to identify issues without the mental exhaustion and as a result be able to do more of them which will all help towards levelling up your job interview performance.
3) Don’t aim for perfection.
There is no such thing as a perfect interview, because it’s a subjective process, one persons great might only be another persons good. Therefore In the same way have a pragmatic mindset when it comes to mock interviews, your goal is simply to do the best you can and not aim to be perfect, because by trying to be perfect, firstly you’re putting added pressure on yourself which will be counterproductive. This will result in a major blow to your own self esteem, confidence and self belief. Therefore being a pragmatist will result in you being more relaxed, reduce pressure which are both conducive to a good interview performance.
4) Make sure you learn and do the prep.
It’s important to make sure that after any mock interview that you go back to your prep, whether it’s working on your polishing the content of your answers, to your body language or delivery; because it’s the effort that you put in here that will really help push your performance up to the next level. Whether it be the real thing (an interview) or another mock. Mock interviews for the sake of it might lead to some improvements, however from my experience when you don’t put in the prep work in between, it can actually result in bad habits being solidified. These can then become more difficult to rectify and make your mock interviews a hindrance to raising your performance levels rather than improving them.
So next time you’re planning prep for your interview, why not try some for of the techniques above and see how you get on. Alternatively if you want some professional support and insight, why not sign up for one of our free job interview coaching consultations with one of our trainers.