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“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” — Beverly Sills
Job interview exercises can help you prepare accordingly and think about your answers to specific questions before attending the actual interview. You might also use a job interview exercise to gain confidence in your communication skills and speaking ability, as preparing beforehand might help you speak clearly and remain confident during your interview.
Let’s check 8 different exercises that you can use to improve your job interview readiness.
1- Sample STAR questions
While you won’t know the interview questions ahead of time, most behavioral interviews will focus on various work-related challenges that demonstrate critical thinking and problem solving and situations that showcase leadership skills, conflict resolution, and performance under pressure. Now let’s illustrate what STAR stands for.
“Share an example of a time when you faced a difficult problem at work. How did you solve this problem?”
Situation: “I was working as a retail manager at a department store during prom season. A customer purchased a dress online and had it delivered to the store. One of my associates accidentally put the dress out on the floor, where another customer immediately bought it.
Task: I knew I needed to make this right for the customer to meet my service level standards and uphold the company’s reputation.
Action: Before calling the customer to let her know about the mistake, I located the same dress at another store location nearby. I ordered it to be pressed and delivered to her home the morning of prom, along with a gift card to thank her for her understanding.
Result: The customer was so thankful; she wrote us a five-star review on several review sites.”
2- Unconventional Objects
For this exercise, you need access to a few household objects or items you can find around the office. Things you might use include a pen, a shoelace, a plate, or a piece of paper. Once you have your items, consider how you might use each item in a different way than its intended use. For example, if you’re using a shoelace as your item, you might think of benefits like a leash for a dog, a jump rope, or delicious spaghetti.
This exercise can identify areas of your creativity and might help answer questions about unconventional job duties or finding creative solutions to workplace challenges.
3- Conversational Telephone
Playing Conversational Telephone can help you with a job interview by preparing you to listen actively and respond with consideration to what you hear.
For this exercise, you need a partner to whom you can speak out loud. One member of the pair can start the activity with a simple statement. Then, the second partner can answer another statement that begins with the end of their partner’s previous statement. For example, if the first partner says, “I love working with children because I get to complete art projects at work,” the second partner might reply, “Completing art projects at work is definitely fun, and it also helps me think of new ideas for classroom activities.”
4- Practice Presentations
This exercise involves conducting a presentation on a topic you are not familiar with. Practice Presentations can be most successful in group settings, so it might be helpful to find a few peers to complete the exercise with. Every member can take turns giving a presentation about a topic they have no experience with. The goal of the exercise is not to provide correct information but to remain focused and practice speaking clearly.
Practice Presentations can help prepare you for an interview by allowing you to practice speaking with confidence and clarity for extended periods, as you might do in an interview with complex questions.
5- Personal Map
This exercise involves creating a visual map of your values and life and personality elements. Draw a circle around your name at the center of the page and additional circles next to it for your professional life, personal life, relationships, and hobbies. Now add elements that connect to their respective circles with lines.
For example, you might write words that reference your previous work experiences or professional skills you have around the circle titled “professional life” to display the aspects of your professional life that are most important to you.
This exercise can prepare you for interview questions about your work experience and personal interests by providing examples to use in your answers.
6- Mock Interview
Conduct a mock interview with one of your peers. This exercise involves coming up with a list of potential interview questions and asking a peer or coworker. While interviewing a peer, you can take notes about their responses and help guide them through answering the questions. Doing so can put you in the interviewer’s position and enable you to consider why an interviewer might ask specific questions, exposing more potential answers that you can reference to develop your ones.
7- Make a Story from a Word
For this exercise, you simply need to think of a few words that do not relate to each other. Then, you can consider each word and create a story around it based on the word alone and what you think about it. For example, if your word is “coat,” you might make up a story about a homeless person who finds a coat at a second-hand market, brings it, and finds a gold coin inside of it. You can repeat this process with as many words as you want and think of ideas for long or short stories.
This exercise can help you elaborate good answers in real-time as the questions are presented, identifying relevant details for the interview.
8- Moving Motivators Cards
Create cards for different motivators, such as status, goals, power, and stability, to complete this exercise. Then, organize the cards in a line ranked by importance to you, with the cards to the right being the most important. Once the cards are in order, consider a few potential changes that might affect how important specific motivators are to you and show how they might change your motivation by moving your cards in the line.
For example, if “status” is your most crucial card at first, you consider a career change that places you in a low-tier position. Still, with more opportunities to be creative, you might move “creativity” above “status.” This exercise can help you prioritize your values to determine which elements of your life might be most important to mention in an interview.
This exercise facilitation reveals the effect of an (organizational) change on the people’s motivators. When most of the important motivators go down, or when only the least important ones go up, you may realize that you have some work to do on your motivation.
WEEKLY VOCABULARY 🗣
Motivator: something that provides a reason or stimulus to do something.
Showcase: a glass case used for displaying articles in a store or museum.
Prioritize: designate or treat (something) as more important than other things.
PHRASAL VERBS ✍
“You can depend on me to get the job done.”
“They relied heavily on the advice of their professional advisers.”
“You have to decide if it’s important enough to speak up.”
Nine-to-five: describe work that begins at 9 am and ends at 5 pm, usually from Monday to Friday. The term generally implies a stable job in an office.
Hatchetman: someone who is employed to do unpleasant things, such as firing people. The idiom has darker origins when men with hatchets (minor axes) or other weapons were employed to resolve disagreements between people.
Work-to-rule: a form of protest where employees only do what they are expected to and nothing more to slow down production.