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Mock Interviews

At York College of Pennsylvania (where I teach), every education major is required to take EDU470: Professional Development. The course is taken the semester prior to student teaching. One of the requirements of that course is that students must participate in a mock interview. We schedule several evenings at one or more of the local schools and invite 20—25 area administrators to join the students in a sit- down dinner and series of mock interviews. Each student is randomly assigned to a principal or assistant principal and must go through a mock interview in exactly the same way as he or she would a real interview. Each student is then evaluated by the interviewer and provided with a list of good points and areas for improvement.

Your college or university might not provide mock interviews as a part of the education program. But that doesn't mean that you can't take advantage of this unique opportunity to practice in a simulated interview situation. Form a support group of other students, and set up a series of mock interviews in which you all get a chance to interview each other. Ask one or more of your education professors if they would be willing to conduct some mock interviews. Invite a local administrator to campus and have him or her conduct some mock interviews for two or three students. Perhaps there is a business person in town, a friend or relative, or someone in the college's career counseling center who would be willing to conduct some mock interviews.


"It has been our experience, over the years, that only about 20 percent of all candidates rehearsed their interviews ahead of time."

This may seem like a lot of work; but it can pay off in spades. By going through one or more mock interviews, you will become more comfortable with the entire interview process. You may discover some hidden "quirks" or behaviors that you were previously unaware of (twisting a curl of hair while talking, folding your arms across your chest, or crossing and uncrossing your legs constantly). By becoming aware of these tics ahead of time you can take steps to "cure" yourself of them in advance of a real interview.

If possible, videotape your mock interview. Then you'll have a visual record of how you did. You'll be able to see yourself as others see you and make any necessary "corrections." Your confidence level will improve, your use of body language can be altered, your speech and language can be changed, and your responses to questions can be shortened or lengthened as necessary.

In any mock interview, be sure to simulate actual interview conditions as much as possible. Dress the part, and answer the questions as you would in a real live interview. This is not the time to "fake it." This is the time to discover what you might need to improve in order to assure yourself of a positive interview experience.

Whoever does the mock interview with you, ask him or her to evaluate your performance. You might want to create a self-designed rubric using the ideas and suggestions in this book. You might want to ask a third party to observe the mock interview and provide feedback afterwards. Or you may want to show a videotape to one of your education professors and ask him or her to provide an evaluation as well as suggestions for improvement.

Getting ready for an interview may be just as important as the interview itself. Take the time to practice, prepare, and practice again, and you will give yourself a decided advantage over other potential candidates. The amount of work and effort you devote to the interview before it occurs frequently reaps incredible benefits after the interview is over.

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