Tell me if this sounds familiar… you are landing lots of phone screenings and face-to-face interviews but, unfortunately, you aren’t getting any second round interviews or job offers. You feel you are qualified for these jobs and your salary demands are inline. Is this your situation?
This typically indicates that your resume is strong but your interviewing skills are not. If this is the case, then I’d like to introduce you to my good friend: the mock interview. Mock interviews are practice interviews that simulate the conditions, format, questions, and environment of the real interview you will soon have.
A mock interview delivers a significant advantage to candidates over ones who do not practice with mock interviews. Surprisingly, a small percentage of people prepare for an interview with a mock interview. So use mock interviews to give yourself an advantage. Here are a few ways to get the maximum benefit from mock interviews!
Simulate the actual interviewing environment
It is easy to respond to questions when you are in the comfort of your home or school or coffee shop because you are in a comfortable surrounding. Mock interviews are the time to remove that comfort and simulate a potentially challenging environment or stressful conditions. If you can, try to find a business setting you’ve never visited to conduct the mock interview. You get the feel for having to find a new location on time – that alone can throw you off in an interview so practice handling it.
Dress the part
Practicing interview questions is a good idea but why not take a few extra minutes and get in your suit, print your resumes, and brush your teeth just as you would do for a real interview. Casually practicing answers to questions is NOT the same as answering questions in the interview you’ll have. Remember, every extra effort you put into a mock interview creates an advantage over other candidates.
Practice easy and tough questions
“Tell me about yourself” is the most common interview ice breaker question in an interview and also the one that people trip up on regularly. Our coaches advise a very specific structure to this answer – certain information in a specific sequence that takes an appropriate amount of time. This is how we approach each interview question with our clients – we develop what you should say FIRST and then we practice. We also review the strategy you need to take with each type of question and tips for making sure you have a plan before you start talking.
Do you need a career coach to conduct the interview
A career coach isn’t necessary for mock interviews but find someone capable of simulating a hiring manager for your potential position, particularly with case interviews. Make sure the person is competent and will take his/her role in helping you seriously. While career coaches are expensive, that cost should be weighed against the price of losing the job to another candidate who interviewed better. You may be a good candidate, even quite good. However, what if there are certain questions you didn’t prepare for or what if there is something else unbeknownst to you that is costing you job offers? A professional career coach can help eradicate these possibilities.
Either way, prepare with mock interviews. One executive career coaching client of ours conducted 17 mock interviews. The job she was looking for was rare and the competition fierce. Her resume was quite strong but felt the long and numerous interviews would be her stumbling block. We’re proud to say she landed her dream job! You can too with a little practice.
If you consider what is at stake, your interview preparation should be at least equal to your networking effort. After all, what good is your network, your resume and that awesome suit if you can’t interview well? Remember, getting a job offer is your measure of success. Landing the interview is NOT the finish line! Run through multiple mock interviews for each interview you have. Make them as realistic as possible and you will soon have the problem of choosing which job offer you’re going to accept!
If your first interview is over the phone, check out our 4 powerful phone interview tips. Just ahead of your interview, read our blog to boost your confidence and ace that interview!