Interviews make or break our careers. Whether it’s making the cut for a competitive graduate program, landing your first internship, or getting the job of your dreams, almost every opportunity hinges on that strange form of conversation we call an interview. And there are no do-overs here–if you don’t manage to make a great impression, you’re unlikely to get another chance.
If that makes you feel a little nauseated, fear not! With some hard work and practice, you can master the art of the interview. The strange thing is, most people never get any training on how to interview well and never do any real practice. We don’t learn about interviewing at school or at home. It doesn’t have to be this way! Below are five reasons everybody should do a mock interview.
1. Interviewing is a skill. Could you have written a research paper the first time you picked up a crayon? Of course not! We spend decades cultivating many important skills, but plenty of people don’t spend even an hour learning how to succeed in an interview. For a skill that’s sure to make such a big difference in your professional life, this makes no sense at all. Take some time to learn the skill of interviewing. All it takes is time, persistence, and a little bit of help.
2. You’re stuck in your own chair. It’s a simple fact of interviewing that you’re going to find yourself sitting in front of someone you want to impress. Whether the interview is in person or via video chat, the dynamic is basically the same. Are you so nervous you forget to make eye contact or smile? Are you fidgeting constantly or playing with your hair? These kinds of little things will play a big role in how the interviewer perceives you. And without some feedback, you won’t even know!
3. You probably have no idea what makes you special. When I’m doing mock interviews, I’ll often ask students to pause and tell me “off the record” why they really want the job. Almost invariably, once the pressure is off, my clients will deliver beautiful statements about their dreams and passions and suddenly reveal essential pieces of the puzzle they hadn’t even mentioned before. We’re so close to our own experience, we often have no idea that most other candidates didn’t do the same volunteer project, develop a certain skill set, or have a particular life experience that makes us uniquely qualified for a program or job. An outside perspective can help you identify the things that really make you stand out as a candidate.
4. You’re not the first person to go through this. Here at UNM Career Services, we work with thousands of students across all fields and disciplines. We’ve met with employers, recruiters, and graduate program directors from all over the state and the country. We can often clue you in to what recruiters are really looking for and common mistakes others have made. Why not benefit from the all that accumulated knowledge and experience?
5. Interviewing is awkward. Let’s face it: interviewing is uncomfortable, stressful, awkward, and sometimes just plain weird. It can feel really contrived and even arbitrary. Finding yourself in formal wear in a strange office having to seriously answer questions like, “If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?” is enough to make one marvel at the absurdity of the universe. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. With a little practice, you’ll be able to present yourself with confidence and professionalism–no matter how awkward things get.
For better or worse, we all have to through professional interviews, and our goals and dreams hang in the balance. Do yourself a favor and call Career Services to schedule a mock interview today!
Shalom Leo Bond
Career Development Facilitator
UNM Career Services