A Guide to Conducting a Virtual Mock Job Interview

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With so many jobs going remote and so many companies embracing virtual work, it’s no surprise that the majority of first-round job interviews are conducted online, typically via video call. This saves candidates a trip to the company’s location, while the company doesn’t need to worry about accommodating the interviewees, so in many ways, it’s a win-win. However, online interviews also come with additional considerations that don’t apply to the in-person version.

If you’ve been scheduled for a virtual job interview but are feeling unprepared or wondering how it differs from an in-person one, setting up an online mock interview might be just what you need. As with face-to-face interviews, conducting a mock online interview is the best way to prepare for the real thing since it allows you to polish your answers and build up your confidence. All you need is to find someone to interview you who will take it seriously. It’s especially valuable if this is your first online job interview or if you’re not all that well versed in using telecommunications software (tech hiccups can cost you the job if you’re not careful).

Whether you’re doing your online mock job interview with a friend, a mentor, or a job search expert, the most important thing is to treat this dry run like the real thing. If you can, record it so you can watch yourself later and identify areas that need improvement. Even if you’re working with a professional mock interviewer who will provide detailed feedback on your performance, being able to see your body language and hear your tone can be incredibly valuable. 

Speak in full sentences, be polite, listen carefully, mind your body language and eye contact, and dress the part—think of this as a dress rehearsal, and remember that it’s your chance to resolve any lingering issues. Making mistakes here doesn’t come with a cost, so get them all out of the way to ensure that you shine during the real interview.

To derive maximum benefit from this exercise, set up a mock job interview with one of our experts, who will provide objective feedback and tips on improving your interview skills. They can even ask you common industry-specific questions to get you closer to your dream job. Obviously, there’s no way anyone can know exactly what questions you’ll face in the real interview, but even if they differ, a practice interview, especially with a professional, will help boost your confidence.

So, how do you go about conducting a virtual mock job interview? 

1. Schedule the interview

In the same way that you would schedule a real job interview, set a time and date for your mock interview and stick to it. Obviously, it’s your time, and you can reschedule if you absolutely must, but committing to the mock interview will help you take it seriously and derive more value from it. The stakes may be low during a practice run, but you want to replicate the real thing as much as possible. 

Mark a date in your calendar, pick an outfit that looks good on camera and, more importantly, you feel comfortable in, and do your research before the meeting. Since the camera will only capture the top half of your body, nice pants aren’t necessarily mandatory. Still, donning a full interview outfit will help you feel more professional, and you won’t have to worry about your camera accidentally aiming lower than intended. 

If possible, give yourself a few days between the mock interview and the real interview so you have time to address whatever you want to improve. Whether that’s working on how to formulate different answers, controlling anxiety-driven fidgeting, or buying a more comfortable outfit, you don’t want to be rushing through your interview preparation.

2. Find the right spot

As you would for a real online job interview, you want to find a place that’s quiet and well-lit. It should also be uncluttered and clean, without any bulky, distracting objects in the background. Keep in mind that your space is a reflection of you, so be mindful of what your environment might be saying about you and how you can adjust it to convey a more positive message. Avoid using any background filters that your video chat software offers as this will make it look like you have something to hide.

Also, make sure there aren’t any mirrors behind you and anything inappropriate or compromising in the shot—you want to be taken seriously, and your surroundings can say a lot about you. Conducting your mock interviews online is so important because a friend or a professional mock interviewer can let you know if there’s anything improper or distracting in your background. 

Obviously, you also need a reliable internet connection that can support a video call. If you don’t have access to that at home, see if you can conduct the interview at a friend’s or relative’s house. In case you have kids or pets, you’ll ideally entrust them to a friend or a neighbor for the duration of your interview to make sure they don’t burst in at an inopportune time.

3. Prepare for the interview

Prepare for your mock interview as you would for a real job interview. Write down some answers to common interview questions about yourself, your goals, and your expectations, as well as a few questions for the interviewer about the role and the company. Yes, your mock interview is meant to help you prepare for the real thing, but if you also prepare diligently for the mock interview, you’ll get more out of it.

You might think it’s pointless to write down answers to typical questions because you can’t predict what you will be asked on the day of the real interview. That’s true, but practicing your answers will keep you from scrambling for words when you’re under pressure. Besides, most employers are generally after the same information, so in many cases, questions that appear different on the surface may be asking the same thing.

4. Conduct the mock interview via video call 

Aim to be ready at least five minutes early, with your internet connection, sound, and video quality already double-checked. Open the application you and your interview partner are using and wait for the video call to begin. It’s important to use the same app since this will help you familiarize yourself with the software and troubleshoot any tech problems that may arise. The idea is for this mock interview to feel as real as possible, so put yourself in the right frame of mind and forget that this is role-play, even if your interviewer is a close friend or a family member. 

Whoever the mock interviewer is, make sure they’ve got a few common job interview questions ready for you, and ask them to prepare some of their own to keep you on your toes and test your improvisation skills. If you’re working with a friend or a relative, you can’t expect a professional-level mock interview, so be patient with them if they break character or get lost during the exercise. To ensure your mock interview replicates a real job interview as closely as possible, team up with a professional.

5. Get feedback

Once the interview is over, ask your partner to give you feedback on your setup, performance, and communication skills. Were your answers clear? Did you mumble or stumble? Did you maintain eye contact? Were you fidgeting? Did you seem confident or nervous? Ask them what they see as your strengths and weaknesses, what you could improve, and what you did well. If you’re practicing with friends or family, make sure you can trust them to provide honest feedback—your relationship prevents them from being entirely objective, but you want to work with someone who can criticize as well as praise you. If you’re working with a professional, you can count on personalized, expert advice.

In case you have recorded the interview, watch it and analyze your performance, trying to be as objective as possible. Many communication apps come equipped with features that allow you to record calls—just confirm with your interview partner first that they’re comfortable with you filming the exercise. If you feel that you need more practice and preparation and have the time, set up another mock interview or record yourself going over the answers again until you feel more confident in your responses. 

The goal of a mock job interview is to help you gain confidence in expressing yourself, improve your answers to common questions, and sound organic and natural. If you’re preparing for an online interview, it’s important that your practice run takes place in virtual space as well to address the unique challenges of online interviews. If you want to ace your upcoming online job interview and receive constructive feedback from an expert, check out our job success services and get ready for the next step in your career. 

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