Practice is a critical part of the interview preparation process. While practicing with an experienced hiring manager or an HR professional may be very useful, not all job seekers have access to this resource. Involving friends and family members in conducting mock interviews can be an excellent alternative.
If your friends or family don't have experience conducting mock interviews, it can be challenging for them to effectively help you to prepare for your interview. ZoomInterviews has put together this guide to help individuals who want to help you practice interviewing, yet are inexperienced in doing so, prepare to conduct effective mock interviews with you. Share this guide with your mock interviewer before starting to practice.
Practicing mock interviews allows a job seeker to become more accustomed to the interviewing environment, and can effectively reduce anxiety over the entire process. By preparing in advance of the interview, candidates can develop a stronger sense of self confidence. Mock interviews can additionally uncover problems, mistakes or mishaps for the job seeker long before the actual interview occurs. In this way, the candidate is able to work to correct these issues during the practice period, and therefore elevate his or her performance during the actual interview.
In preparing for your role as mock interviewer, you'll have a bit of homework to do. You'll want to do some of the same things that a hiring manager would in preparing to meet with a job seeker. You'll need to learn a little about the job for which the candidate is interviewing and the industry in which that job is found. This gives you a better idea of the types of interview questions to focus on and the responses a professional interviewer may be looking for in a qualified applicant.
Review the applicant's resume and prepare specific questions to ask. Here are a few categories to consider, as well as examples of some of the most common questions.
- Candidate's Background and Career History
Pose specific questions about the candidate's resume, including any education or employment highlights.
You also will need to identify the basic qualifications for a job in the industry in question and try to pinpoint those qualifications in your mock interview conversation. For example, if the candidate is interviewing for a position in engineering, here are a few sample questions about that target engineering qualifications.
- Walk me through your resume.
- Tell me a little about your job responsibilities when you worked for Company X.
- What made you choose to major in your Degree Program?
- What aspect of your job duties at Company X did you enjoy most? Which did you enjoy least?
- I see you attended X University. What was your most challenging engineering class while there?
- Your career focus appears to be in the aeronautics field. Tell me what it is about aeronautics that first drew you to the specialty.
- What is the most interesting engineering project you've worked on in your career?
- What was your role on the engineering team? What was the outcome of the project?
- Career Goals and Aspirations
An interviewer wants to know about a candidate's present job search and his or her future career goals. Touching on these topics, you may ask any of the following.
- What sort of position are you looking for?
- Where do you see yourself in two, five or ten years?
- What is the most important part of a job, in your opinion?
- Strengths and Weaknesses
Interviewers want to know where a candidate's strengths lie as well as those areas in which a candidate may be weak. They may flat out ask the candidate to state a strength or a weakness, or they may ask questions which are intended to speak to the concept of strengths or weaknesses.
- Describe a critical failure at work. What happened? What did you learn from the experience? And how might you handle a similar situation differently in the future?
- What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a job in finance? What was your most difficult class in college? Why was it so hard? What steps did you take to improve your performance in the class?
- Personality and Character Traits
One of the most important reasons that interviews generally take place face-to-face is that direct interaction with a candidate allows the interviewer to get a feel for his or her personality and character.
- How might your friends describe you?
- How do you believe your current boss (or past boss at Company X) might describe you?
- What about your co-workers? What would they have to say about you?
- How the Candidate will Contribute
Every employer wants to know what a job seeker will bring to the job and why they're the best candidate.
- Why should we hire you?
- What can you bring to the job that no one else can?
- Would Company X rehire you? In the same position you held previously? Or would they rehire you in another job?
- Leadership and Teamwork Skills
One of the biggest goals of an interview is to determine a job seeker's teamwork and leadership skills.
- Tell me a little about your leadership style.
- What does it mean to be a good team member?
- Describe a time when you worked as a member of a team.
- Describe a time when you were responsible for leading others.
To select additional questions for your mock interview see the questions listed in Interview Questions
To be an effective mock interviewer, you'll need to immerse yourself in the role. The interview should begin with a formal greeting and introduction. For example, "Hello Mr. Smith, I'm Ms. Erickson. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today to discuss the position of X." Conduct the interview for approximately 30 minutes, which is the same basic time-frame in which an actual interview will be held. Evaluate both the content and the delivery of answers, and be certain to ask follow up questions when the situation merits.
- The initial question: Describe a time when you worked as a member of a team.
Follow-up questions: Was the team successful in its task? What would you change about the experience if you could?
- The initial question: Describe a time when you were responsible for leading others.
Follow-up questions: What was the outcome? Where you successful? What might you have done differently?
You'll need to actively manage the interview as a conversation, rather than allowing the candidate to speak the majority of the time. Remember that you're there to mimic the activities, conversational tone, and character of the interviewer. Your goal is to challenge the job seeker and help them become more capable of acing the actual interview for which you're helping them prepare.
One important method of preparing a job seeker for an actual interview is to simulate a stress interview. Many actual interviews include a stress component. To practice, you will need to put the job seeker under stress for three to five minutes.
- Exhibit a more aggressive tone and body language.
- Constantly take notes without making eye contact.
- Look at your watch over and over again.
- Play with your cell phone.
For additional information on stress interviews, see ZoomInterviews Guide on How to Handle a Stress Interview
Allow the interviewee to ask questions at the end of the interview. Even if you don't know the answers to those questions, going through the motions lets the job seeker consider what to ask in the actual interview and to practice how he or she will pose the questions.
Ensure you take detailed notes on the interviewee's answers. This gives him the chance to review his methods and the opportunity to refine the information which he plans to share during the actual interview. If possible, you should even consider videotaping the interview. Reviewing the video is an excellent method of honing one's interview skills.
To evaluate answers you can also use this simple evaluation form
For more information on evaluating the interviewee's performance, use ZoomInterviews Guide to the Most Common Interviewing Mistakes
Giving feedback, especially negative feedback, can be challenging. Keep in mind that the feedback you give should be constructive, meaning it should help the interviewee improve his or her performance. Consider the following points when giving your feedback:
- Be specific with your comments.
- If you've videotaped the interview, provide your feedback after the candidate has watched the recording.
- Use the interview evaluation form above to provide more constructive and focused feedback.
- Start with positive feedback and work your way up to discussing areas in which improvement is needed, then finish with additional positive feedback.
- Explain in detail what the interviewee did wrong, including body language, speech patterns and content of the responses given.
- Avoid analyzing the "why" of any failures, and instead focus on how the interviewee can improve.
A mock interview is an indispensable tool in preparing for an actual interview, and, when done well, closely mirrors what you could expect during your actual interview. However, a mock interview will only be as good as the participants make it. Do your best to recreate actual interview conditions by being as formal and professional as possible. The mock interviewer should stay in character throughout the interview and the interviewee must act as though s/he is in an actual interview. By incorporating the steps in this guide, you can help that important someone in your life succeed at a moment that's so important in theirs - interviewing for their dream job.