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How to Conduct the Mock Interview

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Step 1: Greet the Client

Get to know the student. Determine the date of the interview, the type of interview (phone interview, screening interview, second round interview, etc.), the type of career or industry, and whether or not the student has anything specific that s/he would like for you to cover.

Step 2: Choose Interview Questions

Choose the appropriate interview handout. We have handouts available for general employment, medical school, academic job interviews, and Fulbright scholarship interviews. (Hard copies of handouts should be available in the file pocket in the OCT tutoring room.) You may also choose or modify questions to suit the client’s needs.

Step 3: Conduct the Mock Interview

As the interviewer:

  • Get into character. Be engaging but somewhat straight-faced. Avoiding saying “Wonderful!” or “How interesting!”
  • Simulate a defined beginning of the actual interview. Leave the room and enter as the mock employer.
  • Greet the interviewee. Shake hands, and ask for a copy of the client’s resume. Start with, “Tell me about yourself.”
  • Ask your questions. Whenever possible, try to keep the interview flowing like a conversation. Feel free to ask follow-up questions about a response given by your interviewee.
  • At the end of the interview, ask the interviewee, “Do you have any questions for me [the employer]?” You may not know the answers, but this will give the client a chance to think about what to ask. Stay in character and let the student know that the answers would be discussed in a real interview but that you will simply need to move on.
  • Conclude the interview. Thank the interviewee for their time and let them know that you will be contacting them regarding the next steps of the interview process.

As the OCT:

  • Take detailed notes. Notes will help you to provide detailed feedback. You can write on the interview handout, or simply jot your observations and comments on a pad of paper.
  • Look for strengths as well as areas for improvement. Pay attention to both content and delivery.
  • “Tell me about yourself…” When asked, “Tell me about yourself,” an interviewee should focus on autobiographical details that give the interviewer a sense of who s/he is and that also suggest her/his suitability for the job (the school, the scholarship, etc.).
  • Assess the effectiveness of the client’s examples. The interviewee will be providing you with examples to support answers to questions. The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) can help students structure concise, effective responses. Students have a tendency to talk too much about the situation and omit the result. Instead, the student should touch briefly on all four areas.

Step 4: Discuss

  • What went well? What needs improvement? First, ask the tutee what s/he thinks. Go over your notes together.
  • In your feedback, consider the following areas:
    • Delivery (voice, confidence, enthusiasm)
    • Body language, positioning (posture, closed vs. open body language, distracting mannerisms)
    • Thought structure (Did the client provide examples?  Did they answer the question clearly?  Did they use the STAR method effectively when appropriate?)
    • Ability to be concise
  • Practice. After discussing how the mock interview went, pose troublesome questions to the tutee again so that s/he can practice new techniques.
  • Discourage memorization of answers to sample questions. It is better to prepare by thinking in terms of themes that you will highlight in the interview: Background, Skills & Abilities, Examples, etc.
  • Discuss how the student can prepare for the real interview. Refer the student to the Oral Communication Program’s “Interviewing 101” handout for other advice. For example: Dress appropriately, ask for the employer’s business card, send a thank-you note, etc.

Suggested Mock Interview Exercises from BEAM

  • Videotape
  • Try giving ½ the questions, then feedback, then the second ½ so interviewee can practice suggestions for improvement
  • Have the student consider the question "Tell me about yourself".  Practice responding to that question to convey knowledge of self, knowledge of organization, and knowledge of industry.
  • Describe the STAR method (situation, task, action, result), important to focus on ACTION and RESULT.  Ask a "Tell me about a time when..." question and have the student practice the STAR method.
  • If the student is prepping for a phone interview, conduct the questions over the phone.  (Use the lobby phone and the student's cell phone, for example.)  Ask 3-4 questions, then reconvene face-to-face to talk about how it went, then try additional questions over the phone.
  • If the student is preparing for an interview via webcam, try to simulate that as well