Don’t Overlook the Importance of Mock Interviews

mock interview

Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultants serve as career coaches for a job seeker during a mock interview.

They say a great resume will help you get your foot in the door, but it’s how well you handle the interview which determines if you actually get offered the job.

Beth Larson and Katie Taylor, workforce consultants in the Idaho Department of Labor’s Pocatello office, often recommend and perform mock interviews for job seekers. “If you’ve gone on more than four job interviews but have not received a job offer, you may need to ask for help in the form of a mock interview,” Larson said. Larson and Taylor shared the top reasons any job seeker will benefit from a mock interview:

It will help reduce your stress about an important interview.

An important job interview can be very stressful and it is exactly this type of situation which makes most people nervous and more likely to blow it. A little practice with a job coach can make all the difference. Larson and Taylor have helped to coach students who have little to no experience in the job market and need help learning how to handle an interview as well as job seekers who have not been on an interview in a few years. “There are always things we can improve upon when it comes to making a great first impression with a prospective employer,” Taylor said.

It will give you a chance to receive valuable feedback so you can make the best possible impression at your interview.

When Larson and Taylor set up a mock interview they aim to simulate the actual interview as much as possible. They have the job seeker come dressed as they would for the interview and ask the same type of questions they will be asked based on the type of job they are applying for. At the end of the interview, Larson and Taylor provide feedback on how to improve in every aspect of the interview including physical appearance as well as ways to revise answers. “We have had to have some tough conversations with more than a few job seekers, but they’re grateful once they land a job because they’ve made the changes we suggest,” Larson said.

It will give you the confidence you need to perform your best during the interview.

Going into an important interview after having a chance to practice really helps a job seeker feel more confident which then helps them make an even better impression at their actual interview. After a mock interview, Larson and Taylor also will help the job seeker understand their strengths better and learn how to use those to their advantage in an interview. “When people can see their strengths from the perspective of the employer, they feel more confident and perform so much better at the job interview,” Taylor said.

Applying for a higher level position calls for higher level interview skills.

“Many job seekers who have held the same job for a few years may be looking at changing jobs in hopes of landing a position with more responsibility,” Taylor said. “The types of questions they will be asked can be quite different from what they were asked at their last interview.” Larson and Tayor customize the mock interview experience to the position the job seeker is applying for and will even research the type of questions typically asked by that particular employer.

It will help you prepare answers for tough interview questions.

“Tell me about yourself is one of the most common “ice breaker” questions and yet most people don’t know how to answer that question,” Larson said. Additionally, an employer will often ask questions about how you have behaved in certain situations in order to give them an idea of how you will behave in similar situations in the future. These can be tough questions to know how to answer. Larson and Taylor will help coach job seekers so they can prepare answers for these questions.

The Idaho Department of Labor has workforce consultants who perform mock interview in every office and will help coach any job seeker. You do not have to be receiving unemployment benefits in order to request help. Workforce consultants also are able to visit local high schools and coach students in a classroom setting. If you think you might benefit from a mock interview, please contact your local office.

— Kristie Winslow, technical writer,
Idaho Department of Labor

The Top Five Interview Questions That Typically Trip People Up and How to Answer Them

#5 – Why should we hire you?

Be specific and highlight any experience, education or accomplishments which match the job description you’re applying for and focus on why you would be a good fit for the company.

#4 – What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Mention a strength that is not presented in your resume and give an example of how it has helped you on the job. As for a weakness, be honest and share a weakness but also make sure to share how you have worked to overcome it at work.

#3 – What are your salary requirements?

Be prepared and do your homework ahead of time. Use JobScape to research the typical salary range for the type of job you are interviewing for. JobScape makes it really easy to find wage information specific to your region of Idaho.

#2 – Tell me about yourself.

Prepare a short answer which includes information about your education and professional background (NOT your personal life) that will show how you will be a good fit for the job and the company.

The No. 1 question people get hung up on is…

#1 – Do you have any questions for us?

This is one of the final and most commonly asked job interview questions and it allows the interviewer to see how interested you are in the position. Often people don’t ask any questions or they ask the wrong the questions. (A tip is to not ask questions about wages, time off or benefits.) Prepare a minimum of 3-5 questions before the interview to ask the employer. Larson and Taylor have suggested job seekers ask the following questions:

  • What is a typical day like?
  • Is there anything on my resume that I can clear up for you?
  • When should I expect to hear from you?
  • What do you like best about this company?
  • What is the typical career path for someone in this role?