Advice > Coaching

What is a Mock Interview? (benefits, tips, sample questions)

By Kannika Peña on June 19, 2024 How we wrote this article
man and woman on an online mock interview

No matter how amazing your credentials are, your perfect resume can’t guarantee you your dream job. It’s your interviewing skills (or lack thereof) that can make or break your chances of landing the role of a lifetime.

Like all skills, you can only become better at job interviews with practice. But that doesn’t mean you should do hundreds of real job interviews just to get good at them. That’s what mock interviews are for. 

But what exactly is a mock interview?

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about mock interviews, how they work, and how you can maximize them to your benefit.

And rather than giving the generic advice you’ll see in other articles on this topic, we’ve based the information below on real feedback from mock interview users.

Here’s an outline of what we’ll cover:

Let’s dive in.

1. What is a mock interview?

A mock interview is a practice session that aims to mimic the real interview process between the interviewee and the interviewer. 

By doing a mock interview, you can get feedback on how you present yourself during an interview and how you can demonstrate your expertise and suitability for a job.

2. How do mock interviews work?

There are two ways to do mock interviews: practice for free with friends or industry peers, and book a paid session with an expert.

Unpaid mock interviews are helpful, especially for building confidence. 

But for best results, you should combine these free sessions with mocks with an expert in your field, who can give you better and more constructive feedback. 

Click here to read our list of best mock interview sites.

3. Why do people do mock interviews?

People turn to mock interviews when they need interviewing practice and feedback from an expert in their field. 

Some of them do this in anticipation of job applications, whether it’s their first or first in a while. Others go on mock interviews in preparation for interviews already lined up with specific companies.

We’ve analyzed data from hundreds of customers to give you some examples of why people seek mock interviews (quotes are from our users):

3.1 To gain confidence 

Practicing on your own has its merits, but it’s not enough. That’s why candidates do mock interviews: to practice in a setting that feels close to the real thing. 

When you become comfortable with the interview atmosphere, you will feel more at ease and confident during your actual interviews. 

3.2 To identify weaker areas

Many candidates who have interviews lined up book mock interviews to have experts identify where they need to improve and how. It could be about their speaking or nonverbal communication skills, how they frame their answers, or how they can best demonstrate their expertise during technical interviews.

Others who have received feedback from previous applications will book a mock interview to address these weaknesses. For example, Clay is currently in the screening process as he applies for a mid-level software engineer position. Booking a session, he says:

“The feedback I've gotten was around my responses not being succinct enough and kind of rambling. I also have gotten feedback around my depth of knowledge for system design.”

3.3 To practice performing under pressure

Job interviews are high-pressure situations no matter how knowledgeable you are in your field. You’ll likely encounter tricky questions, or your nerves can simply get in the way.

With mock interviews, you can develop an action plan to help you perform under pressure. With constant practice and feedback, you’ll become more adept at handling unpredictable questions, listening and asking clarifying questions, and showcasing your problem-solving skills.

3.4 To learn and develop interview strategies

Some candidates already have established interviewing strategies that may have worked for them in the past. They book mock interviews to improve the way they prep and do interviews, building new habits and strategies.

Melissa, currently prepping for a Product Owner interview loop, said that in the past she used to memorize answers for every question she could think of her interviewers asking. 

“I'd like to focus on crafting a handful of powerful stories that can fit various questions and adapting to unexpected questions.”

3.5 To avoid rustiness

For people who’ve not interviewed in a while, doing mock interviews is a helpful part of the process. While they had success before, chances are, their interviewing skills may have gotten rusty.

Chloe has been working as a PM for 6 years but is now applying for a different company, so she booked a mock interview to refresh her interviewing skills.

“I could use help in constructing my answers to be more concise and structured as I haven’t interviewed in 6 years now since joining Meta.”

3.6 To understand what's required for their target position

Some candidates in the early stage of applying for positions want to know the baseline measures for the post they’re interviewing for. They do mock interviews to get a sense of how they can stand out, based on the interview criteria of the company they’re targeting and their expert interviewer’s insight.

Nodira is interviewing for a staff software engineer level and knows he needs help with his behavioral interview. But moreover:

“I also want to understand what is expected of a good interview for E6 at Meta.”

3.7 To practice using interview tools

Mock tech interviews are a perfect space to practice using drawing tools for system design interviews or code collaborator tools in coding interviews. It’s very important to be accustomed to using these tools in an interview situation by the time you have to do it for real. If you’re just learning the tools on the spot, you’ll get distracted and your performance will suffer.

4. How do I prepare for a mock interview?

Maximize your mock interview session by preparing for it the right way. 

4.1 Know what you want to focus on

If you’ve already got an onsite interview loop lined up, your recruiter will most likely give interview instructions for your next set of interviews. Send these over to your mock interviewer ahead of time so they’ll know what you want to focus on.

If you’ve yet to have an interview, it’s still best to plan in advance what you want to work on in your session. Do you want to work on keeping your answers concise? Do you want to work on a specific framework for answering behavioral questions? 

Refer to previous feedback and reflect on what you need help with, so you can have a more focused and productive session.

4.2 Do your research

Familiarize yourself with your target role and company before doing a mock interview, in particular their culture, products, and other relevant information. You can weave this information into your answers. 

4.3 Choose the right mock interviewer

The right mock interviewer for you depends on your needs. Ideally, it’s someone who’s an expert in your field and has great knowledge of the industry and role you’re targeting. 

If you’re interviewing for a specific company, an industry expert with interview experience in that company will be your best choice. 

If you’re in the midst of a career transition, an expert coach who had a similar career trajectory can help you frame your answers properly, highlighting your transferable skills and unique advantage. 

4.4 Have your resume handy

Bring your resume during your interview and share it with the interviewer beforehand. Make sure it’s your current one. Your mock interviewer might reference it during the interview, specifically if you’re practicing behavioral/PEI questions regarding your past professional experience, or even when you’re discussing your technical background.

Your mock interviewer can also give you feedback on how to improve your resume. But if you need more in-depth help with your resume, we suggest you book a separate resume review session.

4.5 Dress comfortably

Most blog posts on this topic will advise you to “dress like it’s the real thing”. While for some reason this seems to be the conventional wisdom on page 1 of Google, it’s not what tends to happen on our platform.

The truth is, mock interviews aren’t the real thing, so it really doesn’t matter at all what you wear. Your coach doesn’t care, as they’re there to give you feedback on your interviewing skills and not your fashion choices. So don’t worry about your attire just yet and come dressed in what’s comfortable for you.

4.6 Prep your tech and surroundings (for virtual interviews)

Just as you would for a real virtual interview, make sure your gear is working, that you have a stable internet connection, and that you’re in a distraction-free environment. This will help you maximize your one hour with your mock interview coach.

4.7 Practice on your own

Before your mock session, conduct a self-interview out loud. Act as both the interviewer, asking questions, and the candidate, providing answers. This method may feel odd initially, but it's proven to be effective.

4.8 Ask if you can record the mock interview

Recording your mock interview allows you to review your session. This will help you gain perspective on how you present yourself in an interview setting. 

Also, if some of the comments of your mock interviewer don’t make sense, you might understand them better afterward, when you’re a bit removed from the situation.

Remember to ask for permission first, just as a form of courtesy.

5. What are some good questions for a mock interview?

When doing mock interview sessions with a friend or a peer, give your session better focus and come prepared with a few questions.

Below we’ve compiled a list of real example questions from top companies, as reported on Glassdoor. We’ve also included guides, frameworks, and solutions for each item.

5.1 Mock interview questions for any role/industry

Check out our list of the 16 most-asked behavioral interview questions in tech for even more questions. 

Book a behavioral mock interview when you’re ready to practice with an expert.

5.2 Mock interview questions for software engineers

For SWE interviews, expect coding and system design questions during your interview loop to test your technical skills, as well as some behavioral questions.

Check out our FAANG interview question guide to get even more SWE example questions. Book a mock interview with a software engineer interview coach to practice with an expert.

5.3 Mock interview questions for engineering managers

Aside from testing your technical know-how, your EM interview will include questions regarding your people management and project management skills. 

Check out our general EM interview guide to get more questions to practice. Book a mock interview session with an Engineering Manager coach.

5.4 Mock interview questions for product managers

Expect a broad range of question types during your PM interview: product design, product strategy, analysis/metrics, prioritization, behavioral, and, depending on the company, estimation.

Check out our product manager interview guide to explore more practice questions. Click here to book a mock interview session with a PM coach.

5.5 Mock interview questions for consultants

One of the best ways to prepare for consulting interviews is by studying case interview examples. You should also study fit/PEI questions, which will be interspersed throughout your case interview.

Check out our full guide on case interview prep for more case interview and fit/PEI example questions. Put your review into practice and book a mock interview session with a consulting expert.

6. Mock interview videos to watch as part of your interview prep

Aside from participating in mock interviews, you can watch mock interview sessions online as part of your interview prep. It’s a great way to expand your learning and may cover topics and insights that you have yet to cover in your own mock sessions.

Here are some mock interview sessions you can watch on IGotAnOffer’s different YouTube channels (Engineering, Product Management, and Consulting) and other channels:

Engineering 

Product Management

Consulting

7. Where is the best place to do mock interviews?

You’ll find an abundance of mock interview sites available online, offering both in-person and remote sessions. But be warned, not all mock interview services are equal and there is a fair bit of bad services out there, so it’s worth doing some research. 

If you haven’t got the time to dive deep, we’ve done some of the research for you. Click here to read our list of the best mock interview websites in 2024.

If you need to schedule a mock interview ASAP, you can always rely on IGotAnOffer’s mock interview service. Connect with skilled interviewers from Google, Meta, and many other companies. Schedule your session with them on IGotAnOffer.

 

 

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