A Guide on Properly Conducting 'Mock Interviews'
Practice makes perfect.
Perfect practice makes perfect.
If you're practicing and conducting mock interviews, but you and your partner aren't holding each other accountable, then the only thing you'll be doing is practicing bad habits and putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes time for the real deal.
So, how do you know you're forming bad habits? And how can you and your peers hold each other accountable while mock interviewing one another?
Look no further, because today's post has your back.
First, I’d suggest forming your elevator pitch, 3-5 core stories, and responses to common cultural-fit questions (re: why you, why us, etc.) and practicing them by yourself until you can consistently + articulately present yourself. You can present in front of the mirror or record yourself so you can evaluate your own performance. I know there is no greater agony in this world than hearing your own voice, but trust me: by doing this, you will be able to notice small, subtle cues - lack of eye contact, random voice intonations, etc. - that will help you properly adjust your delivery and approach.
Second, once you're comfortable begin practicing with friends and mentors. Have them interview you, and then flip the script by interviewing them. On top of helping them out with their interviews, there is another critical reason for doing so; by taking on the side of the interviewer, you will begin to pick up subtle cues you’d miss in the heat of the moment as an interviewee. Moreover, by putting yourself in the interviewers’ shoes, you will have a much better and richer understanding of what interviewers are looking for. You may notice that your friend is more rambling than they should be, and they're not quickly getting to the point. Or you may notice their lack of story and structure in their responses. Either way, you begin picking up things only interviewers pick up, and this will help you become a more conscientious and empathetic interviewee yourself.
Third, after your mock interview sessions, you and your partner must be able to provide each other meaningful, actionable feedback.
Good feedback accomplishes the following:
Identify strengths: give specific examples, and highlight where particular answers were really strong and stood out.
Identify weaknesses: again, provide specific, identifiable examples for areas for improvement. Highlight particular responses that negatively stood out.
Provide next steps for improvement: after pinpointing specific areas for improvement, offer suggestions and recommendations that will help the interviewee see what they’re doing wrong and how they can fix it.
If you’re curious about learning what separates good feedback from the bad, you can see some examples below that may be helpful.
And of course, don’t take feedback too personally. This especially applies if someone more random - like a career counselor or a person you just coffee chatted - critiques you. They’re doing it because they want you to succeed - they took the time to help you out, and they don’t want you to fail. And if a friend or mentor point something out that upsets you, understand that it wasn’t remotely close to their intention of doing so. They all want you to succeed, and trust me: you’re going to get knocked down A LOT by others in the workplace.
Not everybody will be as supportive and helpful as your friends and family. Cherish them.
Interviews are the most nerve-wracking part of the recruiting process.
This is it. This is your make-it-or-break-it moment.
Except it really isn’t. Whether it’s your first interviewing or your 1000th, one thing is for certain; through practice and time, you will get better.
I have objectively bombed interviews yet still landed the offer, and have objectively crushed my super-days only to be ghosted for the next couple of (agonizing) weeks, even months.
There are so many reasons you could have been rejected. More often than not, it’s not because you suck. Okay, maybe you did suck in that one interview. But chances are, you really did give it all. And all that blood, sweat, and tears didn’t pay off.
I personally know what that feels like. I’ve been rejected by way more firms than by those that extended me an offer and gave me a chance to prove myself. I’ve lost track how many times I’ve emptily stared at my laptop and phone screens, waiting for an email or a call, knowing all the same I wasn’t getting good news anytime soon.
Those times will come to an end. Keep pushing yourself. Keep practicing. Keep putting yourself out there. Network and coffee chat. Ask your friends and mentors to conduct mock interviews with you. When you need to, take a break and recharge from recruiting.
I’m not going to tell you things are going to get better. Only you can tell yourself that.
But along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help + support.
You’re not alone. And if you are, you shouldn’t be. Reach out: I’d love to help :)