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Interview Practice Makes Perfect

Interview Practice Makes Perfect

Make Your Mistakes in a Mock Interview

As with every skill you've ever learned, you have to learn the technique and then practice, practice, practice. A mock interview will not only help you perfect your technique, but it will also allow you to get valuable feedback and coaching on your performance.

Sue is an accomplished tennis player who has worked on her stroke and technique for many years. She has taken lessons from pros, and listened to their advice when they gave her their critiques.

She is now graduating from college and has signed up for some on-campus interviews with recruiters. She feels confident that she knows her subject and is a pretty good talker but decides advice from a professional would be a good idea.

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. Time spent practicing will assist you greatly in either situation. An added bonus to preparing and practicing is the self-confidence you will gain. In today's competitive world, you must be prepared and in top shape.

Before Sue interviews with potential employers, she signs up for a mock interview at the campus career center. She is given an interview tip sheet to read before the scheduled mock interview. The tip sheet includes the following:

What Is a Mock Interview?

  • A 30-minute videotaped session of you in an interview with a professional.
  • A review of the tape with constructive feedback on your performance.

Preparation

  • Prepare for the session by researching your company/industry of interest.
  • Investigate and identify the most common industry traits sought (analytical skills, communication skills, business knowledge and problem solving).
  • Script answers to demonstrate your experience with these factors as well as answers to behavioral interview questions, such as "Tell me about a time when..." and "Can you give me an example of a time..."

The Session

  • Dress in appropriate attire -- as though this is an actual company interview.
  • Greet the interviewer with an enthusiastic handshake and smile.
  • Listen to the question asked. Make sure you know what the interviewer wants to know. Ask for clarification if the question is not clear.
  • Keep your answers concise and to the point -- two to three minutes long.
  • Make sure you are selling the product: You.
  • Have questions prepared to ask the interviewer.

The Feedback

  • Observe your feelings while viewing the tape and listening to your answers. Are you coming across the way you intended?
  • Listen to feedback with an open mind, not defensively.
  • Learn from your performance. How are you being perceived through the eyes of someone who does not know you?

As Sue reads through the tip sheet, she realizes that she has some work to do to prepare for her mock interview. From her tennis experience, she knows the value of learning the proper techniques from a coach and then practicing them. She has decided to devote the same energy to the interview process as she has to her tennis game. The interview match is one game she wants to win.

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