The Best Way to Practice for Your Next Job Interview

There are very few skills in this world that can be acquired without practice, and mastering your job interview proficiency is certainly one of them.

mock-interviews-businessman-fastening-tieBy now, most of us have learned the basics of preparing for a job interview; dressing appropriately and professionally, being equipped with a powerful resume, becoming acquainted with the details of the job description, and researching the company with which you are interviewing. However, there is a notable difference between preparing for, and practicing for a job interview.

What is a mock interview?

The process of emulating or reenacting an actual interview for purposes of training is considered a mock interview.  It is intended to resemble an actual job interview as closely as possible to help candidates gain a more in-depth understanding of what will be expected of them in a real interview.  Job applicants can learn to hone in on their ability to present themselves confidently and professionally.  In many cases, mock interviews can be videotaped, allowing the interviewee to gain their own insight and feedback.

Making arrangements

Mock-interview training can be obtained through recruiting consultants and career coaches.  However, in addition to career professionals, it’s also helpful to try a mock interview with some trusted friends or family members in order to gain a broad perspective on what to expect.  Additionally, varied individuals can provide you with a wide range of feedback.

When approaching a mock interview, it’s best to treat it as closely to the real thing as possible.  Dress as you would for an actual interview, and even ask your interviewer to present you with some difficult or unexpected questions to keep it realistic.

Creating a mock interview

If you’ve sought the services of a career professional, then the mock interview will have already been designed, but if you have decided to rehearse your interview with someone you know personally, then you should supply them with a list of some common interview questions.  It’s also a good idea to provide your interviewer with a few extra questions to choose from in order to maintain a certain amount of spontaneity during the process.

The position you are applying for, as well as the nature of the company with which you are interviewing, may dictate what sort of questions you are asked on your actual interview.  However, there are a few typical questions that get asked at most interviews, despite the job or type of organization.

Here are some examples of questions to include when planning your mock interview:

  •  “Describe yourself and your background.”
  • “Explain your strengths (and weaknesses).”
  • “Why do you want to work for this company?”
  • “What was your reason for leaving your last position?”
  • “What is one of your greatest professional accomplishments?”
  •  “Describe how you would overcome a difficult situation at work.”
  • “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”
  • “What can you offer our organization?”
  • “Do you have any questions?”

The topic of salary is not always addressed on the first interview, but be prepared to answer in the event that it is.

Am I on the right track?

Having a general formula for answering common interview questions will give you an extra ounce of confidence.  While you may basicallymock-interviews-three-business-women-sitting-at-table know how you intend to answer a question, it helps to have a go-to system to really help you sharpen and streamline your responses.

Often interviewees who feel under pressure will ramble on a little too long, or even inadvertently omit important facts that may have ultimately help them shine.  It’s crucial to remain on topic and adapt your answers to the company you’re interviewing with, as is managing to give thorough responses that are also concise. Some recommend that direct, closed-ended questions, such as “Why do you want to work for our company?” should only require an answer of approximately 60 seconds, while open-ended questions, such as “Describe yourself and your background.” can require up to or slightly more than two minutes.

However, when answering any interview question, remember to always keep the focal point on the needs of the company, rather than your own.

Also, don’t forget the importance of body language during the interview.  Mock interviews are a perfect opportunity to practice direct eye contact and a confident handshake, all of which you can measure and perfect through viewing your videoed session.

Keep an open mind.

While the individual conducting the mock interview will certainly provide you with valuable feedback to take into account, videotaping the interview and watching the recording on your own, can also really help you streamline your professional communication skills.  It’s possible you may not be entirely satisfied with your first mock interview draft, but through determination, practice, and a balanced perspective, your next real interview will surely be a success.


Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200



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