Eight great mock interview hacks

If you’re a student, here’s some great information about what you can expect during a mock interview
by Anna Christodoulou, Make Happen Outreach Officer

One of my very first tasks when I joined Make Happen was to give mock interviews to Year 9 and Year 10 students during a careers week. To do so, I went through some of the interview questions I have actually used before as part of an interview panel. I wanted the experience to be realistic for the students, but not too scary, as the aim is to encourage your candidates to show you their true potential, and not to intimidate them.

So this would be my very first tip – having a mock interview might be a very reasonable source of performance nerves, but remember that both in a mock situation and in real life the interviewers are there because they want to listen to what you have to say – this is quite a rare trait for an audience! Part of their job is to be friendly, to break the ice and to help you show your skills and knowledge. Here are the tips I’d suggest to any student preparing for a mock interview.

1. Read the job description carefully
Try to figure out what skills and experiences are relevant for the role. Then think about how you can demonstrate these by drawing on your own experiences, whether in your school subjects and assignments or any work/volunteering experience you may have. Make sure to highlight these skills and experiences in your CV and cover letter. 

2. Jot down some questions
While reading the job description, you should pencil down any questions you might have about the job – bring them with you and ask them when you are given the chance at the end of the interview.

3. Write a good cover letter
Your cover letter should be different from your CV and add extra value to it. This is your chance to clarify or add things that you couldn’t fit in your CV or to add a personal note on why you want the job.

4. Mind your language!
Be careful about the kind of language you use; it is more powerful to say that you want the job to help you achieve something, such as  new skill, a next step in the specific profession or sector, than to say that you think it would be an enjoyable thing to do.

5. Be specific
Try to be as specific as possible and avoid vague statements. A good way to do this is to use the STAR technique: be specific about a SITUATION where you applied your skills/ strengths at a specific TASK, explain what ACTION you took to achieve it and talk about the RESULT you brought. If this is not applicable, then try to always give an example on how you applied your skills when answering a question. Sometimes the questions help you with this approach anyway – i.e. some classic questions ask you to give an example of a time when you…

  • Worked in a team
  • Led a team project
  • Solved a problem
  • Applied creativity

6. Don’t undersell yourself
Don’t let interview nerves make you rush through the answers, hoping for the interview to finish as soon as possible. Make a point to highlight at least two of your skills, experiences or strengths in every single question.

7. Express yourself clearly
Being able to express yourself with clarity is a skill that we keep learning throughout our entire life. To make sure that you can explain your ideas in a clear way, practice beforehand with someone who doesn’t already know what you are talking about. Prepare for your interview with someone who didn’t help you put your CV or cover letter together and see if they can understand your strong points from the way you present yourself.

8. Ask for feedback
The aim for a mock interview is to give you feedback on what went well and what could be improved. Don’t hesitate to ask for feedback on the spot, or to ask your teacher later to show you your evaluation sheet. Take some time to reflect on how you think it went and then compare your thoughts with the feedback you got. Are you able to identify your strong points or any areas of improvement? And what will you do to improve? Giving good interviews is an important skill; it is something you can learn, practice and improve!

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"Being able to express yourself with clarity is a skill that we keep learning throughout our entire life."