Interviewing is a scary business, we can build ourselves up into a frenzy of emotions and panic. It’s as if our whole future and life is dependent on a 45 minute chat. Sometimes it really really feels that way. So what can we do to allay our fears, calm our nerves and help us get through it?
Preparation is key when dealing with interview nerves. Knowing about the company, about the job and even about the interviewers can instil a confidence in you. Often we panic when faced with the unknown so the more that we do know then that can make things easier. Prepare as well about yourself and what you’ve achieved. For me I find it useful to list what I am proud of, my work achievements and to also look at the job that I am going for and see how they connect. If you can effortlessly weave them into a conversation then you are winning.
Also prepare your journey, know where you are supposed to be and leave yourself more than enough time to get there. Pre iPhones I went for an interview and walked 2 miles in the wrong direction, built myself up into a panic and was 45 minutes late, not good and understandably I didn’t get the job.
Make sure you have everything before you go, address, phone, wallet, tube pass. One candidate last year for me was 45 minutes late and their excuse was “I forgot my tube pass” when I asked why she didn’t just buy a ticket, she replied “I forgot my purse too”. These things happen but make sure they don’t happen when you are heading to an interview.
If it’s easier for you to refer to notes in an interview take a small pad with jotted headlines on it for you to refer to. Ask the interviewer if they are ok with this when you are introduced to them.
Know how you respond to nerves. I talk incessantly and laugh nervously (not always a good look), but by knowing how you react you can try and change accordingly.
Ask for water if you feel that your mouth is getting dried up, that’s perfectly acceptable. Don’t feel like it’s a race, that 5 second pause might feel like an hour to you but really to the interviewers it feels like no time at all. So many people just feel the pressure to talk that they just ramble and babble to feel in silence, you don’t need to do this.
If you don’t understand the question then ask, it’s fine to say “do you mean this?” Now if they have said the question ten times and you are still struggling then maybe there is an issue there.
Always remember this is a conversation for both of you. It’s about finding out whether both parties (and yes that includes you) are suitable to work together. Try and banish thoughts of exams and tests and failure out of your head and imagine this is a professional chat between colleagues. So often people are amazingly confident and professional in their day to day jobs but panic in an interview, try to see the two as not being so different and hopefully that will help.
Smile and be open and friendly , the simple act of a smile can change your posture and naturally calm you down.
You might get the old good cop/ bad cop routine in an interview, go with this and try not to take it personally. No one is screaming out I hate you, what they are doing is trying to see how you react to pressure. Something you’ve done well a million times in your career so go with it.. Don’t be defensive, take your time, clarify and be professional.
I find practice makes perfect with interviews, so get yourself to many, practice with friends and colleagues, and you know what it becomes routine and you find that the thing you were most panicked about actually doesn’t seem so bad after all. Good luck!