Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a first-time job seeker, interviewing can be stressful. Over time, your skills at interviewing will improve and you’ll get more comfortable talking about yourself and your experience; however, a little practice can also go a long way. Here are some great methods to help you practice before your next big interview.
Find a Practice Partner
This is something we emphasize quite a bit, and it’s for good reason. A great way to prepare for an upcoming interview is to find a willing practice partner. If you’ve got a friend or a family member who is a human resources representative or a hiring manager, that would be a bonus as they have inside knowledge of how interviews work. Nevertheless, your practice partner could be anyone—just make sure they have the time to devote to your cause.
Unless your practice partner is someone who is also preparing for an interview, you should take the time to prepare any necessary materials and secure a nice practice space. Your practice partner is doing you a huge favor, so make sure everything is all set up for them by the time you meet. If your practice partner is also rehearsing for an interview, you can help each other prepare questions and set up a space. Either way, always make sure you say thank you to your practice partner.
Perhaps the most important part of your mock interview is a good set of questions. In a real interview there is typically a short introductory period, after which the interviewer will go into a series of questions about your resume, your goals, and other aspects of your experience. Here are some common interview questions to help get your started:
- Tell me a bit about yourself and your work experience.
- Why do you think you’d be a good fit for this role?
- What about [company name] interests you the most?
- Tell me about [specific section on your resume].
- What is your greatest achievement?
- Why do you want to leave your current job?
- Tell me about your previous/current boss.
- Why is there a gap on your resume?
Once you’ve got your questions all set up, take the time to review your resume and get comfortable talking about it. Have your practice partner ask you the questions from your list, and allow them to critique your answers. This will help you to refine your answers and get them sounding as informative and concise as possible. If you’d like to raise the difficulty, check out our two-part blog on tricky interview questions.
Create the Scenario
If you want to get really creative with your mock interview, set up a practice space that simulates the environment of a real interview. First, find a nice quiet area that is free from outside distraction. Make sure the area is clean and organized, as clutter can be distracting and can also lead to unorganized thought. Next, set up a table and chairs so that you and your practice partner can take on the role of the candidate and the interviewer.
You could also decide on what you’re going to wear to your upcoming interview, and dress accordingly for your mock interview. A good rule of thumb is to dress for the job you want, so do some research into how the people in your industry typically dress. Dress clothes are often less comfortable than whatever you normally wear at home, so it’s worth getting used to how they feel before going on your real interview.
Practicing Without a Partner
If you are unable to find a practice partner or prefer practicing alone, there are some effective methods you should consider. Once you’ve come up with your interview questions, write them on flash cards and shuffle the deck so you can’t anticipate which question is next. This will help you get used to answering the questions themselves, rather than simply memorizing what answer comes next.
Next, try recording yourself as you answer the practice questions. We all pretty much feel the same way about hearing ourselves on a recording, but this is particularly helpful because you’ll be able to not only refine your answers, but your tone and your speech patterns. You don’t want to sound wooden or rehearsed on your interview, so get used to speaking casually about your resume and your experience. Review your recordings carefully and make any necessary adjustments.
As the date of your interview approaches, try to get a few solid practice sessions in. This will help to alleviate any feelings of stress or anxiety, while also building confidence. If you still feel like you’re having trouble, check out our previous blog on how to deal with interview anxiety. Practice interviews are great for anyone, regardless of their age or level of experience, and if someone asks you to be their practice partner, lend them a hand if you’ve got the time.