Mock Interview Techniques for Tech Job Searchers

Boost your chance of landing a dream job by learning what a coding mock interview is, how to prepare, where to find questions and how to evaluate yourself. By Lea Marolt Sonnenschein.

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If you want to do your best on a mobile dev job interview, the mock interview is the most important tool in your toolbelt. After all, an interview is an elaborate performance that allows you to showcase yourself and your abilities in the best light possible. And what do great performers do? They practice. Practice, practice and practice.

Even if you have the perfect answer to a question, how you deliver it is what will determine whether you get the job or not. Doing mock interviews to practice not only your knowledge but also how you present yourself, is critical to your future success.

What You’ll Learn

  • What mock interviews are and why they’re important.
  • How to set up a mock interview and which tools to use.
  • How to put together an evaluation rubric for your mocks.
  • Where to find practice questions.
  • How to find potential interviewers.
If you’re hunting for a job as a mobile developer, “Hack Your Job Search: An Authoritative Guide to Landing Your First Dev Interview” offers insider tips and advice you won’t find anywhere else. Check it out for tips on everything from determining the role to apply to creating a strong resume that will get any hiring manager’s attention!

Read Hack Your Job Search Today!

What Is a Mock Interview?

A mock interview is when you simulate a specific interview stage as closely as possible before you go through the real thing. You generally do as many mock interviews as possible before you speak with an actual hiring agent so that you present yourself as well as possible.

Why? As Ash Furrow, Senior Staff Developer @Shopify, elegantly puts it: “Interviewing itself is a skill to learn.” Mock interviews help you learn that skill.

Interviewing itself is a skill to learn -- quote from Ash Furrow @Shopify

Why Mock Interviews Are Important

While the overall benefit of doing mock interviews is to improve your performance, here are some specific advantages they give you:

1. See Yourself From an Outsider’s Perspective

It’s extremely difficult to know how you appear or sound to others. That’s no surprise, since your internal dialogue runs constantly, and your mind jumps to conclusions without fully realizing how it got there. That’s why seeing yourself from an outside perspective is crucial to your success.

Whether you get feedback from an interviewer or record yourself and play it back, the mock interview allows you to focus on how you’re really presenting yourself and understand where you’re succeeding and where you’re falling short. Knowing that lets you practice until you overcome your shortcomings and tailor your interview to your advantage.

2. Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Evaluating your performance in a mock interview is crucial in knowing where you need to improve. When you know what you already do well, you can stop practicing those parts of the interview, and focus instead on the things you’re not so good at. It’s easier to practice what you’re good at because it feels comfortable and you know you can succeed — but really, it’s a waste of your time when preparing for technical interviews.

After each round of mock interviews, note what went well, what didn’t and where you got stuck. Then, set up your next round focusing on the last two categories.

Do you struggle to speak out loud as you’re working through a problem? Don’t know how to ask the interviewer relevant questions to better understand the problem? Or maybe you find it difficult to make small talk. Whatever it is, write it down and address it head on.

Note: For example, suppose you’re amazing at solving algorithmic questions but struggle at explaining your thought process. In your next mock interview, you should focus on improving your skills at talking through your thought process.

3. Calm Your Nerves and Boost Your Confidence

Think about the first time you drove a car. Most likely, you were equal parts excited and nervous, with an elevated heart rate that made the whole experience memorable. Now, think about the last time you drove a car. By now, it’s probably a routine activity you do without giving it too much thought. That’s exactly how you should think about interviewing.

Interviews are stressful, but the more you do them, the less stressful they become. You get used to the setting, the pacing and the back-and-forth dialogue. Slowly, they become familiar. Mock interviews will boost your confidence and mitigate your stress levels. The best way to get rid of your interview nerves is to put yourself under time pressure over and over again.

4. Practice Problem Solving

The point of an interview is to evaluate how you solve problems. It’s likely that you’ve never faced the exact questions you’ll get in your interviews. By doing mock interviews, you help prepare yourself to deal with the unknown.

If you’ve practiced your problem-solving skills enough, when you hear an unfamiliar question in an interview, you won’t freeze and think “I don’t know how to answer this!” Instead, you’ll think “OK, what does this mean, and how can I break it down?”

5. Develop Unique Interview Strategies

The more you practice, the easier it is to see patterns between one interview and the next. By trying out different ways of explaining a concept, telling a story or walking someone through your code, you’ll learn what works. These become your interview strategies, and they’re unique to each individual.

Whenever someone nods excitedly at what you’re saying, shows a lot of interest in a particular story or compliments you on how you’ve handled a situation, write it down! Over time, you’ll build a repository of unique interview strategies that you can rely on any time you need.

How to Do a Mock Interview

There are two ways to do mock interviews: in person or remotely. Pick the scenario that you’re most likely to face in your real interview. Practice in person for in-person interviews, and practice remotely for remote ones.

In-Person Mocks

Do your in-person mock interview in an office with a whiteboard whenever possible. That will best mimic your actual interview. If you don’t have access to an office, buy a whiteboard and practice from home. Most importantly, practice the physical activity of whiteboarding. While it might sound silly, it’s more difficult than it sounds.

Android mascot in front of a whiteboard

Get yourself a whiteboard, stand up and write the solutions out. The financial investment is negligible compared to the financial gain you’ll receive if you do well!