Taming Those Nerves in a Job Interview! (5 Tips to Success)

BY Anthony Loughhead |

It doesn’t matter how hard you try, but when you feel nervous during a job interview and it's almost impossible to mask the anxiety — the uncontrollable fidgeting and body language can be a dead giveaway!

The secret to displaying confidence when you're centre stage is to keep calm, relax and soldier on. Easy, right?

Well, if you implement a few of the below strategies for maintaining calm focus during a job interview, it could secure your employment destination. Remember if "you know the journey, you can own the destination”.

1. Research the business and start rehearsing your 3 interview questions

Nothing abolishes stress and delivers more confidence than accurate preparation for an interview.

Firstly, research the organisation you're interviewing with, consider LinkedIn to connect with employees that work in this company. This way you may be able to engage them in conversation and learn more about the business model. Then look at doing more research for common interview questions like "Tell me about yourself" and "Tell me about a time when”. The secret is to practice but not memorise your answers. Remember to consider attending the interview prepared with reasons why you would be a great addition to the company and the problems you can help the company solve. For example - share how your past experience was able to contribute to helping your previous employer ‘save money’, provided this is true and happened.

Interview preparation can be considered as an afterthought and winging it doesn’t make you look real, it makes you look like you didn't care enough to want the job.

2. Prepare for battle!

Some say the best defence is a great offence when the challenge is ahead of you! Knowing in advance how you could handle an awkward interview situation can mean the difference between allowing your nerves to get the better of you and handling pressure with poise.

Here are a couple awkward interview scenarios you can prepare for:

  • Not knowing the answer to a question during a job interview

If this happens, try answering the question the best you can and using a thank you email – this is where you can elaborate more with tricky questions and save the day!

  • Being asked questions you don't really like answering

It’s good to be genuine and you also need to sell yourself from the employer’s perspective. What if you were asked why you were let go from your last employer? Be honest, but still interpret the situation in the best light. Practise answering this question as it comes up almost 99% of the time in most job interviews. The key is to focus on the positive and talk about the things you learned from your previous job.

3. Test the water before the interview takes place

The week before your scheduled interview, commuting to the location of the business is a great way to work out the travel time and route you need to take so you are comfortable. If this isn't possible, try Google Maps and Whereis.com which can help you map out your travel and destination. Just be sure to arrive at least 10-15 minutes before your interview.

If you arrive too early, wait in your car or a café around the corner as this can create a bad impression with your interviewer. Company representatives are very busy and time poor individuals. Putting added pressure by showing up 30 minutes before an interview is not a good first impression!

If you are having a Skype interview, make sure you have plenty of internet data available so your interview doesn’t get cut off mid-way. How embarrassing could this look? Test your computer equipment a few days prior to the interview by Skyping a friend or colleague. Test the camera, video access, sound, Skype address and login details are all in check.

4. Exercise, snack, pep talk

Consider putting together a pre-interview routine that helps you stay calm, focussed and optimistic. One routine could include working out before an interview to help relax your overreacting mind - taking a bike ride or even yoga stances would do the trick. Exercise is a fantastic way to burn off nervous energy so you don't leap into the interview room overly enthusiastic. Here’s the added bonus – extra endorphins will help boost your mood and provide a positive state of mind.

Think about reducing your caffeine intake before the day of your interview to keep the butterflies at bay. Try snacking on foods that are natural beta blockers like almonds, bananas, oatmeal and pomegranate juice. These foods can assist in lowering your blood pressure, lessening your anxiety, and reducing your heart rate.

Pep talks are well known in the sports locker room before a big game, but they can also be great just before heading into a job interview. To reduce anxiety, drown out that negative commentary with a personal pep talk! For example, "I'm a real leader in my field. I have a lot of knowledge and experience that would be very useful for this employer. I'm smart, talented, and I can work well with fellow colleagues. This interview is not a life-or-death experience. It's just an opportunity to have a discussion about my experience and background and I know more about that than anyone!" Try this because most of the time it can really set you up for a successful outcome.

5. Soak up the experience and learn from it

It’s always tricky to know the how’s and why’s of what went wrong when you didn’t get the job. Remember to follow up with the interviewer and ask where you could have put up a better fight in the interview so you can gain constructive feedback and be ready for next time. Take the positive approach and think that if there were hundreds of job applicants for one role and you made it to interview stage, this is a massive victory in today’s job market!

Being unsuccessful after a job interview can severely affect your confidence. Rejection, while not satisfying, can sometimes be blown out of proportion and regarded as a sign of failure. However, by thinking objectively you can use it to build on your core strengths, address development points and prepare yourself for that next opportunity. There will be more interviews along the career journey.

For more guidance on interviewing tips, contact us to boost your career skills and speak to our friendly advisors who will be able to guide you through the interview process. 

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