A UIC LAS alumna, Faith Korey, comments on her recent Mock Interview.
They say practice makes perfect and that is certainly true in preparing for any type of interview; this is especially true in a face-to-face meeting. One of the best ways to prepare for an actual interview is through a mock interview. Although you can practice by looking in the mirror and with a friend or family member, it helps to have a trained interviewer coach you through the process. The mock interview simulates an interview in a safe environment. Being prepared for the actual interview helps reduce anxiety and allows you to correct any mistakes that could eliminate you as a potential candidate.
I was excited at the prospect of a mock interview for several reasons. I wanted to make sure I highlighted my transferable skills since I am changing careers. I also wanted observations on whether the reasons I wanted to change careers seemed believable.
I chose a position that had been posted on a job board in my new field and emailed the link to Julie Bartimus at ACC. To prepare for the interview, I researched the organization by connecting to their web site and reviewing their annual report I used the U of I Virtual Career Center interviewing tips. I dissected the job posting and compared it to my resume. I prepared stories that highlighted my accomplishments. I memorized my elevator speech.
I think you gain the most from the mock interview if you treat it as a “real” interview. This includes wearing professional “dress to impress” attire. Although I have become accustomed to dressing in “business casual”, dressing up helped create the ideal interview atmosphere.
On the day of the mock interview I arrived 15 minutes early as I would do for an actual interview. Julie greeted me; we shook hands and made small talk. Julie had researched the skills and technical proficiencies required for the position. For the next thirty minutes Julie asked a variety of probing questions ranging from the classic opener “tell me about yourself”, technical skills, interpersonal skills, strengths and weaknesses, and behavioral and situational questions. As I answered the questions Julie took notes on everything from my responses to my demeanor and eye contact.
After completing her round of questions, Julie then asked me if I had any questions. Julie again took notes on everything I said.
The value of the mock interview lies in the immediate constructive criticism and feedback. I learned from our discussion I needed to better highlight transferable skills for my new field without dwelling on the length of time I spent in my previous industry. I learned I looked like a “deer in the headlights” when I responded to one question and that I need to maintain eye contact while highlighting my portfolio. I also was glad to hear that I showed a great deal of enthusiasm and passion and demonstrated subject matter expertise about my new field. As additional follow-up, Julie provided me with a copy of her notes which I have found to be invaluable.
From my reading about mock interviews, career professionals have said the more mock interviews you complete, the more skilled you become. Even one mock interview can help improve your interviewing skills exponentially while building your confidence.
I know from personal experience this is true. Several days after the mock interview, I had an interview where many of the same questions were asked. The mock interview had prepared me well and I felt far more certain in my responses to the questions that were posed.