As a requirement for my Career Counseling class, I participated in a mock interview today at the Saint Rose Career Center. A mock interview is essentially a chance to practice interview skills without the stress of risking a job opportunity.
We aren’t born with great interviewing skills, so participating in a mock interview is a great way to try out our well-rehearsed answers and nonverbal cues. Here is a recap of my experience along with recommendations for preparing for mock interviews!
Preparing for the Mock Interview
Before the date of my mock interview, I researched common interview questions and drafted answers I would want to use if it were the real thing. I also spent some time reflecting on relevant education and work-related experiences (such as personal achievements and how I handled challenging workplace experiences), strengths and weaknesses, personality characteristics, and my passions and goals. I developed and gathered the following materials to bring with me (Note: the more you put into your mock interview, the more you’ll get out of it):
1.) A job posting of personal interest relevant to my field of study (this one was for a college disability services position)
2.) An up-to-date copy of my resume with experiences relevant to the position highlighted
3.) A cover letter tailored to the job description
4.) An understanding of the organization’s values, setting, and services from researching their website
The Actual “Interview”
On the morning of the mock interview, I briefly reviewed my materials and the answers I drafted to common interview questions. Even though this was going to be a practice interview, I still felt a little bit nervous and wanted to be prepared as possible. The interviewer asked some really great questions, some of which I was expecting and some I wasn’t fully prepared for, including:
1.) What are my short and long term goals?
2.) How have I handled challenging situations working with students and faculty?
3.) What do I know about current research and trends in the field?
4.) How do I de-stress or handle stressful situations?
5.) What have I found frustrating in my past work experiences?
6.) What 3 words describe me as an employee?
7.) What is the most recent book you have read lately? (a surprise of a question)
I felt great about some of the answers I had rehearsed and it was very helpful that I prepared before arriving to the interview. However, coming out of the mock interview, I realized areas where I would like to better develop my responses.
1.) When being asked what three words describe you (or some variation), you can pull words used in the job posting/description to develop your responses. That way you highlight the qualifications and personality traits the employer is directly looking for.
2.) When asked about the previous setting you worked in, don’t focus solely on your role in that setting but what the characteristics of the setting were and how it operated (i.e., what services were provided and which populations were served). I accidentally focused on my duties without addressing the functions of the office, therefore not answering the actual question.
3.) It’s okay to stop and reflect after being asked a question. I tended to want to jump into my answers as soon it was asked, but realized I could have taken a moment to collect my thoughts. When I plunged into an answer, sometimes I felt I didn’t know where I was going with my response.
4.) Interview preparation is a process and not a means to an end. Just because I have completed a mock interview and come out feeling confident does not mean my delivery doesn’t need work. Since my session was recorded, I’ll get to go back and critique myself in the comfort of my home.