Every other Tuesday, you’ll get actionable tips to land your dream job. Subscribe

Mock Interview Tips: How to Organize One & Why It Matters

Learn why conducting a mock interview is an irreplaceable step in your interview preparation. Get tips on how to do it like a pro and crush your next interview.
Mock Interview Tips: How to Organize One & Why It Matters

Mock interviews are the most effective and thorough way to prepare for a job interview. They simulate the real experience, allow you to practice your interviewing skills in a controlled environment, and provide actionable feedback for improvement.

But have you ever tried to do a mock interview yourself or with friends?

If you have, you probably know it’s easy to get sidetracked by role-playing, laughing, and creating exaggerated responses.

Luckily, we’ll help you avoid this and organize a productive mock interview that will help you rock the real one.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • Why you should always do a mock interview
  • How to select the right career coach and organize a mock interview with them
  • How to do a mock interview by yourself or with friends or family (and what to be aware of!)
  • What to research and practice for mock interviews
Big Interview: the best interview preparation tool

Don’t waste days compiling overused interview techniques. Get original answers to every single question you could expect.

The Benefits of Mock Interviews

In summary: Mock interviews are a necessary step in your job interview preparation because they simulate the real experience, prepare you for the most common interview questions, help you master your non-verbal communication, and help you improve over time because of the feedback you receive.

They simulate the real deal

You wouldn’t show up to the SAT without having practiced, would you? Usually, you do at least one pre-test to understand what subjects you’ll be tested on, the format of the questions, and how much time you’ll need to complete it.

Well, the same goes for job interviews. You don’t want to show up without doing mock interviews beforehand. Not to be dramatic, but your future job depends on it.

Mock interviews are awesome because they can be the same as real job interviews – without the pressure and high stakes of speaking to a real interviewer.

This means you have the chance to go through the entire process and learn its structure, from greetings, ice-breaking conversations, answering questions, asking questions, and closing remarks.

When the time comes for a real deal, you won’t feel like you’re going through uncharted territory. Everything will feel familiar, you’ll know what to expect and how to behave, and this will decrease the pressure and your anxiety dramatically.

They help you improve over time

Depending on the type of mock interview, you’ll get some kind of feedback.

This is useful because you often can’t judge yourself properly, especially when you’re nervous. Having someone tell you that you’re shaking your leg, avoiding eye contact, or stuttering will help you catch those behaviors next time and prevent them from happening.

Plus, you’ll know how to answer common questions, what to do when you slip up, and how to appear confident and professional.

They prepare you for the most common interview questions

There are certain types of interview questions you’re going to hear in almost every interview:

You’ll rock all those with preparation and repetitive practice.

Instead of making mental notes or writing down your key points, organize a mock interview and actually use those notes in practice.

You’ll structure your responses and try them out a few times. Based on the feedback you get, you’ll adjust your answers. Once you get the real question, you’ll have the best version of your answer ready, along with a perfect delivery.

They help you master non-verbal communication

You’d be surprised about how important non-verbal communication is, yet how little we’re aware of it. In an infamous 1971 paper by Albert Mehrabian, he suggested that spoken words make up only 7% of what we communicate. Today, there are still studies being published (like this or this) that support this and even suggest that nonverbal communication is more important than words.

It’s more than likely that interviewers will inspect your body language and non-verbal cues, so you must keep them in check.

Having a mock interview (with a friend, a mentor, AI, or practicing by yourself and recording) will help you quickly catch all the details like posture, arm positioning and hand movement, eye contact, and nervous habits like picking your nails, clicking a pen, or adjusting your clothes.

With enough practice, you’ll be able to eliminate errors like that over time.

Plus, this goes above job search and interviewing — learning to be aware of your non-verbal communication and body language is a life skill that will come in handy in pretty much any tricky situation.

Learn about common body language mistakes and how to avoid them:

They help you prepare technologically

This is especially important if you’re practicing for an online interview. Mock interviews will help you prepare all the details you probably wouldn’t remember otherwise.

Think camera angles, sound checks, and neutral backgrounds that will make you more at ease about this “technical” part of the interview.

How to Organize a Mock Interview with a Career Coach

In summary: You can organize a mock interview with a career coach, in which case you’ll have to select the right one based on their experience and your goals. When working with a coach, customize your mock interview to fit different parameters like your desired company and the industry it operates in, the nature of the role, and your strengths and weaknesses. Set clear goals and expectations from the mock interview and the coach so that they’ll know what to focus on during your sessions. Gather their feedback and tips for improvement.

If you can afford it, having a mock interview with a seasoned career coach will get you personalized guidance, expert tips, and constructive feedback from someone who knows exactly what to look for in your performance.

Here’s how to organize it.

Select the right coach

Make sure this is someone with enough relevant experience who you’ll feel comfortable around.

Depending on your situation (high-stakes interview, industry change, position change, regular interview) and your goals, focus on a coach’s industry expertise, coaching credentials, and past client success.

If you have the right person, the process is much smoother and more productive.

Pro tip: You can usually go to a free initial consultation to meet the coach and get a feel of their vibe and if you’d be suitable to work together. And as far as the pricing goes, think about the return on investment. If a coach is seriously expensive, it means they’re probably great. It could be useful if you’re an experienced person looking to move up the ladder. But, depending on your industry, it might not be worth it if you’re a fresh grad looking for your first job.

Customize your mock interview

Together with your coach, you will work to customize your mock interview.

You can take into account a series of factors here, like:

  • The interview process and style of the target company
  • The nature of the role
  • The industry
  • Your expertise
  • Your goals
  • Your strengths and weaknesses

Depending on this, work together to set up an interview structure, including potential unique question formats and how to ask good questions about company culture.

This will also point the coach towards key elements to track in your performance, and you’ll end up with tailored, actionable feedback.

Set clear goals and expectations for the session

Set clear goals and expectations, especially if you only have one mock interview with a career coach. That way, you’re using your time together in the most productive way and getting your money’s worth.

Before the session, think about the key outcomes and what you want to achieve.

These can be shorter response time, using more professional vocabulary, handling stress efficiently, nailing down a STAR answer technique, and anything else you want to focus on.

Before you start practicing, bring up these points to the coach so that they know what to focus on to help you achieve your goals.

Review and reflect on your performance

After the mock interview, you’ll get a feedback session where your coach will talk about your weak points and strengths.

To make the most of it, you can ask them to grade different elements of your performance, like your pace of speech and vocabulary, nervous habits, body language, eye contact, the quality of answers, and the delivery of answers.

Create a list of everything you’d like to get feedback on and make sure it’s available to the coach.

Experienced career coaches will often spot things you’d never think of, so don’t be surprised if you get feedback about things that never crossed your mind. This is the main advantage of working with a career/interview coach.

Our founder and chief career coach, Pamela Skillings, has helped thousands of candidates land their dream jobs, regardless of their situation, experience, and goals. If you need an approach tailored to your specific needs, book a session with her.

How to Organize DIY Mock Interviews

In summary: If you’re doing the mock interview without a coach, you can do it on your own or with someone you trust. In case you’re practicing on your own, make sure to record yourself and write down notes from each recording so that you can use them to improve your performance. If you’re practicing with someone, make sure they can stay serious and professional and can simulate the real experience by asking insightful questions. Tell them your goals so that they can help you and provide valuable feedback. You can also use online resources and mock interview tools that will help you learn how to prepare for an interview, answer common questions, and provide you with objective AI feedback.

If you can’t or won’t invest in a coach, you can do mock interviews yourself.

Practice with someone else or alone by recording yourself, sitting in front of a mirror (not super useful and extremely awkward), or using a mock interview tool.

Here’s how to organize a DIY mock interview.

Recruit a helper

If you’re going down this road, pick someone who:

  • Has a neutral perspective and can remain objective throughout the process. Pick someone you know will be brutally honest.
  • Understands interview dynamics and can prepare and ask relevant questions and simulate the atmosphere of a real interview.
  • Has constructive feedback skills, so you can be sure you’re getting a realistic picture of your abilities in a supportive manner.
  • Is able to ask additional questions that dig deeper and prompt thoughtful responses.
  • Has experience interviewing, as they will probably have more insightful feedback for you.

Who you pick will significantly influence the quality of your mock interview. If you choose wisely, you’ll get more effective practice sessions, more chances for improvement, and more space for getting confident.

Find useful information on what to pay attention to when practicing with a friend or a family member here.

Use online resources

There’s a variety of online resources to help you prepare for your interview and mock interview.

You can also turn to forums like Reddit and Quora that offer first-hand experiences and useful tips. But anyone can post there and the posts are not verified by career experts, so be careful.

If you want some expert-vetted advice, we recommend checking our Resources page, where you can find comprehensive guides on job search, resume writing, interview tips, common interview questions, behavioral questions, industry-specific tips and resumes, and negotiation.

Top 5 guides you’ll need:

Record yourself

If you’re doing the mock interview on your own, make sure you record yourself. You can do this with your phone or laptop – the second option is better because it simulates the real interview.

Choose the right angle with a clean, professional background. Dress up as you would for a real interview and once you hit “Record” behave as if you’re in a real interview.

Once you’re done, keep the recording in a separate folder.

When reviewing these videos, pay attention to:

  • The quality of your answer 
    • Did you know what skill each question tried to assess and have you showcased it?
    • Did you use the STAR framework where appropriate?
    • Did you quantify your achievements?
    • Did you focus on lessons learned?
    • Were you positive and optimistic?
    • Were you clear and concise?
  • The quality of your delivery 
    • Did you stutter?
    • Did you display positive body language?
    • Did you mirror the interviewer’s communication style?
    • What was your pace of speech?
    • Did you keep eye contact?
    • Did you use a lot of filler words?

Take notes for each recording. That way you can track progress and improve the quality of your answers.

Use a mock interview tool

Using a mock interview tool is by far the best and most objective option if you’re doing the mock interview by yourself.

Big Interview has an Interview Simulator that will help you work on your answers and get increasingly better at answering interview questions and selling yourself.

It contains learning materials to help you craft each answer before practicing. We also trained it to watch out for key components of a good answer, so you can be sure you’ll get objective, valuable feedback to help you move the needle.

Inside Big Interview's mock interview tool

Pro tip: When using the Interview Simulator, create a professional setting with a well-lit place and a plain background. Make sure your audio and video settings are set up appropriately. Make sure you’re dressed up and behave as if you’re in a real interview, because this will give you a proper sense of what to expect and how to behave. Don’t leave certain things for later, or think you can figure them out on the go.

How to Prepare for a Mock Interview

In summary: Prepare for a mock interview the way you would for a real one. This means researching the company and the role you’re interested in, preparing a list of your STAR stories and practicing the STAR framework for answering questions, practicing common and tough questions, and timing yourself so that you know if you need to adjust the length of your answers.

Now that you organized your mock interview, here’s what to do to nail it. All the things listed here are things you’d naturally do to ace a real interview, more on which you can read here: How to Ace an Interview: 15 Tips from a Career Coach.

PS: Tips in this section are super important for any interview and mock interview, but especially if you have only one shot with a career coach or if you’re on a tight deadline. In these cases, practice and research everything in advance so that you can make the most of your time (and money) in a mock interview with a coach or a mock interview tool. That way, the feedback you’ll get will be meaningful, not only focused on ensuring you got the basics right.

Research the company and role

Act like your mock interview is a real one and research the company and the role.

Start from the website to discover company values, mission, vision, and other details. Use social media to feel their brand personality, and check out platforms like Glassdoor and forums like Reddit and Quora for first-hand employee experiences and reviews. Also, check recent news to know more about the recent events in the company, or recent initiatives and projects it organized.

Then, check out the job description. Find keywords that hint at key skills and experiences the perfect candidate needs to have. Write them down. Think of situations where you displayed those skills and qualities, and think of ways to speak about them during the (mock) interview. It’ll help you present yourself as the perfect fit.

For more tips on what to pay attention to in job ads, see the video:

Prepare your STAR stories

As we just said – prepare a list of key skills needed for the position you’re applying for. Then, for each skill, prepare a story you will tell to prove it.

Even if you don’t find a certain skill in the job description, but you still think it’s important for the role, write it down and think of a relevant example.

For example, if you’re applying for a role in social media and the job ad highlights the importance of writing skills, you can talk about how you collaborated with the Content team and wrote several long-form articles about optimizing LinkedIn accounts that were published on the company blog.

Here’s how to use a proven formula to answer these questions:

Practice common and tough questions

Anticipate standard interview questions as well as the challenging ones specific to the role or industry.

You’ll often hear tough questions like those asking about your failures or weaknesses. Know how to frame your answers so you don’t end up freezing or rambling.

Common questions you’ll hear and guides on how to answer:

Here are 3 common questions and sample answers:

Use realistic timing

Treat the mock as a real one and stick to typical interview timelines.

Keep your answers concise and focused. Typically, you’ll need around 90 seconds per response, unless the question asks you to dive deeper and give it more time.

This is super important because you need to gauge how much time you need to answer typical interview questions. If your answers are drastically shorter than 90 seconds, add more relevant details to paint the full picture. If they’re considerably longer, you’ll need to cut to ensure you have the interviewer’s attention and you’re not overbearing them with unnecessary details.

Mock Interviews: Popular Opinion vs. Expert Advice

Now, let’s see if mock interviews are popular among job seekers on Reddit and Quora.

Merightno said:

There’s no need to pay for a mock interview when the real things are plentiful and free. Just apply to a ton of jobs, you’ll get interviews and you can practice on those.

Career expert comments:

This could work, especially if you have a job and are just casually browsing for new opportunities or want to get better at interviewing. However, if you’re unemployed and dedicated to finding a job ASAP, this approach might not work. First off, there’s a ton of research to be done before each interview, and it makes no sense to lose that time and energy on companies you wouldn’t like working at. Targeted search and interviewing only at companies you’re genuinely interested in is much more efficient and fruitful. Plus, going on an interview just for the sake of practicing might ruin your chances of landing a gig with that company in the future.

Mojojojo3030 said:

Draw up the ten most likely questions. They all use 80-90% versions of the same damn “think of a time you struggled 🤔” questions. Write down an anecdote you can use to answer each one. Then run through them all, WITH A TIMER. Practice until you have answers down to some set amount of time, like three minutes. Even if they give you a different amount of time, you will be more conscious of time now and more efficient with your answers, and they won’t become so long and meandering that you forget them. I had one interview where they gave me the whole list of questions and said I had 40 minutes to answer them all at my own pace, and I finished at 40 on the dot, and said so, and it blew their minds lol. Been working there three years last week.

Career expert comments:

Solid advice. As we already said, having backup stories for all relevant questions and skills they’re trying to assess is key. And if you practice, you’ll know exactly what to say and when to say it – plus you’ll have a sense of how much time you’ll need for answering, as well as how to shorten or lengthen it. It’s a really good trick that will help you be concise and informative during the interview, and interviewers will be impressed.

Summary of the Main Points

  • Mock interviews are the best way to prepare for your upcoming job interview.
  • They simulate the real experience without the pressure of speaking with a real interviewer, which makes it easier to learn and practice.
  • Mock interviews are a great way to get valuable feedback and improve your interviewing skills – but make sure you’re using an appropriate tool or an experienced person for feedback.
  • Prepare for a mock interview as if you would for a real one: dress up, make sure your technical details are on-point in case of an online interview (camera, audio, background), research the company, get ready for common and tricky interview questions, prepare a list of stories using the STAR framework.
  • Keep track of your performance by asking for feedback or recording yourself. Doing this will help you improve your weaknesses.


Need a hand? There are 2 ways we can help you:

  1. Learn how to turn more job interviews into job offers here. (Rated 4.9/5 by 1,000,000 users).
  2. Ditch traditional applications and learn how to find a job using unique strategies here.


Are mock interviews worth it?

Mock interviews are definitely worth it, especially if you don’t have much work and interviewing experience or you’re just entering the workforce. But they’re also crucial in case you have a high-stakes interview coming up, if you’re changing careers, or if you’re aiming for a different, more advanced role. If you’re a seasoned pro who doesn’t get nervous and knows how to answer all interview questions, then you might not need mock interviews – but you’ll still need to prepare and research the company and the role.

What if I feel awkward practicing with a friend?

Try to take an objective stance and don’t think about your personal relationship with your friend. If they agree to play the role of the interviewer, both of you need to stay unbiased and behave as if you’re in a real interview. You can do this by setting up a plan for your mock interview, preparing for everything you need to cover, and giving them a list of elements you’ll need feedback on. Having a plan and a sense of structure will help both of you feel more prepared and comfortable.

How do I know if my mock interview helper is doing a good job?

If they’re doing a good job, they will have constructive feedback and unique points of view to offer you. If they say you were either perfect or completely hopeless, then something is probably wrong. We all have our strong and weak points, and a good helper should be able to objectively spot yours and offer tips on how to improve.

Should I ask my mock interviewer to be particularly tough?

If you want to simulate a challenging interview to better prepare for tough questions or unexpected scenarios, then yes, asking your mock interviewer to be tough can help you. They could work on creating a list of hard questions and coming up with probing questions to deepen the conversation and stir things up a bit. But if you’re looking for a general practice session and you want to get comfortable with common questions and interview etiquette, there’s no need to ask the interviewer to be overly tough.

Do I need to run a mock interview before every real interview?

If you don’t have much experience interviewing, if you’re super nervous, if you’re unfamiliar with an interview format or question, or if you have some important interviews coming up, then yes – having mock interviews before each real one will be beneficial. If you’re a seasoned pro who knows how to answer common questions and who’s not nervous during interviews, then preparing by researching the company and aligning with the role might be enough, and you won’t have to practice through mock interviews. It ultimately boils down to your experience, needs, and goals.

Can I do mock interviews over the phone?

Only if you have a phone interview coming up, in which case our guide will help you: 16 Common Phone Interview Questions & How to Answer. In case you have an in-person or online interview coming up, then a phone mock interview won’t be of much use because your mock interviewer won’t be able to assess your body language and non-verbal communication, and we already talked about how important these elements are.

Maja Stojanovic
A writer specialized in interview preparation and resume building. Spent 5+ years tirelessly seeking a meaningful, rewarding job. Which is exactly what I’ll help you find.
Edited By:
Briana Dilworth
Briana Dilworth
Fact Checked By:
Michael Tomaszewski
Michael Tomaszewski

Turn interviews into offers

Get our Chief Coach’s best job-seeking and interviewing tips in your inbox every other week.

Share this article