Nervous before your interview? Try these tips and be at your best.
Are you applying at the moment and faced with your first interview or do you remember your last interview? How did you feel about it? If you are like many of us the interview might have caused you a fair amount of excitement and nervousness, maybe even anxiety. Do you think it influenced your performance? Did you fail to get a good night’s sleep beforehand as you were thinking too much about the upcoming interview? Did your voice crack? Did you come up with your best answers after you left the room? If so, be reassured, you are not alone. But just because you are not alone doesn’t mean you have to be this way. Follow our tips and tricks and ensure you are at your best for your next interview.
Tips before the interview
- Research the company and the position
Once you have received your interview confirmation ensure that you understand all instructions well. Research the company and the position in order to answer questions tailored to the specific position but also in order to engage during the interview with knowledge about the company. The more criteria of the position description you can tick off with your own experience the better suited you will appear. Give real examples of how you showed in the past that you have a certain skill.
- Convince yourself
I know this one is easier said than done but know that all your competitors are in the same situation and face the same fears about their great competitors; YOU. After having gained all the knowledge, repeat the facts out loud or in your head to yourself to convince yourself about your suitability for the position. Once you have convinced yourself that you are the best candidate you have convinced your biggest critic.
- Get structured
Knowledge and confidence are not always enough to control emotions. In order to avoid wasting your energy on stressing out, structure your time before the interview and complete the research, the organisational planning (how to get there, where to park, what to bring, what to wear) and any arrangements for the day well in advance. The worst start for an interview is the shirt that needs to be ironed after you having slept in and the traffic jam that forces you to run the last few metres to your interview room in order to arrive on time. Ensure you have catered for all eventualities and you arrive on time for the interview.
- Have mock interviews
Practise an interview situation with friends or family members. They might come up with questions similar to the ones in the actual interview and you can already prepare your answers. And even if not, they will ask questions you weren’t prepared for so you will have to find a way to deal with the situation in the best way possible. If no one is available for a mock interview write down possible questions or do an online search for common interview questions and write down the answers. It gives you a feeling for formulating answers and getting clear and structured in your thoughts. Having to face the situation in a more relaxed environment can lead to laughter which de-stresses. It also takes away the pressure of the unknown and helps you to relax in the actual situation.
- Get out of your mind
Not always will knowledge, confidence and planning be enough to calm your emotions. Find below some general tips to control your nervousness. If you have done your homework in advance and still feel nervous the day before your interview, try some breathing exercises to calm your body within minutes (find more information here: http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/docs/ACF3C65.pdf), do some exercise to release the adrenalin caused by the stressful situation (find more information here http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/reduce-stress-through-exercise), meet with friends, have a bath or listen to some calming music this will take your mind off the upcoming interview. Having a hot herbal tea instead of the glass of wine before going to bed can further promote calm nerves and good sleep.
Tips during the interview
- Get a good start
Ensure that you arrive on time, are dressed appropriately and know to whom to speak too in order to avoid additional stress because of lack of information.
- Fake it until you make it
Before you enter the interview room, take a deep breathe, straighten your shoulders and start smiling even if this is exactly the opposite of how you are feeling. The way you hold yourself will influence how you feel and greeting the interviewer with a smile adds to an image of self-confidence. Unless you overdo it nobody will notice that it is just a fake.
- Breathe, Breathe and Breathe
Throughout the whole interview ensure to take deep breathes as it provides your brain with enough oxygen to function at its best and signals your body that you are in a relaxing environment. This will reduce the production of stress hormones and influence how you feel. Take a breath before each answer. This not only gives you time to collect your thoughts but it also serves as an opportunity to ensure your voice will be controlled while talking and you won’t run out of breathe in the middle of a sentence.
- Think of the interview as a conversation
While of course you might not always have small talk conversations with recruiters or managers remember that they are also ‘just’ human beings. When seeing the interview more as a conversation in which both of you give input and gain further insight you feel more confident and relaxed due to a reduced feeling of hierarchy. After all, you were invited because you can offer something they want. See yourself as the great benefit they want and see them as a friend who wants you to be successful since they want to have someone great in the position.
- Don’t stress about stressing
Know that mistakes will happen and that everyone is stressed. Even your recruiter knows what it is like to be in an interview and can relate with you. Be glad that you are excited. If you are not afraid of the excitement you can utilise the increased awareness and the energy rush to your advantage and even if not, don’t dwell in your last answer but concentrate fully on the one you give right now and give your best until you are back in your home.
What are your never-fail tips to reduce stress (in interview situations or otherwise)? What calms you down? What increases stress? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Christine Schryer - Recruiter