In a job interview, making a good impression on your prospective ethical employer is the clear goal. But how do you know what sort of impression you’re making?
The answer is simple – although perhaps a little uncomfortable for some: record a mock interview with yourself.
Why? Seeing yourself on camera can give you a strong sense of how you perform in the eyes of others. It can help you identify the areas you need to work on – and that could give you all the info you need to nail your next interview.
You don’t even need to recruit a family member or friend to act as the interviewer – although that might make it a bit less stressful. You can play both roles, or pre-record your questions to play back during your mock interview.
And all you need to do to get started is a video camera – the one in your mobile phone should do the trick.
Ready to start interviewing yourself? Here’s four steps to do it right, according to UK-based career coach Michael Higgins:
1. Select and plan out your questions
‘Tell me about yourself’ is a common first interview question that you’re pretty much guaranteed to be asked – which makes it a great place to start.
Following on from that, compile a list of common interview questions as well as ones specific to the job for which you’re interviewing – use the ‘key selection criteria’ in the position description to guide you on this.
For example, if the position description lists ‘excellent verbal communication skills’ as an essential requirement, that could then form a question like, ‘Tell me about a time you had to use your verbal communication skills to solve a problem at work.’
Finally, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ is a great question to finish on – just make sure you have at least a handful of questions prepared in response!
2. Record your questions
If you have a friend of colleague who can help you, it can be great to have a real, live person to stand in as your interviewer.
If not, have a go at pre-recording the questions and then playing them back, one at a time. While you can easily just ask yourself the interview questions as you go, pre-recording them can make the experience of answering the questions a lot more like a real interview.
Using a voice-recording app on your phone or computer, record yourself asking the questions you’ve written. Make sure you space them out by at least a few seconds to make pausing during your interview a little easier.
3. Record your answers
Now it’s time for the interview. To make it feel like a real interview, you should actually dress like you would for a job interview. You’d be surprised at the difference this can make!
Place your camera or phone on a tripod – or on a piece of furniture – and focus on the seat on which you’re sitting for the interview. If you used your phone to record your questions, you may need to find another device to tape your interview.
One by one, play the questions you recorded in the previous step and answer them in between.
Imagine the camera is the face of your interviewer – direct your answers towards it and try to make as much eye contact as you would in the interview. It can be helpful to actually tape a photo of a real person to the camera so it feels as real as possible.
And don’t forget to be natural, confident and concise in your responses.
Use the STAR acronym to demonstrate real-world examples of your competency – usually in response to questions along the lines of, ‘Tell me about a time you …’. Here’s a (completely made-up) example:
- Situation: describe the problem you encountered
For example, you received a complaint from a client who was unhappy with the service they’d received.
- Task: what was your role in this scenario?
You were the disability support worker who had worked with the client in the past.
- Activity: how did you solve the problem?
You apologised to the client and then shared the complaint with your manager to consider whether you could have done anything differently and to avoid a repeat of the situation.
- Result: how did the situation turn out?
The client was happy with your apology and continues to use your organisation’s services. Your manager passed the complaint on and your organisation ended up changing its policies to prevent the same mistake in future.
4. Review your performance
Wait at least ten minutes after your mock interview before looking back at your footage.
When you do, pause between your answers to take notes. For each one, consider questions like:
- Did you answer the question fully?
- Did you sound convincing or unsure of yourself?
- Was your answer too long or too short?
- What would you change about your answer, if anything?
- Did you repeat certain words – such as ‘like’ or ‘um’ – excessively?
- Did you rush your answer, or pause too frequently?
- Were you fidgeting or slouching?
- Were you maintaining eye contact with the camera, or looking at the floor?
- Were you confident and smiling whenever was appropriate, or did you look nervous or worried?
Next, review the footage again – this time without pausing. Rate your performance overall out of ten, and then consider the top three things you’d change.
And if you want to hone your interviewing skills even further, try going through the entire mock interview process a second time!
Giving you a sense of where your strengths lie and which areas might need improving, a mock interview can be an excellent tool in your job-seeking arsenal. After all, practice makes perfect – particularly when it comes to job interviews.