How Many Questions Should a Mock Interview Have?

A mock interview can have any number of questions.  Ideally, the mock interview will have a similar number of questions as the real interview the job seeker is preparing for.  The more a job seeker can practice the same experience they will encounter in a real interview the better they will perform.

To learn the structure of an interview, job seekers need to network.  Most consider networking as an activity where the job seeker asks a lot people for help getting a job.  The real benefit of networking is the information you gain on the hiring process within a company.  Research a company thoroughly and try to find out as much about the interviews.  The more information you gain, the better you can prepare.  If you cannot learn how the company interviews, there are a few common interview structures that are more likely to be encountered.

Some companies use a standard interview format with a fixed number of questions.  These will often have 8 to 10 questions.  If this is the type of interview the job seeker expects, the mock interview should mirror this.  Most candidates will give answers that are 2 to 5 minutes long.  This will yield a 30 to 45 minute interview most of the time.  There are candidates who will give very short answers, and the interview can end in less than ten minutes, and others who struggle with being concise that last more than an hour.  The very short and very long answers will hurt the impression a candidate makes.

Other companies use flexible interview formats where the questions are not pre-scripted.  These interviews can last anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours.  This style of interview often has a lot of follow up questions.  There may only be a few topics discussed, but they are discussed in great deal.  If this is the type of interview expected, the mock interview should reflect this.  Choose a handful of question topics and prepare ideas for follow up questions.

A good follow up question will relate directly to the candidate’s answer.  You should prepare follow up topics, but the actual questions should be spontaneous and based on the job seeker’s previous answer.  With this type of interview, three or four questions may be sufficient, with each question having a number of follow up questions.  Although this type of interview may only require a few questions, it is still a good idea to prepare at least 6 to 8 questions.  There are times when a question that seems very complex will have a short, straightforward answer.  If the interview only has a few questions, a question with an unexpectedly short answer can cut an interview short.  Having secondary questions to add to the interview is a good tactic.

The one question that is always a good idea to include in a mock interview is the common “Tell me about yourself” question that kicks off so many interviews.  This is the most common question seen in interviews, but there is another important reason why it should be practiced.  This question provides the job seeker with an opportunity to highlight the best features of the job seeker.  It can become a sales pitch.  To do this, the job seeker should approach the question as “why should I hire you?”  This approach will lead to a broad answer that describes the job seeker within the context of the interviewer’s goal – determining if the job seeker is the best person to hire.