For even the best-prepared students, interviews can be stressful and, sadly, fruitless. Before your interview season ends, do a series (one is not enough) of mock interviews with both friends and strangers.
What can be polished, should be polished. You have no time to waste.
Why do mock interviews?
Interviewing is a skill that you develop in the same way that you learn to play an instrument or a sport, or to perform in dance or theater — with practice. Unless you regularly interview — four or five times a week, year in and year out — you are out of practice.
If you have never interviewed for a serious full-time job, you cannot begin to practice too soon. Your “real” interviews with prospective employers are not the same as practice interviews. Why waste your time and the interviewer’s time, perhaps making a foolish blunder that will be remembered?
“20-minute screening interview never worked for me.”
If you have often interviewed and never been hired, you need interview training right now. After having multiple interviews, dropping in to your career office in late October to say “The 20-minute screening interview has never worked for me,” will bring tears to the eyes of your counselor, and will not move your job search forward.
Why do mock interviews with friends and strangers?
Unless you are being mock interviewed by a trained coach or very experienced interviewer, you will get bits and pieces of critique from each session. Unless you demand that they be critical and honest, your friends may want to be kind. Kindness in this situation is too cruel.
In stranger-mock-interview sessions, usually arranged by law schools or bar associations, the interviewers’ skills can be all over the map. If you are pleasant and have no obvious quirks or weird behaviors, people will smile and say “attaboy” or “go girl.” They may not push you to give answers in complete sentences or to stop saying “um” and “I was like.” While they may remind you to sit up straight and have a strong handshake, you may not be called on if your answers are unresponsive or are so broad and general as to be useless.
Candidates with serious interview problems
Untrained but well-meaning volunteer mock interviewers may not be prepared to give intense and serious critique about wildly inappropriate dress, bad grammar, ignorance about the legal profession, poor attitude toward the interview process or other difficult issues that they determine five minutes into a meeting. Knowing that they cannot address really serious interview issues in 20 minutes, they may throw up their hands. The most conscientious will tell a career services counselor that you have “issues.”
Be sure to get feedback from these sessions.
I don’t have time for mock interviews.
If you find your “real” interviews unproductive, you will have all the time in the world to practice.