Preparing to move on to a career after completing a degree program is an important step to success. A part of the preparation one will want to take on is to complete a mock interview, also known as practice interviewing. College career centers along with career counselors offer an in-person mock interview for one to practice and receive feedback prior to the real thing.
The benefits of a practice interview are many, including learning how to answer difficult questions, interview strategies, improving communications skills, and lowering the amount of stress that can build up before it. For example, if one wanted to know how to become a stockbroker, the candidate would want to make their interviewer aware if an internship was completed, a sponsor has been obtained to complete the necessary licensing exams, and the exams been taken and passed in order to begin employment right away.
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Proper preparation will prevent a poor interview performance as long as the mock interview is taken seriously. Prepare for the practice interview in the same manner as one would for the actual meeting, including arriving 15 minutes in advance, using a notebook to take down notes on what the interviewer recommends, and dress as you would for a real-life situation. Even though it is a practice interview and you may feel as though it’s weird getting dressed up, you will be glad you to ensure your clothing fits right and looks good prior to the actual interview. No one is perfect, so by practicing your interview in advance, you can obtain feedback on deficiencies that the mock interviewer notices. The way one presents themselves can affect how well the interview is carried out.
Conducting a mock interview can be done in a multitude of ways, including videotaping. By watching the tape on the interview, you can observe not only how you answered the questions, but also how your body language came across as well as eye contact made. By simply listening to the tape, you can decipher if the responses to the questions were on point. Suggest using a time limit per question when practice interviewing to avoid running on too long for one single question. Listening to the tape can help determine how confident or nervous you came across.
Prior to commencing with the mock interview, the interviewee and interviewer ought to research each of the following:
- A job description of the position you are seeking to attain.
- The name of the company you are interviewing for.
- A copy of the resume and cover letter. Avoid the common mistakes and make sure it’s well polished before you begin.
- Common questions you can expect in a first interview.
During the mock interview, be certain to jot down in your notebook the questions that are difficult to answer, achievements that you may have forgotten to promote, and any difficulties that came about during the interview process. It is important to note not to get overly upset if you make a mistake. Start the practice interview over if you initially stumble through a question. Learning from the feedback will make you more prepared for the real thing so take the constructive criticism as advice, instead of taking it personally.
The interviewer plays a big role in preparing one for the actual interview, namely providing an honest account of how it was carried out.
Some items that the interviewer can provide feedback on include:
- Did the candidate answer the questions posed or ramble on without a point?
- Did they speak negatively about a prior employer?
- Was the candidate nervous or engaged in odd mannerisms that could distract the potential employer?
The bottom line is to gather a clear understanding of what needs improving so you can put your best foot forward for the actual interview. Stay away from asking family members, friends or significant others to assess you, as they may be hesitant in outlining things that need to be improved upon. Instead, lean on those who make it a practice to assist students in finding the right career.
Once the mock interview is completed multiple times and the actual interview is next, make certain to come prepared with questions. You will want to be comfortable with the company culture, job, and whether you perceive yourself self as a good fit. The company will want to meet you, so be yourself instead of what you think the company is looking for in a candidate. Promote your prior experience and skill to stand out versus other candidates, and follow up with a thank you letter for taking the time to meet. By doing so, you will promote your commitment to the job.
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