Job interviews can make even the most confident of us nervous. Despite advice to ‘just be yourself’, it is natural to feel anxious. However some simple techniques, combined with positive thinking, can help reduce your stress levels. Read on to find out how to overcome job interview nerves and ensure you shine.
You are keen to do well, perform better than other candidates and win the role. But remember interviews are a two-way process: you are finding out about the job and the company, just like they are finding out whether you are a good fit for the role. Don’t forget the employer was impressed by your resume and wanted to know more about you, so they too will be keen for you to do well.
Some stress is good – the adrenalin can boost your performance. But in an interview you want to appear relaxed and confident rather than anxious. So what can you do to conquer your job interview nerves?
1. Be prepared for job interview nerves
Lay the foundation for interview confidence through preparation. A fear of the unknown can make you feel nervous, so tackle it with some thorough research.
- Study the organisation: find out about its work, mission statement and culture.
- Look up the interviewer on LinkedIn.
- Scrutinise the position description: be clear about what the employer is looking for.
- Sort out the logistics. Work out a route to the interview. Allow time for public transport delays or bad traffic. You can use the spare time to gather your composure and relax before the interview.
2. Practise your responses
Worried that you are going to freeze or say the wrong thing? Practise your responses to possible interview questions to increase your confidence in your ability to answer and anticipate questions. Rehearse with a friend to gain feedback and help you refine your technique.
3. Think positively
What is the worst that can happen in an interview? Your mind goes blank, you say something inappropriate, you walk into a fire extinguisher (this happened to me – I still got the job)…
In reality, it is unlikely to happen. Forget about the worst case scenario, and instead imagine yourself in control and answering all the questions. And keep thinking it will go well.
Substitute negative thoughts with positive ones: “I could get this job” rather than “I won’t get this job.”
It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Remind yourself it is just one interview. There will be others. Regard it as a challenge to overcome, rather than a judging process.
Remember past successes and the strengths you would bring to the role. Focus on doing your best, not giving perfect answers or worrying about elements beyond your control such as the other candidates.
The night before the interview, relax and calm down. Relaxation techniques include:
- Taking a bath.
- Going to the gym (natural endorphins can improve your frame of mind).
- Having an early night. Don’t worry if you don’t get a good night’s sleep.
On the day, eat a healthy breakfast. Try to go for a walk to get some fresh air. On the way there, keep calm by talking to a friend, reading a book or listening to music. Before the interview, take some deep breathes and release the tension in your body with some good shakes.
Start the interview strongly. A smile and a strong handshake can create an impression of self-confidence.
If you become anxious during the interview, pause and recover with a sip of water to mask your nerves. If your heart begins to race, make a conscious effort to calm down with some slow, deep breaths. Forget about the odd slip or stumble. Focus on appearing confidence, even if you feel a nervous wreck.
Don’t rush your responses. Take a few seconds to consider the question then slowly and clearly give your answer. If you forget the question, ask the interviewer if you have covered their key points in your answer, or ask them to repeat it.
5. Move on
If you weren’t as confident as you had hoped in the interview, don’t dwell on how your nerves affected your performance. Avoid thinking about the things you wish you had or hadn’t said.
Focus on the positives rather than your perceived failures (perception is often worse than reality). Learn from the experience and use it to your advantage next time.
If you can, ask for feedback on your performance to help you improve your interview style.
If you are receiving outplacement services, practise with your consultant. Otherwise for more help with overcoming job interview nerves and how to give a winning performance, get in touch about career coaching.