The future of the Mock Interview

On Tuesday we published a piece from Mike Britland. In it, he urged you to go beyond the traditional approach to mock interviews and recruitment preparation for students. With more organisations making use of artificial intelligence to shortlist candidates, it is essential that people are exposed to these recruitment practices from an early stage. To learn a little more about how this can work in practice, we sat down with Mike Baker-Munton, Co-Founder and CEO of InterviewBot. Below Mike explores the theory behind providing young people with more interview practice and how technology can play a central role in levelling the playing field.

Interviewing and the world of work seem a million miles away while you are still at school. But they creep up on you quickly enough.

We all know the job market is tough and getting tougher. Even if, allegedly, there are a million vacancies out there in the UK, few people of school age know precisely what job they want to do, or how to get it.

Which is why, according to Kantar research from July 2021, 87% of first time interviewers (who may be school leavers or students, of course) experience some form of anxiety. Specifically, they worry about not making a good impression, not being thought suitable, letting themselves down, and stumbling over answers. First timers are also twice as likely to worry about their appearance, and far more concerned that the interviewer “may try to catch me out”. 30% of first timers were “very anxious or nervous” compared to 18% of candidates who had experienced a job interview before. See Figure 1.

Fig 1 Kantar interview research

It’s fair to say that no amount of practice can eradicate those anxieties completely, or provide anyone with cast-iron confidence. That would be too much to ask. But equally a little practice does go a long way. Candidates can get to say the wrong things in a safe environment and learn to overcome basic errors. They can also picture the interview scene better, and the whole becomes less scary. We know that first or second time candidates are more likely to practise interviews beforehand. Almost 7 in 10 did so, according to Kantar. They also see this form of preparation as useful in building confidence. See Figure 2.

Fig 2 Kantar interview research

That’s what lay behind the development of InterviewBot. It’s a platform for job interview practice, where you record your answers on video, and then review them to see the impression you’ve made. There are 20 categories of interview, including law, civil service, teaching, nursing, a general one and one specifically aimed at school leavers. Questions are asked by avatars – actors whose likenesses have been trained to voice the questions and listen to your answer. In truth the experience is closer to a video interview on Zoom than a face to face one. But that’s how a lot of interviews are conducted these days, to screen candidates and make the whole process efficient for employers.

So just being exposed to questions and having a chance to voice your answers help to make the experience more familiar, and to take away the shock of the new. And we know that progressive interviews definitely lead to better answers. What’s more, subscribers to the system can do unlimited interviews and get their own individual dashboard, which uses AI to track their performance on a dozen metrics, all designed to give them a comparison point with their peers. These metrics range from eye contact, voice modulation, and smiles, to composure, positivity and hesitation speech (ums and ers). A personalised coach walks them through their performance after each interview. See Figure 3.

Fig 3 InterviewBot coaching dashboard

We believe InterviewBot may meet criteria within multiple Gatsby benchmarks.

It is our hope that all prospective school leavers will sign up to do a free interview (10 minutes or max 20 questions in any subject) and try their luck with the avatars. At some level, hearing the questions in the industry-specific fields can go some way to helping students decide whether that field might be for them. Perhaps too, careers leaders may see enough value in the resource to sign up the school and offer it to all their students to practise to their hearts’ content.

InterviewBot is one of several commercial solutions out there. But even without it, just plain old practice with a mirror, friend, auntie or of course careers professional, will move every candidate forwards, gradually reducing anxiety and building the all-important confidence. All recruiters seem unanimous in liking confidence.

Visit InterviewBot.com to register or learn more about you can make use of the service in your school, college, university or at home.

*TF Careers Network received no payment for this piece – we continue to offer all information and our services completely free from charge.

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