Preparing for a Mock Interview (With Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 4, 2022

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Developing and perfecting your interviewing ability is an essential skill for any job seeker. A mock interview provides you with an opportunity to practice your responses and prepare for an actual meeting. In this article, we discuss what a mock interview is, the benefits of holding one, and the seven steps for a successful mock interview.

What is a mock interview?

Conducting a mock interview is a way to prepare for a job interview. A mock interview experience allows you to develop your nonverbal body language, craft responses to behavioural interview questions, and become comfortable in an interview environment. A mock interview can simulate any real-world interview experience, be it over the phone, in person, or online.

Related: What Is an Online Mock Interview? (And How to Conduct One)

Who can help you practice a mock interview?

There are several options for practicing with a mock interview. If you're a recent graduate, reach out to your local college or university's career service centre. It likely has the resources to support you and trained career counsellors who can do a mock interview with you.

If you've been in the workforce for some time, you can contact your provincial government employment services office for support. It typically has employment counsellors on staff to help you practise your interviewing skills. Alternatively, you can hire a career coach who specializes in helping individuals find and land their desired job.

Another option is to ask a family member, friend, or colleague for help. If you ask someone you know, be sure they can provide you with objective feedback. Sometimes close family members and friends know you too well to give constructive criticism, so be mindful of who you ask to make the most of the experience.

To prepare your interview partner for the mock interview, provide them with as much information as possible. For example, give them notes about the company, the position you are interviewing for, and the job description. This allows your mock interview partner to prepare appropriate questions and create a realistic interview environment.

What are the benefits of mock interviews?

Whether you are new to interviewing, are a seasoned professional, or want to improve your techniques, a mock interview can provide you with several benefits:

Receive feedback in a low-pressure situation

You're practising, so making a mistake in a mock interview is okay. You can try different answers to tough questions to get a sense of what feels best to you. There's no need to memorize answers.

A mock interview also provides the opportunity to receive feedback so you can make adjustments accordingly. Your mock interview partner is there to provide constructive feedback on your body language, tone of voice, responses, and communication skills. Look at a mock interview as a chance to improve your interview skills in a low-pressure environment.

Develop answers to difficult interview questions

Typically, there are several categories of questions the recruiter or hiring manager selects from during an interview. These include behaviour-based questions and questions about your experience, education, technical skills, and soft skills. Your mock interviewer can also pose typical interview questions to you so you can develop strong responses.

Practise your interview etiquette

A mock interview can allow you to perfect your interviewing etiquette. You can ask your mock interviewer to give you feedback on how you introduce yourself. Use it to improve handshakes and body language. Be sure to prepare as you usually would for an interview by dressing appropriately and bringing copies of your résumé or portfolio. Be sure to ask your interview partner to give you feedback on your interview protocol and any areas you can improve.

Develop your communication skills

Practising your communication skills is an essential part of becoming an exceptional communicator. A mock interview provides you with a safe space to develop your skills in answering questions effectively. It also helps you articulate thoughts on the spot and perfect nonverbal skills such as your posture and facial expression.

Reduce your anxiety and boost your confidence

By conducting a mock interview, you increase your confidence for the big day. You'll go through the entire interview process, receive feedback, and adjust your responses to perform at your highest level during the actual meeting. By preparing for tough questions in advance, you automatically reduce the stress and anxiety of interviewing for a job.

Related:

  • HR Interview Questions: Preparing for Your Interview

  • How to Manage Nervousness in an Interview

  • Digital Interviews: Questions, Answers, and Tips to Prepare

How to prepare for a mock interview

Because a mock interview simulates the actual event, you must prepare and act as if it's the actual interview. Follow these seven steps to prepare:

1. Dress appropriately

Consider the mock interview as a dress rehearsal. It's advisable to select the same or similar attire that you'll wear to the actual interview. This helps you make sure there are no repairs that need to be made—no missing buttons or stains—on the real interview day.

Remember that your attire can influence the recruiter or hiring manager's impression of you, so select professional clothing appropriate for the job type and company culture. If in doubt, it's better to dress too formally rather than too casually. Your mock interviewer should provide feedback on your physical presentation so you can make adjustments as needed.

2. Create the interview setting

Creating the interview setting allows you to become comfortable in the environment. When you're familiar with the location, you can think more clearly and be more confident.

If you're practicing a virtual interview, prepare your area as you would on the actual interview day. Ensure that the space you choose is quiet, tidy, and well lit and offers privacy. Check your internet connection, video camera, and speakers before starting the call.

If you're practicing for an in-person interview, have your mock interviewer set up the physical space to represent the environment you'll likely be in. Typically, recruiters hold interviews in private offices or boardrooms. Have the mock interviewer sit behind a desk or table, if possible. Place your résumé and notebook on the desk or table between you during the interview.

If you're practicing for a phone interview, be sure to charge your phone battery fully and ensure your location has good reception.

Related: 18 Common Interview Types and How to Ace Each One

3. Bring your résumé and other materials

Just as you would for an actual interview, bring several copies of your résumé to your mock interview. It's considered good etiquette to offer a copy to the interviewer at the start of the meeting. Also, bring any documentation your interviewer may request, such as certificates or records. If you're interviewing for a position in a creative field, such as graphic design, bring your portfolio. Lastly, always bring a notepad or book to write important notes in. A list of prepared questions to ask the interviewer is also a good idea. Your mock interviewer can provide you with feedback about any missing information or questions to ask.

4. Take your time answering questions

A mock interview gives you the chance to reflect and develop a thoughtful response to questions. Take the opportunity to solidify well-thought-out answers.

When asked interview questions, try to provide answers that highlight your experience and expertise. You can use the STAR method as a framework for responses. When using the STAR method, provide an answer that includes these elements:

  • Situation: Explain the context of the situation as it relates to the question. Spend the least amount of time on this step.

  • Task: Explain your role and responsibility in the situation. Focus on the task or goal given to you.

  • Action: Explain your actions in detail to resolve or improve the situation. Spend the most time on this step.

  • Result: Explain the results achieved by your actions. Focus on providing quantifiable results when possible.

Take your time to answer the interview questions fully with authentic examples and statistics. Your mock interviewer can provide constructive feedback on the clarity of your responses.

5. Research the company

When preparing for your mock and real interview, do research on the company. Review their presence on social media and business networking sites and in news articles. Read over their website to understand their mission statement, core values, and other crucial information about their organization. Show the hiring manager your interest in the company and practice working your research into your mock interview responses.

6. Review the interview feedback

You can provide your mock interviewer with criteria on the areas you'd like the most feedback on. Include your interview attire, greeting and introduction, résumé and documents, interview responses, and other constructive criticism. If you're practising with a career coach or employment counsellor, they may have a list of criteria for evaluation, so ask for a copy for your records. You may also want to practice with several people to get a broader range of feedback. Once you've reviewed the feedback, make any necessary adjustments before your actual interview.

7. Record your mock interview

An effective strategy for self-evaluation is to record the mock interview. You don't need professional equipment; the video function on your cellphone will do. You can use the recording to assess your responses, tone of voice, and body language. If videoing your mock interview isn't possible, even an audio recording can provide helpful insight into how you present yourself.

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