You see the company name in your inbox and rush to click; you’ve landed an interview! For the next 60 seconds you feel on top of the world, but it’s not long till the pressure starts building…The role seems like it was made for you. You can’t afford to waste this opportunity. If only you were one of those people who don’t get nervous in interviews.
Actually, interview nerves are an almost universal experience. 93% of job seekers admit to getting nervous before an interview. When confronted with situations which we don’t do regularly, our minds easily spiral into worse-case-scenarios. What if we can’t answer a difficult question? What if our nerves are visible, and make us look incompetent?
Following our guide you help you feel prepared and ready to shine, even in the most difficult interview situations.
First, realistically plan how much time you have to prepare. Researching the company and practising your answers is important. However, leaving this ‘cramming’ to the day before will only make you feel more stressed.
Start with researching the company. Glassdoor’s article 7 Things to Research Before Any Job Interview explains that this is ‘one of the best ways to become a stand-out candidate.’
In order to demonstrate you’re a good fit for the role, you will need to scrutinise the company website. First, gather information on what types of products, services and clients you’d actually be dealing with as their employee.
Next, read the company’s value and purpose statements and see how these match with your own motivations. This will help you show the interviewer you’re a good fit – and help you assess whether working at this company will suit you.
Those who consider what is ahead are better prepared to face it. With this in mind, prepare answers to as many practice interview questions as you think are relevant. Start with the traditionals, such as ‘tell me about yourself, summarise your experience, why do you want to work here?’ LinkedIn provides an excellent selection, along with short videos on the best ways to approach them. Premium users can also access expert interview advice tailored to different industries.
Ensure you demonstrate the qualities the interviewer is looking for by highlighting required expertise in the job description. Try to also figure out the focus of each question (which skills and traits the interviewer is trying to learn about.)
Worried that there might be a question which catches you off-guard? Decide on a polite phrase to ask for a little thinking time. Interviewees tend to think their ability to respond quickly is being tested. However, showing you consider problems before jumping-in won’t create a bad impression. Interviewers ask difficult questions to observe how candidates process information.
If you are unsure what the interviewer wants to know, it’s also fine to ask a question yourself to get clarification. As well as politely filling in the dreaded moments of silence, asking such questions helps you pause, take a breath and organise your thoughts. This way, you’re likely to give a more considered answer.
Once you have prepared, it’s time to rehearse. If you applied through a good recruitment agency, they should be willing to provide you with practice interviewing services. Alternatively, you may consider hiring a career coach. However, practising with friends, family or even yourself will really enhance your fluency and help you overcome your nerves. Remember that the less interviewing seems out-of-the-ordinary, the more you’ll feel comfortable enough to be yourself.
The final leg of your planning should concern ensuring you arrive on-time and unflustered on the day. Double check addresses, plan your route and learn the interviewer or hiring manager’s name.
On the night before your interview switch the focus of your preparation to making yourself feel as relaxed as possible. Paying attention to the needs of your mind and body will really make a difference to how you cope in potentially stressful situations.
After all your hard work rehearsing, plan yourself some rewards. Choose something relaxing to do the night before the big day, such as watching a favourite film. Also, decide on a treat you will give yourself after the interview, such as organising a night out with friends. Knowing you have something pleasurable to look forward to will help you keep smiling.
On the big day
Heard the saying, if you feel good, you look good? This is also a good strategy to use for appearing calm in interviews. Fitting in a little exercise prior to the interview can go a long way to helping you look and feel more relaxed.
Top athletes know that gaining control of your thinking can make all the difference between winning and losing. Positive thinking techniques they use, like repeating affirmations, also work well for interviews. Glassdoor recommends repeating these 5 affirmations to stay positive during the interview process:
- I am calm and confident; job interviews are easy.
- I am perfect for this position; I am their ideal candidate.
- I love job interviews, and my energy is contagious.
- I impress interviewers; I stand out above the rest.
- I am an excellent candidate, and I exude capability.
In the interview
You’ve done everything you possibly can to prepare, and that alone should make you feel more at ease. Try to smile, this not only creates a good impression but is proven to relax you. To maintain a cool head during the interview take your time, breathe slowly and don’t talk too fast. Good luck!