Your heart beats faster. Your palms are sweaty. Your voice trembles. Or maybe not. Because do you know something? Interviews don’t have to be the anxiety-inducing calamities many people fear them to be. With a slight attitude shift and a little preparation, you can hit the interview room with the controlled confidence that will help you shine.
Here are ten tips to banish interview nerves once and for all.
1. You’re not alone. Embrace it.
Lots of people feel nervous before an interview. What separates the best from the rest? Using your interview nerves in a positive way, rather than letting interview anxiety become overwhelming. So embrace your nerves: it’s your wake up call to prepare.
2. Remember: they want you
You’ve got an interview. This employer reckons you have what it takes to succeed in the role. If that isn’t a confidence booster, what is? It’s also worth remembering that there’s a big difference between looking for the good in someone and looking for the bad in someone. Nobody’s trying to find you out. Your interview is not a witch hunt.
Your interviewers want to find the good in you. They are looking for reasons to hire you, not to call you out. Besides, this is not a one-way thing. Your interviewers have to sell themselves (and their business) to you too, and the person opposite you might even feel a bit nervous about conducting the interview. You are as entitled to make judgements about them as they are about you. An inquisition this is not.
3. Ask your recruiter
Did you find this vacancy through a recruitment agency? The best consultants offer interview preparation tips and advice on how to impress your interviewers. If that information doesn’t come automatically from your consultant, don’t be afraid to ask.
4. Research the company (and yourself)
It goes without saying that you should thoroughly research the company you are visiting. Try to learn about their values, their culture, their achievements and their market challenges. Of course, you should also research yourself too. Be prepared to expand on the achievements you have listed on your CV and bone-up on your career history.
5. Plan your answers
Are you psychic? In that case you cannot know for sure what you’re going to be asked during your interview. Scary, huh? Well, no. Not really. Because with a little thought you can prepare answers for the type of questions that are extremely likely to come up. Preparing and rehearsing your answers (out loud) a few nights before your interview is a sure-fire way to nix your interview nerves. And we have written extensively to give you all the help you need.
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6. Plan your journey
Make sure you know where your interview is, how you’re going to get there and how long it’s going to take - factoring in 15-30 minutes of buffer for unexpected delays. Even better? Do a trial run of the journey a few days before your actual interview. Part of the reason people worry about interviews is fear of the unknown. The more unknown you turn into known, the less you will worry on interview day. So plan your journey wisely. That includes finding out where you should aim for or who you should ask for once you get to the industrial estate or main building of your interview. (Some buildings are like rabbit warrens shared by several different businesses.)
7. Plan your outfit
It’s a lot easier to feel confident on the inside when you look the part on the outside. Choose an outfit that’s appropriate for interview, checking it well in advance for cleanliness, mothballs or any other signs of sartorial sabotage. It is also worth asking your recruiter what is appropriate to wear for that particular company – nothing worse than turning up fully suited and booted and your interviewers are in jeans and t-shirts!
>> How to dress for a job interview
8. Relax your mind
A panicked, overactive mind is not going to help you perform at your peak come interview time. There are lots of things you can do to relax those overactive synapses - and you will know what works best for you. Take a long, hot bath the night before the interview. Go for a run (exercise is a potent confidence-booster). Use an app such as Headspace to perform a little guided meditation (it takes as little as two minutes). You know best. Get to it.
During the interview, focusing on your breathing might help you to reduce the jitters. If you tend to talk at 500 words per minute when the nerves kick in, this could also be a reminder to speak at a slower, more natural pace. Ultimately, remember that a little bit of stress is perfectly natural and will help to keep you alert and your answers sharp.
9. Get your entrance right
First impressions count for a lot in the interview room. A positive, confident start can set the tone for the entire interview. Walking in with a smile and your head up before offering a firm handshake to your interviewer(s) says: I’m a confident candidate. And do you know what? Acting more confident makes you feel more confident, which makes you be more confident.
>> 15 body language tips to ace your interview
10. Remember: an interview is a means to an end (and not the one you think)
One of the things that contributes to interview nerves is over-thinking the process - or thinking too far ahead. People worry about whether this is the right job for them. Or even the right career. What if the commute is too far? What if you don’t like the culture of the office? Pah, relax. Stop getting carried away. Those questions absolutely do not matter right now.
You have one goal from the interview: to score a job offer. Achieve that first, then you can tackle the other stuff. To repeat: the interview is a means to an end: to get a job offer. You can figure out whether you actually want the job later. Worrying about that stuff now is a waste of energy and precious brain power.
So there you have it! Go get ‘em.