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How to master a mock interview in any industry

June 8, 2024
Borderless Leadership

Mock interviews, or practice interviews, aren’t just for students. In fact, a mock interview can benefit anyone at any experience level. Why? Because interview processes, tools and etiquette change over time.

A mock interview allows you to have a dress rehearsal where you can focus on building confidence, learning (or honing) interview skills and receiving valuable feedback. Also, it’s an increasingly competitive job market—especially for the technology industry. After mass layoffs, technical interviews are more grueling than ever. So, if you want to be well-prepared and stand out from the crowd, a mock interview is a great way to do it.

A mock interview is a practice session that simulates the interaction you would have with the actual interviewer. It can be conducted virtually or in person with a friend, mentor or former colleague. Preferably, choose an interviewer you trust who has industry-specific knowledge and experience. That way, the feedback you receive will be more objective, insightful and actionable.

The key to a successful practice interview is doing your homework. Here’s a guide to help you prepare so you can increase your chances of landing the ideal role.

Do Your Research
Mock interviews are most helpful if you treat them as seriously as the actual interview. In preparation, research the company to familiarize yourself with its goals, values and mission statement. Learn about the company culture and its competitive differentiators. Helpful information sources include the corporate website, social media sites, press releases and news articles. Use LinkedIn to find current employees who are willing to share information on what it’s like to work there. Remember, job interviews are a two-way street. So, as you conduct research, write down any questions you’d like to ask.

Prepare Answers To Common Questions
To show you’re the ideal candidate for the job, formulate responses to popular interview questions. While you don’t know exactly what you’ll be asked, some common ones include:

Tell me about yourself.
How did you hear about the position?
Why are you interested in working for this company?
Why are you thinking of leaving your current job?
What is your ideal work environment?
How do you define success?
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Tell me about a time you failed.
How do you handle conflict?

Be Aware of Non-Verbal Communication
Beyond giving good answers, body language and other non-verbal cues can be an effective way to impress the interviewer. One of the first things interviewers notice is your appearance, so dress professionally. Other types of non-verbal communication include:

Eye contact: maintain good eye contact without staring

Facial expressions: smile and nod when appropriate

Body posture: sit up straight and lean forward a bit to show interest

Finally, remember to keep your cell phone off or on vibrate mode to avoid distractions.

Leverage AI Tools
A growing number of AI tools can help you prepare for job interviews from the comfort of your home. For example, you can conduct mock interviews with ChatGPT acting as the interviewer. Once you practice answering questions in real-time, request feedback from ChatGPT on your responses and areas for improvement. ChatGPT can then recommend other AI tools like Big Interview, which offers a combination of AI-driven mock interviews and expert feedback. If you’re looking for an AI interview coach, Huru lets you practice unlimited interviews from any job offer on popular job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn. Following a realistic interview experience, you’ll receive an analysis of your delivery, vocabulary and the quality of your answers.

Enlist the Help Of A Professional
If you really want to improve your interviewing skills, you can seek the help of an expert. For example, sites like Prepfully.com allow you to schedule an anonymous one-on-one session with an interview coach from your target company for a fee. If you need to practice for a coding interview and are on a budget, Pramp is a free, online peer-to-peer platform for practicing technical interviews. For those interested in working for a FAANG company, interviewing.io has some of the most experienced interviewers on the market. While it comes with a cost, experts are very carefully vetted. It can also be a way to get your foot in the door at top organizations. When you do well in mock interviews, you receive invitations to interview anonymously with companies on the platform. If you continue to excel, that interview could count as your technical phone screen and lead to an onsite meeting.

Remain Open To Feedback
Research has shown that being receptive to feedback can dramatically boost career development. So, let the interviewer know you want to improve and ask them to address your strengths and weaknesses. See if they have any tips to help you do better next time. Listen attentively and keep an open mind. If you’re unsure about anything, be curious and ask clarifying questions. Then, thank the person for their feedback and take time to reflect on it. Once you identify key areas to focus on, set specific goals and develop an improvement plan for the next practice interview.

Imagine walking into job interview confident, calm and prepared. Those are just some of the benefits of mock interviews. By incorporating them into your preparation strategy, you’ll stand out in a competitive market and get one step closer to landing your dream job.

by Caroline Castrillon

Source: forbes.com

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