There is No Such Thing as a “Practice” Interview

Practice interview

I have coached people on interview skills for almost 20 years and know that everyone is nervous for one reason or another. When I landed an interview with Robert Half, where I was eventually hired as a recruiter, it was the first I’d had in 17 years. I was super nervous! Some other reasons to be nervous are: 

  • You don’t know how to “sell” yourself. 
  • You’ve had some interviews that went poorly and did not move to a job offer. 
  • You have some difficult issues to discuss, like getting fired from your last job or a gap in employment. 

WHAT IS WRONG WITH HAVING A PRACTICE INTERVIEW? 

This can seem like a good idea. If you’ve never cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner, you’d gain confidence if you made a separate dish each night for practice? So, it makes sense to line up some job interviews for practice that you don’t care about, right?

There are reasons why practice interviewers are problematic:

  • If you don’t want the job, that will come across to an experienced interviewer. It is hard to fake enthusiasm. 
  • Most importantly, you are setting yourself up to get your feelings hurt and lose confidence in yourself if you didn’t get the job. For example, you would never make a practice marriage proposal! 

What are your other options? 

INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW 

This is an interview where you are not trying to get a job, only information. I had a client who wanted to become a career coach. She asked for an appointment, and we talked for a ½ hour on topics such as how to get proper training. I work independently, so I truly had no job for her. 

PRACTICE WITH A FRIEND OR A COLLEAGUE 

You can partner with someone who will be candid with you to discuss topics that make you nervous. Try strategizing and role-playing with someone who can be objective and supportive about your concerns. 

HIRE AN INTERVIEW COACH! 

A coach cannot promise that you will get a job, but their understanding of the interview process will allow them to give you guidance. Then you can head into your next interview with confidence!