Mock Interview Preparation
Dear Mock Interview Job Candidate,
Your mock interview will give you a safe simulation in which you can discover weaknesses of your interview/interpersonal communication style that could cost you a job in a real-life situation. The process will highlight any gaps between your "head knowledge" about interviewing and your actual ability to clearly present yourself, your training, and your abilities. I believe that you will find this an extremely valuable experience, and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
Center for Student Development
- Read through the following information carefully to know what to expect in your mock interview and to prepare well for it. Allow at least several hours to prepare your thoughts, questions, and answers to anticipated questions. Consider carefully how your skills, training, research, and experiences make you a good fit for your selected job description, and be prepared to communicate this clearly. You should script and practice your answers to key questions.
- Come to Robertson Hall, Room 215 ten minutes before your scheduled appointment time so that you can ask any questions this material does not clarify before your interview begins.
- Please dress appropriately for a professional interview (suit, polished shoes, neat grooming, minimal jewelry, no cologne). Treating the interview as if it were the real thing is the single most important thing you can do to make the most of this experience.
What to Expect
Your mock interview will follow a format typically used when your resume has attracted the attention of an employer by listing skills, training, and experience particularly valuable to them. While the employer is determining how well you fit the company, you need to use this opportunity to build relationship with the interviewers, "sell" your skills and abilities, and look for indications of how well the company will fit you. Click here to learn more about other types of interviews you may encounter in your real-life job search.
When you arrive, you will be escorted to an interview room where you will have a 30-minute interview with a team of two people. One person is specially trained in interviewing and feedback, while the other person is a subject matter expert selected by your school. If you know either of your interviewers, do not acknowledge the fact. They will not acknowledge any previous knowledge of you in order to safeguard the realism of the interview. From the moment you walk into the interview room, the interview is "live." Do not come out of your role for any reason. If you feel you did something poorly, just keep going. When the interview is over, you may request the opportunity to redo that section during your feedback time.
Immediately after your interview, you will receive up to 20 minutes of verbal feedback from the interview team. You will also receive written feedback and a DVD of your session and feedback.
Structure of Your Interview & Answering Questions Well
Every interview is different , but you can expect four general stages to most interviews. Your mock interview will familiarize you with these.
Stage 1 - A minute or two for greetings and building initial rapport. Remember that lasting impressions are often made in the first 10 seconds of meeting. Tips: Demonstrate enthusiasm for the position and the company, greet the interviewer by name (names will be posted on the doors), use good eye contact and a firm handshake, and initiate or respond well to small talk to establish comfort and common ground with the interviewer.
Stage 2 - Exchange of general information.
At this stage, the interviewer wants to find out more about you as a person and potential employee. You may be asked questions about your goals, interests, and experiences to determine if your personality, aptitudes, and qualifications are attractive to the interviewer. The interviewer may also describe the goals and characteristics of the position and the site in general. Your reasoning and communication skills are particularly noticeable during Stages 2 and 3, so listen carefully to questions and information. Make sure your responses are clear, well thought-out, and concise. Try to anticipate questions you will be asked, and practice your responses ahead of time. Consider the findings of a recent Michigan State University employment study stating that most companies look for the following qualities in new employees (CAM Report, March, 2004):
- Strong oral and written communication skill
- Strong work ethic
- Willingness to acquire new skills
Other skills that often make the list in such studies include a positive attitude, computer software skills, integrity, problem-solving ability, organization, leadership, a customer-service orientation, time management, and the ability to perform well under pressure. Be sure to highlight desired characteristics such as these in your answers to interview questions.
Your mock interview will include some behavioral interview questions in which you will be asked to tell how you performed in a given situation in the past or how you would perform in a hypothetical situation.
You will often be asked about your goals. If asked why you want this position (short-term goal), be sure to clearly connect your strengths and interests with the activities and needs of the employer. How would you make life easier for the employer, if selected? To prepare for questions about longer-range goals, think about the childhood connect-the-dots puzzles. You need to think through and practice an answer to this question that illustrates how the first dot (your past experience, study, and skill) is in line with the second dot (this position) and how both of these dots align with the third dot (bigger goals that will take longer to achieve). You don't have to be a fortune-teller; you simply must be able to dream and communicate your vision realistically.
- Typical Stage 2 and Stage 3 questions and general response strategies
- Monster.com's vitual interviews - This excellent site will allow you to consider the best responses to questions asked in your field. Choose the virtual interview that best fits your discipline.
- Other specific questions and how to answer them well:
Stage 3: - Rightness of fit.
Once the interviewer gets some sense of who you are and your desired career trajectory, he or she will begin to explore how well suited you are to the position. Take advantage, at this stage, of opportunities to elaborate on your key skills that relate to this job. The more specific you can be about related skills, the better. Don't just say you have certain skills; describe how you have used them to good effect. As in resume-writing, discussing outcomes and statistics (dollars saved, number of people supervised, percentage of sales increased, number of client visits, etc.) can help significantly here. During this stage, most interviewers will also ask you if you have questions about the position or company. Being prepared with questions to ask the interviewer demonstrates your interest and investment in a position. Advance research on the company is critical at this stage.
- More information about researching employers
- Planning for questions to ask an employer
- More great questions to ask an employer
- Concise answers; welcome questions
Stage 4 - Closure.
Interviewers often signal the movement toward closure nonverbally or by summarizing. It is critical to reaffirm your interest in the position at this point and to make any of your key points that you have not already made. Finally, be sure to thank the interviewer for the interview, express your pleasure in making his or her acquaintance, and find out what the next step is in the decision process so that you can make appropriate follow-up actions.
- Succesfully closing an interview
- Following up after an interview
- Links to other resources:
Please feel free to contact CSD at firstname.lastname@example.org.