What to Expect at a Mock (and actual) Interview

As recruitment season is in full swing, I’ve been receiving appointments for mock interviews. What exactly is a mock interview, you ask? It’s the best type of preparation you can expect to get before the interview for your dream (or not so dream) job.

So you received an email saying that a company would like to interview you – congrats! Now, don’t panic, you’ve got this! Clearly your resume (and/or cover letter) caught the eye of the recruiter or hiring manager and they saw that you have potential to be a top candidate. The writing part is over (unless you have to do a tech/case interview), now you can focus on the interview itself and how to best prepare for it. One of the hardest things during the interview is telling your story. You already know your story, but it’s being able to think quickly and about specific circumstances that can sometimes throw us off.

What to expect during a mock & actual interview:

  1. Dress accordingly – this is a mock interview, so make sure you’re taking it seriously and show up professionally dressed. This will get you in the mindset to dress for the interview. Be sure to do some research to see if the company you’re interviewing with is a suit-place, or something like a start-up, where a suit more than likely wouldn’t be needed.
  2. Handshake & eye contact – make sure to greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and maintain eye contact. These two things show an employer how invested/excited you are to be there, so make sure to let them know!
  3. What do bring – make sure to have copies of your resume, a padfolio (or something to hold you resumes), a pen, and a pad of paper to take notes if need be (a padfolio will have all of this). Don’t bring many bags with you – less is more.
  4. Body language – during the interview, make sure you have excellent posture: sit up straight, shoulders back, hands on the table. If you know you are one to fidget or talk with your hands or play with a pen, fold your hands and place them on the table.
  5. Review the company – you will more than likely be asked company-specific questions, so make sure you do your research: Who is the CEO? When did the company start? Where do they have offices? What do they actually do? Who are their competitors? Etc. Always know the company for which you’re interviewing! You don’t have to know their entire history, but look up information, news articles, anything – something that will impress them and make you stand out.
  6. Know your history – this interview will be all about you and your experiences and why you are the ideal fit for the position. You will get asked a variety of questions based on your previous experiences, so it’s wise to review your resume and to look up behavioral interview questions online to get a sense of what to expect: What is your greatest strength? What is a weakness of yours? What is something that you’re proud of whether it is something professional or not? If you were a fruit, what would you be? (Those questions aren’t always included, but you’d be surprised how often they come up!) The interviewer wants to know about your past and the jobs/experiences that led you to this day. Be confident in your responses – you know what you’ve done in the past – just practice going over it before the interview.
  7. Have questions prepared for interviewers – at the end of your interview, they’ll ask you if you have questions for them: always have 2-3 questions prepared to ask the interviewer(s) whether it’s about the job, company, or how they like working there. Never ask about salary!!
  8. Send a thank you email after – once the interview is over and you shake hands thanking the interviewer(s), when you get home, send a thank you email to everyone involved in your interview within 12 hours. Then and only then is your interview officially complete.

If you have an interview lined up and want to practice these tips, schedule a mock interview via Handshake with an advisor at Career Services!

By Kevin Haines
Kevin Haines Associate Director, Engineering