How to calm interview nerves
So you got the phone call and they want to see you…yay !
No matter how good your CV looks and how eloquent the Cover letter, you still have to sell yourself in person – and there’s nothing like nerves to watch that job opportunity crumble away!
Do you know that if you appear to be nervous, then an interviewer may assume you don’t handle stress well and are perhaps not the best person for the job.
I have watched candidates who actually have the perfect fit for the job get so worked up, that they stumble and stutter until you want to just say « Pull yourself together ! »
Recruiters will inevitably go with the person who can handle different questions and approaches so that he can see who the person really is and not just their qualifications.
He needs to see how you will « fit » with his clients, his team, his dead-lines and his goals.
So how can you keep cool when the butterflies are dancing in your stomach, you may ask.. ??
Here are some pretty good tips to give you a head start :
The more things that are sorted out before the actual day, the better.
Even though they may seem small, just cleaning your shoes, choosing your outfit, checking the buttons and hems and maybe even planning some snacks and food for the journey will take those last minute decisions away.
When asked why he always wore the same thing, Mark Zuckerberg explained the ritual eliminated the need to decide what to wear. What he’s doing is effectively reducing his level of decision fatigue. Apparently humans are only able to make so many decisions in a day; the more we make, the less rational they become.
Studies have also shown that this fatigue affects the decision-maker..in this case the interviewer.
So, if possible, try to schedule an earlier interview. It will benefit both your performance and your interviewer’s critical-thinking powers.
Make sure you also plan the actual trip too – the better prepared you are for the journey, the parking facilities, the time-tables etc, the less rushed you will feel and the calmer you will be.
I can never get my head around this…
People practice their golf swing for hours on end, languages take months to perfect and yet for something as important as an interview – why do people just presume they can « wing it » on the day.. ?
Find a friend, teacher, interview coach or previous employer, and organise a practice interview.
Just like anything: The more practice you put in, the better you’ll perform.
The best would be to get in at least three interview coaching sessions to gather important feedback. Even better if you can find a way to record yourself. I know this can be confronting, but it is unbelievably beneficial to listen to your responses and find out the areas to improve. You will also effectively capture your mannerisms and non-verbal cues too – how do you think actors perfect their art, their characters and the message they are conveying ?
Recruiters tell me the same story – they are amazed at how few people who have done zero or little research about the actual job they are applying for. I don’t get it…why would you not want to know if the position suits you anyway… ??
Learn as much as you can about the history of the company, it’s competitive advantages and it’s future direction.
You can also easily find out about your interviewer too – through Linkedin or by Googling the person. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about them in the interview. Studies indicate that when people talk about themselves, they activate the part of the brain that’s associated with value, pleasure and motivation.
All in all, the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to respond to any questions – and also be more apt in asking your own.
As Amy Cuddy suggests, just pulling yourself into a good posture, taking up space, feeling larger and in control directly affects your brain and the way you feel about yourself.
Controlling your breath and using different methods of breathing will help you de-stress and feel calmer too. The Paced Breathing app can be a great tool for practice.
If you’re having trouble controlling your nerves and anxiety, you know what… actually embrace them and then use them to your advantage.
Anxiety is an emotion like excitement and creates adrenalin in the brain and body in the same way. Turn it around and make it show up as passion and motivation for the job.
The most important thing to remember though, is that any interview is a fantastic practice for the future. Enjoy the moment – enjoy meeting a new person in a new line of work…and if you don’t get the position, it’s not the end of the world. There’s a heap of great jobs out there, and if you’re persistent, the right one will jump right back at you.
Good luck and wishing you all the best in your job search!