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Talent - Remote Work - Tue Aug 3 2021

Why role-play and mock interviews are important before a job interview with a US company?

Well done! You’ve made it past the initial screening call and you’ve been called back for an interview. Like most people, you’re feeling a mix of excitement and nerves and you’re wondering how to prepare to give yourself the best possible chance of getting the job. 

Have you tried role play and mock interviews? These interview preparation techniques simulate a real job interview. They are designed to familiarize you with the interview process and provide you with the opportunity to practice your interviewing skills, in a safe and comfortable environment. 

Practice job interviews can be done with a professional career counselor, a mentor or an experienced, English-speaking friend, colleague or family member. If you don’t know anyone who can help, you can get around this by running your own mock video interview. Simply record yourself asking the questions to act as a virtual interviewer. Then, set up a camera and play the questions back to you. Answer them to the camera, as if it were a real interview. You can then watch the footage back and review your performance. 

Alternatively, there are a number of online programs specially designed to prepare you for industry and role-specific interview questions. Coding practice sites, such as HackerRank, LeetCode and Coderbyte, offer useful interview preparation kits and mock interview features.


Software developer reading his notes before a remote job interview

But, why are mock interviews and role play such an important pre-interview step? And how can it help me?

  • Confidence Booster. Practice makes perfect. The more interview practice you have, the more prepared you will be. Familiarizing yourself with the interview process and the types of questions you are likely to be asked will make you less likely to be caught off guard and will boost your confidence.
     
  • Reduce Stress and Anxiety. Simulating the interview through role play can help you reduce stress and anxiety. This is because you will know what to expect and you will have already answered the interview questions (or similar ones) before. Develop techniques to manage those interview nerves and get them under control, ready for the real deal. For example, you may try deep breathing exercises, visualizing your success, or repeating positive, confidence-boosting mantras.
  • Constructive Feedback. Set up a mock interview with an English-speaking mentor or peer in a similar job role who will give you unbiased feedback on your performance. Ask them to not only pay attention to the content of your answers, but also your body language, the speed and clarity of your speech and general professional etiquette. Constructive feedback will give you the opportunity to adapt your responses and interview behavior, if needed.
  • Master Non-Verbal Communication. Role play scenarios are a great way to practice good eye contact, positive body language and a general confident and enthusiastic attitude. Non-verbal communication is even more important when you are speaking in a language that’s not your mother tongue!

  • Ready for all types of interview questions. Mock interviews should be comprehensive to prepare you for every type of interview question, from behavioral, to technical, to culture fit. Practice, practice, practice and soon there won’t be any question you won’t have heard before!

  • Get your English up to speed. Unless you already use English on a daily basis, it’s likely your language skills are a bit rusty. Mock interview practice in English will refresh your memory and bring you up to speed for the interview. 

Software developer practing his coding skills

Interview Tips for Non-Native English Speakers

When interviewing for a US company, never underestimate the importance of a good-level of spoken English. Yes, that’s right, technical abilities are not the only skills that matter in the tech world! Communication skills are just as valuable and necessary for software developers or UX designers, as with any other role. And, you’re likely to find good communication a challenge if you don’t speak the language well enough! 

Overcome language hurdles by preparing for the job interview in English, from the start. Make sure you are familiar with industry language, as well as general conversational English. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local accent and swat up on American colloquialisms too. Watch videos on YouTube, listen to industry podcasts or start an American series on Netflix to tune your ear into the interviewer’s pronunciation. See if there are any language exchange meet-ups in your city to practice speaking and listening to natives. Real life conversations will help you build your confidence and prepare you for small-talk or any general conversation topics that could come up.

Expressing yourself accurately in a language that is not your mother tongue can be a difficult feat. However, speak with confidence and to the best of your ability and your efforts will show the interviewer that nothing can deter your drive to achieve your professional aspirations. After all, the interviewer is more interested in hearing about your skills and achievements than minor grammatical errors. Avoid memorizing your answers as this can sound unnatural and you may forget them if you are feeling nervous!

Role play scenarios whereby you don’t understand a question or you find yourself struggling to answer. By planning ahead for those panic-stricken moments, you can avoid awkward silences and gain control over the situation. If your mind goes blank, ask the interviewer to repeat or reword the question. This will put the focus back on the interview and give you time to gather your thoughts. 

Bonus tip: If, when doing mock interview practice, you discover there are certain ideas or terms you frequently forget, take advantage of the virtual interview format and attach trigger words or phrases to the wall behind the screen.

Job interview with a remote software engineer

What topics should software developers practice in a mock interview?

The interviewer will assess your technical skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, soft skills and whether you will be a good fit with the company culture. Therefore, all types of interview questions should be covered in your mock interview practice. You might be able to find company-specific interview questions on sites like Glassdoor. Keep in mind how helpful having that kind of insight can be to your preparation for an interview. Here are some to get you started:

Behavioral interview questions:

  1. Provide an example of an important project goal you reached and how you achieved it.
  2. Tell me about a time when you were asked to spearhead an initiative that went against your values. 
  3. Give me an example of a time you had to work on several projects at once. How did you manage it?
  4. Tell me about a time when you were asked to spearhead an initiative that went against your values. 

Problem-solving interview questions:

  1. What would you do if an application you were working on stopped working?
  2. Tell me about a tough software development problem and how you solved it.
  3. What is the biggest problem you have faced on projects so far? How did you solve it?
  4. Tell me about a time you had to take a creative and unusual approach to solve a coding problem. 

Culture fit interview questions:

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  2. How important is work-life balance to you?
  3. Describe the work environment in which you flourish.
  4. Talk about a time when you experienced a challenging relationship with a coworker. How did you manage it?

The best way to prepare yourself for an interview is to experience the real thing (or as close to it as possible). Challenge yourself. Practice questions you find the most difficult to answer. Mock interviews and role play will teach you to be disciplined, vulnerable and not to be afraid of making mistakes. Self-imposing the uncomfortable role of interviewee will help you overcome feelings of embarrassment and unease. Interview practice will replace any self-doubt you have with self-confidence and you will go into the interview prepared for whatever the interviewer may throw your way. Good luck!

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WRITTEN BY
Nexton

Blog Team
Nexton empowers companies connecting them with the strongest engineering talent in LATAM.

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