Interviews are two-way streets. While this can be comforting in some sense, it also means that you have to practice for your interview just as much as the interviewer has practiced for you. After all, you only get one real shot to impress them enough to hand you the job. First impressions are everything, and they usually go a lot smoother if you take the time to practice ahead of time.
The 5-Step Interview Practice Exercise
Here is a 5-step interview practice exercise that can better prepare you for the next job interview you have coming up.
1. Prepare an answer to “Why do you want to work here?” and “What makes you an excellent fit for this role?” by researching the company.
If there is one thing that is for sure, it is that the interviewer is 100% going to ask you why you want to work at the company and what you think makes you a solid fit for the role for which you are interviewing. And, if you do not know the answers to these two basic questions, then you are not going to get much further. That's why it's important to prepare an answer for each question and write it down, to cement it on your mind.
Why you want to work there should be simple. After all, why did you apply for the job with that company in the first place? Admittedly, maybe you just need a job and mass applied to a whole bunch of places — and they happened to give you a call back. But you do not want to ever say that out loud. Instead, find something specific to the company that really resonates with you.
For example, are you inspired by its leadership board? Are you an avid consumer of its products or services? Do you align with the company's values? If it's all three of these things, and maybe even more, you can certainly touch on everything you love about the company. But do your best to narrow in on one thing in particular so it sounds genuine.
Then, you will have to explain why you are a good fit. Talking about yourself can feel awkward at times. Boasting about your skills and essentially tooting your own horn can feel even more uncomfortable. But you have to do it! One way to make this easier is by backing yourself with credibility. For example, perhaps you can identify a challenge that the company is facing. You can talk about the experiences you have under your belt that allow you to help the company solve that challenge. Share specifics — what you have done in the past and how you plan to leverage those skills to do the same and more for the company for which you are interviewing.
2. Rehearse your answers to these commonly asked interview questions.
Choose a handful of them that you think are likely to come up, given the context of the interview, and practice rehearsing your answers to them. You can do this either in the mirror, to yourself, or with a friend or family member. Rehearsing these answers out loud can help you feel more comfortable and confident with them — so you speak with conviction when it comes time. It can also help you determine a steady speaking pace and make sure that your answers don't go rattling on for too long.
Here's a list of questions to practice, to get you started:
- Why are you interested in the role?
- What do you know about this organization?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Why are you currently unemployed?
- What did you do in the years that are missing from your resume?
- What do you think are your strengths?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- What's one of your greatest professional achievements?
- Do you have a work ‘style’?
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a coworker. How did you handle it?
- Do you prefer working independently or on a team?
- How do you deal with pressure or stress?
3. Write out your own questions.
Remember that an interview is a two-way street. So you should come with questions for the interviewer, too. Write down questions that you have for the interviewer. Maybe you have questions about what the role entails, who you will be working with and what the benefits are in the compensation package. For inspiration on good questions to ask an interviewer, check out this Fairygodboss article
4. Rehearse your elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is important in an interview because you need to be able to explain who you are and why they should care quickly and concisely without leaving out important bits of information. You will need to rehearse this, as well.
Come up with a a line or two that describes who you are, what you do and how you can uniquely help this company solve their unique challenges that you can share in just a minute or two. Then rehearse it in the mirror, to yourself or to a willing practice participant. If you practice it with someone else, always ask for their feedback. You never know if an elevator pitch works unless it works on ears other than your own.
5. Run through the logistics.
Lastly, you will want to run through all of the logistics before heading to your interview. If you are going to an in-person interview, for example, you will need to confirm the date, time and location. Make sure that you have the address correct. Make you know how to get into the building if you will need special access. And make sure that you know how you are going to get there — by car, train, bus, etc. Give yourself more than enough time in case you hit traffic or there are delays with public transportation.
If you have a virtual interview, make sure you know whether it will be by phone or video. If it is by video, will it be over Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, Slack video or something else? Do you have the correct phone number or video meeting link? Are you sure you have the right date and time — and are you sure that you have the correct time zone in case the interviewer is somewhere different than you are? Is your audio working? Have you tested it? Is your camera working? Have you tested it? Make sure that all of your technology is functioning properly.
Other things to keep in mind before the big day: Know what you are going to wear. Make sure that you have a quiet space to take the call if it is virtual. Make sure that you have printed copies of your resume and/or portfolio work if it is in person. And make sure that you have completed steps one through four so you are totally and completely ready to crush your interview and get the job!
About the Career Expert:
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.