Job interviews are a nerve-wracking experience for all of us. If it’s for a job you really want especially, feeling the pressure to perform is natural.
But there are some things you can do to minimise the chances of your nerves getting the better of you.
1. Come up with a pre-interview routine.
This one is all about figuring out what works best for you, but the familiarity of having a routine you undergo before every job interview will help minimise stress. Maybe you lay out the clothes you’re going to wear the night before to remove the time and mental energy it takes to decide on the day. You could try power poses, positive affirmations or meditating for 10 minutes the morning of your interview. Rather than sitting around in the preceding hours thinking about it and getting increasingly tense, you could go to the gym, for a run or a brisk walk to de-stress.
Every good pre-interview routine should include familiarising yourself with the route you’re going to take in advance. Rushing around and panicking you’re going to be late is only going to add to any interview nerves you already have. Be sure to account for traffic and aim to be there 10 minutes early so you have time to compose yourself.
2. Know your stuff.
It doesn’t matter how many strategies you employ to minimise anxiety, if you’re not prepared for your interview, you’re going to be very nervous.
Research the company’s culture, values, goals, social media presence, place in their industry and check out the LinkedIn account of the person you’ll be meeting. If the company has a product or service you can try for yourself, you should be doing so beforehand.
Make sure you know your own key talking points too. If you’re prone to being very nervous, you can practise answers to common interview questions, like “tell me about yourself” and “what’s your biggest weakness?”, in front of your friends, family or just out loud to yourself.
3. Be aware of the way you speak and hold yourself.
If you’re worried about how you come across when nervous, it can be helpful to video yourself answering common interview questions. When you watch the footage back, look for any overuses of “umm”, “maybe”, “I think”, “just”, and try to eliminate them where possible from the way you communicate. Using qualifiers and hesitating suggests you aren’t really sure of what you’re saying. Try also not to speak too quickly or to fidget – it’ll detract from the answers you’re giving.
4. Don’t be afraid to take a second to think about questions before answering.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, there’s no problem with calmly pausing before you answer. It’s better to say, “That’s a really good question, can I take a moment to think about that?” and collect your thoughts, than to rush in with a muddled, poorly thought-out response for fear of awkward silences.
Remember, interviewers won’t just be analysing what you say, they’ll want to see how you cope under pressure and how you respond to difficult questions that you can’t rehearse answers to. So, take some deep breaths and try not to lose your cool.
5. Finally, approach interviews as a two-way process.
An interview needn’t always follow the “question, answer, question, answer” format. If you want to seem really confident, interject where appropriate with a question for the interviewer. That way, it becomes more of a natural conversation and less of an interrogation where any questions you have must be held until the end.
If you remember the onus isn’t wholly on you to impress, and that the interview is an opportunity for both interviewer and interviewee to find out together if this is a good fit, you’ll feel less pressure.