Job interviews are intimidating by nature. You sit down in a room with a person you’ve (probably) never met before, answer a bunch of hard-hitting questions about your hypothetical performance for a job you don’t do yet, and leave hoping that they liked you enough to consider hiring you.
It seems like an impossible gauntlet to prep for, especially if you’ve never really interviewed for a job before. Sure, maybe you met with a shift manager at the local diner or had coffee with the parents of kids you could potentially babysit. But an interview for your first adult job out of college is way more formal and has a lot more pitfalls you need to watch out for.
So what can you do to help get your bearings in this brave new world?
A mock interview!
Mock interviews practice interviews to familiarize yourself with the interview process. They allow you to perform confidently during your real interview by giving specific feedback that can improve your communication skills and teach you how to answer difficult questions. On top of that, you’ll feel less stressed about your actual job interview since you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.
Step 1: Find someone who’s gone through it before and ask for their help.
You can use just about anyone: your parents, older siblings, family friends, or neighbors. While a lot about the hiring process has changed in the last 30 years, the interview process has stayed pretty much the same. This means that a lot of the tips and tricks that helped them land their job could still work for you!
Bonus Tip: Find someone who works in the same industry you’re looking at. They’ll be able to ask you trade-specific questions and industry trends that only an insider could help you prepare for.
Step 2: Schedule your mock interview.
Once you’ve found a willing mock interview buddy, set up a time for your interview. It’ll give you time to prepare yourself to meet with your partner, just like you should before your real interview. Mark your calendar for a time about a week in advance of your actual interview. This way, your practice experience will be fresh in your mind for the real deal.
Step 3: Prepare! Both yourself and for your interviewer.
Prep for your mock interview the same way you would for the actual interview. Practice your answers to common interview questions. Review your elevator pitch. Research the company’s mission statement. Go over all the important talking points before you get together for your practice interview.
Since your friend is doing you a favor by helping you prep for your real interview, the least you can do is make their role as easy as possible! Email them some sample questions, details about the company you’re interviewing with, your resume, and anything else that could help them. Work around their schedule and make the practice interview convenient for them.
Step 4: Conduct the mock interview.
You can meet up anywhere that’s convenient for you both. Ideally, it should be a quieter environment so that you don’t get distracted. Forgo the bustling coffee shop in exchange for a private room in the public library, or your kitchen table. Bring everything with you that you’ll be taking to your actual interview: copies of your presume, and notebook and pen, perhaps a portfolio or bag.
Then get the conversation started. Introduce yourself to them as if they’re a stranger and let the mock interview begin! Rehearse your practiced answers, and be mindful of your
Bonus Tip: While you don’t have to dress the part for your mock interview, consider running your interview outfit by your friend. They could give provide helpful fashion advice so you don’t have to worry about it on your big day!
Step 5: Ask for feedback.
This is the most critical step! After you wrap up the mock interview, be sure to ask for feedback on everything. What did you do best? Where could you use improvement? This will help you figure out what you need to improve before the real interview.