Practice makes perfect. An impending job interview can be daunting for many prospective hires, and bad interviews do happen. However, like any other skill, responding to assessment questions articulately and with poise and professionalism can be learned by anyone.
A mock interview can serve as an excellent training strategy for active job seekers who want to put their best self forward and ace their next interview. Here’s how to conduct one with your team, including tips for making it a useful exercise for all involved.
What is a Mock Interview?
A mock interview is a dress rehearsal to help job seekers prepare for a real job interview. It is a conversational exercise which is designed to be as realistic as possible, to help potentials perfect their answers to common interview questions. While the candidate has no way of knowing which questions an interviewer will ask, practicing ahead of time will strengthen the responses which they are able to give.
Fun fact: mock interviews are often used to train politicians and celebrities before they address the press.
Who Administers a Mock Interview?
Mock interview questions should be asked by a trusted friend or colleague of the candidate. Usually, the mock interviewer will be someone who has experience related to the position the potential is seeking.
Businesses may also hold mock interview seminars as part of employee advancement initiatives which help personnel move into new positions within the company.
How is a Mock Interview Different?
A mock interview may be recorded by the interviewee for later study and analysis. Coaches and colleagues might have access to the footage and can provide advice and critique for the candidate to help them nail down their technique.
Additionally, questions asked in a mock interview may vary slightly from those in a real interview. As the purpose of a mock interview is practice, the interviewer may ask questions about the candidate’s strategy, or give advice regarding their personal presentation and tone during the conversation.
Mock interviews should be treated as though they were the real thing. Candidates should take all the same steps before arriving that they would on their way to an actual job interview. They must:
- Dress the part. Clothing should demonstrate professionalism and self-awareness.
- Arrive early. Candidates should arrive at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled interview
- Bring all the required documents. This includes a resume, a CV (if they have one), and a print out of availability for bonus points.
- Make a good first impression. A candidate’s introduction should display confidence, as well as politeness. “Hello, my name is Joan Brown. Very pleased to meet you. How are you today?” It is a small detail, but it is vital to start off the interview on the right foot for a smooth finish.
- Practice, practice, practice. However, the candidate shouldn’t memorize their answers. An interviewee should avoid sounding too canned or robotic when responding to questions.
Below is a sample mock interview which incorporates a range of standard questions most often employed by recruiters and hiring managers.
Mock Interview Questions
Tell me about yourself.
The answer to this question should reflect the candidate’s educational and professional background, rather than a personal anecdote.
Why do you want to work for this company?
The candidate should gain some understanding of the history, philosophy and culture of the company prior to the interview. Their answer should reflect this research and identify how they will fit in.
What motivates you to come to work in the morning?
Interviewers asking this question are looking for greater insight into a candidate’s personal ethics and workstyle. For this question, a candidate should talk about why they love their job.
What is your greatest professional weakness?
Do not quote “perfectionism” or “faultlessness” as your answer to this question— interviewers have heard it all before. A candidate should be honest in their response, and express a self-awareness and a desire to improve.
What is your greatest professional strength?
An excellent employee knows what they’re good at. This is a candidate’s opportunity to show off a little bit of what they can bring to the table.
What are your career goals, and how will working in this position help to further them?
Rather than naming a senior managerial position as a response to this question, candidates should speak to the skills and experience they hope to gain from working at this company.
How has your prior experience prepared you for the duties of this position?
The candidate must understand the tasks required by the position for which they are interviewing, and speak to their own ability to perform them.
Please describe a time at your previous position wherein you had conflict with a colleague.
Workplace disputes are an unfortunate fact of any professional environment, and an employer will want to know that the candidate is able to resolve interpersonal disagreements with decorum.
Please describe a time at your previous position wherein you received critique of your work.
The interviewer wants to know that the candidate can listen to and implement feedback in order to improve their performance.
Do you have any questions for me?
The candidate should prepare well-researched questions ahead of the interview which display curiosity, and a genuine interest in working for the company.
Final Thoughts: Mock Interview Questions
Using mock interviews to practice can be a great way for candidates to improve their answers and master the art of the interview. To learn more about how to best prepare for interviews as a team, download our The Hiring Manager Collaboration Playbook.