Whether it’s a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen, we all need help from time to time, and friends and family are the perfect resource to reach out to for support and help.
However, we often neglect to call upon our loved ones to help us look for a job or for interview preparation. Why? It could be that we’re embarrassed to admit we need help, or we may simply feel it’s too much of a burden. The reality is – friends and family can offer a fresh, honest perspective, and calling upon them could help your job search, interview practice and more.
One area in which they can be especially helpful, is during interview practice. Rather than a mirror with zero opinions or feedback, trust your friends and family to help you in preparing for an interview before the big day. This can help reduce anxiety, nervousness, errors and wrong answers to interview questions. Next time you’re practicing in front of the mirror, pick up the phone and ask your friends to help you learn how to ace an interview.
Finding a friend or family member.
You may think this is the easy part; while, in reality, finding the right friend to help with an interview practice may be harder than it seems. Some friends may be great for parties and fun, but they have no business helping with the interview. Call on that one true friend – you know, the one who gives you their honest opinion and is always willing to help out. True friends aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings with the truth and give blunt opinions.
Pick your friends based on:
Experience. The best help in preparing for an interview comes from friends with management, recruiting, hiring and human resources experience. They have experience selecting candidates and performing interviews.
Honesty. Some friends tell you what you want to hear. This isn’t acceptable during interview practice. Ask professional friends who aren’t afraid to speak their mind and give blunt advice.
Training. Professionals who have undergraduate or graduate level training are more adept in analyzing your responses and giving educated critiques.
Availability. Okay, so you’ve found a friend who is experienced, honest and well trained. But do they have the time to help you? Don’t ask friends who are inundated with projects and deadlines of their own. Remember, they have lives and responsibilities as well. Also stay clear of friends who constantly break appointments or are late for events.
Preparing for the mock interview.
Treat your mock interview like it’s the real thing. This is an exercise to make preparing for an interview a breeze. Take it seriously, and ask your friend to do the same. Do your homework and prepare for the meeting by researching the industry and position. If your friend is willing to go above and beyond, ask them to make a list of questions to ask you during your mock interview or provide them ones based on your research if they don’t have the time. Provide them with a copy of your resume as well.
Unless your friend has extensive experience interviewing candidates, they might consider checking out a few online resources ahead of time. Glassdoor and Monster both offer blogs for job seekers and employers. These articles will help your friend create a more professional setting during the mock interview.
Create a list of items for your friend to critique and watch out for, including the questions you had trouble answering, body language that sent the wrong impression and the length of your answers. Choose your top areas first, and ask them to focus on these topics. But tell them to feel free to make notes about areas they notice. Suggest a few questions for them to keep in the back of their mind, like:
Did the interview subject greet me by last name? (Mr. or Mrs./Ms. Smith)
Were they dressed for the interview? (slacks, dress shirt and tie for men; pants suit or dress for women)
Did their voice tremble during any questions? (coughing, swallowing, etc.)
Did a question make them nervous or hesitant? (Stuttering, long pause, etc.)
Was there any negative body language? (i.e. crossing arms, shifting in chair, covering mouth, etc.)
Conducting the mock interview.
Treat the mock interview the same as you would an actual meeting with the hiring manager. Be serious during your interview practice and don’t laugh at your friend’s “boss voice” or treat it like a casual hangout. Dress interview-appropriate (i.e. slacks, dress shirt and tie for men; pants suit or dress/skirt for women). Don’t show up wearing a T-shirt, sandals or miniskirt to the mock interview. Ask your friend to dress professionally as well to give an authentic feel. It may be helpful to “come in” and greet the “hiring manager” with a handshake and a courteous hello. Don’t address your friend by their first name, and use the appropriate prefix with their name (i.e. Miss, Mrs., Mr. or Dr.).
Practice each section of the interview separately. An easy way to divide the practice interview time is by introduction, past work experience and projects, salary requirements, questions for the interviewer and next step questions. Ask your friend to give a quick critique following each section.
Making the most of your mock interview.
If you want to make the most of your time, record your interview practice. Watching yourself and your body language will help you plan any strategies needed to rectify problem areas. It’s for this exact reason that football coaches record each game to help players identify areas of improvement and strengthen positive areas.
Mock interviews with friends can help prepare you for those oddball questions interviewers love to throw out. There’s no better way to prep for an interview than by conducting a mock interview with a friend – except professional practice. A few practice dates can help prepare for the interview, but professional critiques are gold. Take your recording to your local career center or college, and ask the career counselors to provide feedback, help prepare for questions your friends missed and correct less obvious body language issues. Career counselors have an inside look into company expectations and requirements.
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