How to Prepare for a Mock Interview (With Tips and Examples)
Updated 14 February 2023
It's a good idea to know how to prepare for a mock interview, which mimics the settings and questions of an actual job interview. This process allows you to refine your communication skills, prepare what to do and get instant feedback. After this process, you may feel comfortable with the formal interviewing environment and be more mindful about your answers. In this article, we explain what a mock interview is, how to prepare for one and provide sample interview questions and answers you can use to prepare.
What is a mock interview?
A mock interview recreates the work environment using phone, group or in-person interview settings. You may then use it to practise effective answers, use non-verbal communication skills and learn from helpful feedback. It helps to:
Research the company properly
Improve self-presentation and communication skills
Gain confidence to do better in the actual interview
Handle the pressure of talking to a group or a stranger
Become more experienced in answering unexpected questions
How to prepare for a mock job interview
Keep the following things in mind before you begin your mock interview:
1. Choose an interviewer
Anyone can be your practice interviewer, including a colleague or a friend. It's necessary for them to have a list of questions and provide honest advice. Although it may be best to ask a professional career counsellor to conduct a practice interview and help you improve, a family member or friend can also be a good option if they're knowledgeable about interviewing and can offer constructive criticism.
2. Choose a professional setting
Creating a similar professional environment can help you simulate the feeling and become more confident during the actual interview. There are many ways to create a professional setting. Here are three of them:
In-person interview: In this situation, you may copy a formal space with a desk and two chairs, and you can place your portfolio and resume on the table in front of you as you would in an actual interview. This helps to familiarise you with the foreignness of a new office and people.
Phone interview: Choose a quiet place with good signals so you can talk with the recruiter in peace. Also, you may want to make sure that your battery is full to prevent any disruptions during the interview call.
Virtual video-call interview: During a video call, you may want to ensure there is excellent lighting, a good quality webcam, mic, and have basic knowledge of the video teleconferencing software to help you use it effectively during the interview. If possible, test the software before the practice interview, so you know how to access the chat section, pause, mute and answer video calls.
3. Arrive early
Similar to a real interview, it's helpful to arrive five to 15 minutes early to be confident with the software, have the right phone signals and mentally prepare yourself to answer questions. For an in-person interview, it's a good idea to arrive 30 minutes early to become comfortable with the new people and place. This helps you calm down and focus on the interview.
4. Dress smartly
During the practice interview, wear the same outfit you may want to wear to the actual job interview. Remember, most recruiters evaluate your way of dressing to assess your level of professionalism. Once the interview is over, you may ask your practice interviewer to provide feedback on your outfit and suggest any improvement. You can make a checklist to help you in the final interview.
5. Research and prepare your interview answers
Preparing your interview responses is undoubtedly the most important part of the entire practice interview. The goal is to be prepared just enough to convey crucial information in a short amount of time. During the interview, you may want to carefully listen to the question, then pause and form a thoughtful response.
Consider using the STAR method to back up your responses with examples and effectively show your qualification and skills. When you use the STAR method, include the following elements in your answer:
Situation: Explain the situation and the context to get a better idea of the problem.
Task: Explain in detail your responsibilities in the role.
Action: Describe your actions and the key changes.
Result: Talk about the results of your actions and use examples, concrete numbers and evidence when possible to validate your responses.
Common interview questions
Preparing answers to commonly asked interview questions can help you effectively talk about yourself without missing out on important information. You may use these questions during a mock or practise interview to help you prepare.
Here are some common questions with sample responses to help you:
1. Tell me something about yourself
Employers may ask this to find out more about you. You may expand on your resume and add what your recruiters don't already know. For your response to be clear and powerful, it's important to include specific details about your past, present and future.
Example: ‘I began my career in graphic designing eight years ago, but for the last five years, I've created brand strategies and used my graphic designing skills to put it into action. Currently, I hold three certifications in building brands. I have managed teams with over twenty-five people and increased customer satisfaction by 16% since last year.’
2. Why do you want to be part of our company?
Employers ask this question to find out how interested you're in the company. Before the interview, make sure you know the history and culture of the company. Then explain how your skills, experience and aspirations align with the brand's goals. This helps you stand out from other candidates.
Example: ‘Top Tech Company is known for creating innovative tech equipment that solves our day-to-day struggles. I've been using your blenders for over five years now, and the quality is excellent. I saw that last year you won multiple awards on the latest upgrade you made to your blenders, and I would love to be a part of a team that is unique, hardworking and innovative.’
3. Why should we hire you?
Employers ask you this question to differentiate you from other candidates they might be interviewing. State what is not on your resume and be flexible with your answers. Aim to talk about examples of how you handle challenges and pressure. To impress your recruiters, you may try to explain in a thoughtful, humble way why you're better than other applicants.
Example: ‘You should hire me for my problem-solving and leadership skills. I am flexible with my working hours and have excellent time-management skills to help create and execute strategies under tight deadlines. As a marketing director in my previous job, I was able to secure a client who was about to leave our company. Now, 28% of our revenue comes from that client. I am excited to utilise my skills and experience to help grow the company.’
4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This may be the best way for recruiters to understand you in a short 15-minute interview. The formula for your answer is simple: First, you may talk about your weakness. Second, you can give an example of how it affects your professional life and what you're doing to improve it. This provides insight into your level of self-awareness and shows your flexibility. Third, you may state your strengths to leave a lasting impression on your clients. A good example of this strategy would be:
Examples: ‘I can be too critical of myself and take too long to perfect my writing piece, but since I started keeping track of my days and celebrating minor achievements, I now produce more quality content in less time. In terms of strengths, I have very persuasive writing skills, made possible by using my Bachelor's degree in psychology and four copywriting certifications. With over five years of experience, I've learned to balance my creative and analytical skills and worked successfully with major industry-leading brands.’
5. Do you have questions for me?
A hiring manager may ask this question at the end of the interview to give you a chance to clear your doubts. Resist the temptation to say no, even if you're confident about the job and the interview. The question shows the employer that you have done your research and are serious about the job.
Examples: ‘Thank you for the interview, Linda. I do have a few more questions. First, what does a regular day look like for a marketing director at Betta Company?’
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