Try pretend interviews before the real thing

Mock sessions are a good preparation

Ever seen yourself on video and cringed at how you sound in real life? Imagine if you could watch yourself at a job interview. Chances are you might squirm at your answers or perhaps just the way you answer the interviewer's questions.

Job experts recommend people try mock interviews before the real thing and some career coaches and consultants provide mock interviews for budding job candidates. Or if you have honest friends and family — preferably with some experience — they can help out.

Writing on Quint Careers, Katharine Hansen says anyone can benefit from polishing their job interview skills. Mock interviews reduce anxiety and build confidence. Hansen says they give people a chance to get feedback about how they come across in a job interview and think about things like tailoring responses and researching the employer.

“Consider conducting mock interviews with a variety of people to get some different perspectives. If you've been doing them with career professionals, add friends to the mix and vice versa. Your friends may be more honest with you about any shortcomings they see in your interview performance.”

Hansen recommends getting the mock interviews videotaped so people can then assess the non-verbal aspects of their performance. She says this is important because many people do not realise the behaviours they exhibit.

“I once had a student who had no idea during a mock interview that he kept swishing his hand back and forth across the tabletop, as though he were brushing crumbs away. Another sniffed loudly and rhythmically throughout the interview. Both were nervous habits that the interviewees had no awareness of.”

People can also address vocal issues such as speaking too quickly or slowly.

Hansen says upcoming interviewees can also rehearse their responses by themselves, perhaps even recording their answers to listen to what an employer will hear.

“Written rehearsal is another effective technique. Composing and then practicing responses to likely interview questions will yield greater security during the real interview.”

Mental rehearsal is another suggestion — it's the sort of thing recommended by sports psychologists.

Writing on Monster.com, Carole Martin also makes a link with sports.

“Working with a professional and getting feedback on your performance in a mock interview is similar to working with a sports coach to learn how to improve your game. Both will enable you to learn where your strengths lie and where you may need work to improve your performance.”

Dealing with that feedback on how to make the improvements is not always easy, but an article on greatcvs.co.uk says it’s important to listen to feedback.

“For instance, your friend might tip you off to a bad habit (like cracking your knuckles) or to a verbal ‘tic’, such as saying ‘um’ between every sentence that you never even realised you had. And the more you know about yourself, the more opportunity you'll have to keep those behaviours in check on the day of your actual interview.”

The greatcvs article suggests the applicant have a turn at playing the interviewer.

“It's a wonderful role-reversal experience, and will completely change your perspective on your upcoming meeting.”

If you want some help on doing a mock interview check out job-interview.net, which has a huge bank full of questions that you might want to practice before the day in order to seem eloquent and professional on the day itself. For example, under the teamwork section there is this question: Name some of the pitfalls to be avoided in building an effective team, while under the Weaknesses section is: What part of your current job are you the least comfortable with? Under the problem solving section, there's: How have you incorporated collaborative problem solving?

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