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Conducting Mock Interviews

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The main difference between conducting a mock interview session and working on a presentation with the tutee is the addition of role-playing.  Rest assured, all your usual peer tutoring skills and instincts apply, and your tutee will benefit just from being able to practice answering questions with you.  Ultimately you want to build their confidence, and help them be aware of how they are coming across in the interview.  Below are guidelines and procedures on how to lead a mock interview, interview tips you can share with your tutee, and practice interview questions for various types of situations. 

What to keep in mind as the OCT

  • Body language issues: Note if it changes throughout interview
  • As the interviewer, try varying your own body language to give the student a sense of different kinds of interviewers.
  • Role Play: choose how to act as the interviewer
  • Consider worst case scenario and especially tricky questions
  • Make up logical follow-up questions
  • Consider room arrangement, seating
  • Talk about current events (OCT does not need to know the details)

Advice for the Interviewee

  • Try to enjoy your interview. The interviewers generally want to see interviewees succeed.
  • Make sure to review all your own application materials right before your interview. (To avoid forgetting some of the specifics you submitted.)
  • Interviewing is usually not about establishing qualifications. That happens in the resume review process.
  • Often the answer to a question is not important - it's your mental process on display in answering. Make sure to narrate your thought process.
  • Before answering any question, it's good to take a breath. When you don't launch too quickly into an answer, you come off as more self-assured, reflective.
  • Spend less time on "context" and more on what was learned and applied. (part of STAR technique: Situation, Task, Action, Result)
  • Convey strong Knowledge of Self, Knowledge of Industry, and Knowledge of Company. Interviewees should know how to articulate their strengths, experience, and goals. They should be informed about industry standards and issues. They should have done research on the organization’s mission, history, and people.
  • Don’t use vague labels. Don’t say, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m a people-person.” Instead, interviewees should focus on specific examples and anecdotes that highlight their skills and make them stand out from other applicants.
  • For questions about weaknesses: If asked, “What are your weaknesses?” be honest, but put a positive spin on the response. For example: Don’t say, “I’m always late.” Say, “I tend to take on a lot of projects at once and sometimes I have trouble balancing everything. I recently bought a Palm Pilot to help me stay organized and on time, and it has been working really well to help me with time management.” (This follows the STAR method.)
  • For questions about strengths: If asked, “What is your greatest accomplishment?” be honest and don’t worry about sounding arrogant. A lot of people have trouble with talking about their strengths. Don’t dilute your response to be humble and don’t start with a shaky, “Well… I think my greatest strength might be…” If worried about sounding arrogant, remember that actual arrogant people probably wouldn’t bother to be worried.
  • Be yourself! If you are trying to say what you think the employer wants to hear, you will probably be wrong! Focus on presenting your best self.