I still remember my first interview: I was ill-prepared and ill at ease. I did not get the job. I have become more comfortable and competent with interviewing over the years and believe that there are two keys to interviewing: preparation and practice. Most interviewers remember the first, but neglect the second—to their detriment. While interview preparation can be done on your own, interview practice is a team sport. If you are preparing for an important interview (and what interview isn’t important?), enlist a couple friends to run a mock interview and then discuss your performance. Select trusted colleagues that you feel comfortable with and, ideally, who have knowledge of the field in which you’re interviewing.
1. Provide your interviewers with an interview packet. Your associates are already doing you a favor by participating in a mock interview. Be respectful by doing the leg work for them and making your expectations clear. Give your interviewers the job description and information about the organization. Ask them to prepare questions. In deference to their time, it does not have to be a long interview. Suggest that they prepare around half a dozen questions and review your résumé.
2. Go through the motions. This is a chance to do a dry run on the conversations that are at the heart of the interview, but also all the ancillary elements. Make it a dress rehearsal. Wear your suit, engage in small talk, and ask your follow-up questions, just like you would at a real interview. If you are going to forget your résumé, it is much better to do so in a practice interview. Becoming proficient in the small facets of an interview is part of being a strong candidate.
3. Discuss your performance. After the interview is over, ask your colleagues to honestly evaluate how you did. Make it clear that you are looking for areas to grow. Getting their feedback is key if you want to amplify your strengths and shore up your weaknesses.