More often than not, the nerves and pressure of a job interview can make you act differently.
To stop nerves from getting the better of you, here are some tips to help you nail those interviews, as recommended by experts.
It’s normal to be nervous before and during a job interview. Even the most seasoned executives get nervous. Why? You’re going to be judged. That’s not a great feeling. It’s a reality. So accept that someone (or a group of people) is going to judge you – rightly or wrongly – and it is what it is.
Typically, it’s not a reflection on you personally, but more on whether your experiences are a good fit for the role and if you’re a good fit for the organizational culture. There’s nothing wrong with not being a good fit; in fact, it’s better for you to know at the interview stage than after having accepted a role.
Having said this, here are some tried and true tips to help you ease your nervousness:
Preparation is the key to almost everything in life. Same here. The more prepared you are, the less nervous you’ll be. Why? You’ll know the product or services the organization provides and can speak to them and how your experience relates.
You’ll (hopefully) know more about the people with whom you’ll interview, and can use that information to help build rapport, which itself will ease nervousness.
Know your own story
Preparation also includes knowing your story: what you’ve done in your career, why you have made the choices that you have, what you’ve learned along the way, and what you’re now seeking in your next role and why. This also means that you can relate these past experiences to the interview and show how you are a great fit.
Have career stories
Generally, “Challenge, Action, Result” – or some variation (there are many variations on this theme) – stories help explain your roles and experiences and can help the hiring manager see how you might apply these experiences to the challenges or issues that they are facing and expect this person to help resolve.
Dress for success
It’s hard to be overdressed for a job interview. Absolutely ask if you’re not sure – for example, a high tech start-up may not expect you to dress up. A corporate role might. It’s rare that it would be held against you if you were overdressed (unless you didn’t do your homework and should’ve known better).
Sleep for success
Get a good night’s sleep the night before. As hard as this may be as you’re thinking about the interview, it’s key to be fresh.
Make sure you’re not hungry during the interview or thinking about what you’re going to have for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Be sure what you eat is healthful, gives you energy, doesn’t dehydrate you (you may be walking or talking or both a lot!), and won’t cause other issues (like flatulence… you might be surprised about what goes on in interviews…)
Do deep breathing before you walk into the room
Or close your eyes and envision yourself in a spot where you like to relax. Do whatever works for you. It’s expected that folks will be nervous and interviewers know this. Overly nervous isn’t good; some nervousness is. In fact, not being nervous at all could be seen as a sign of arrogance or cockiness.
Know that you will do your best, be prepared, and be true to yourself. That alone should help calm your nerves. Don’t get rattled by difficult questions – think through your answers (silence is ok, and in fact, thoughtfulness is a good trait in most interviews) and be honest.
Send a “thank you” note – even if you don’t want the job
It’s classy, it’s not done much anymore (unfortunately), and it shows character and appreciation. The best part? You’ll stand out. This is your “closure” to the interview. Nervousness over.
It’s critical to prepare mentally, physically, and energetically.
- Do your research on the organization, the job, the interviewers.
- Anticipate possible questions and have your answers ready.
- Prepare your own questions. It’s not only ok to ask; questions show interest.
- Develop a self-empowering mindset.
- Visualize a successful interview.
- Cultivate positive expectations (without getting attached to them) by asking empowering “what if” questions: “What if I have everything it takes to get this job?”, “What if I could do my best during this interview?”, “What if I could trust myself to do a great job with this interview?”
- Remind yourself that it’s not necessary to have 100% of the requirements listed. If you did, the job wouldn’t be a step up for you. We all can learn “on the job.” It’s impossible to know it all before you start.
- Meditate (either practice quieting your mind or, if that’s too challenging, do a guided meditation).
- Set an intention to answer questions in a concise manner so you don’t fall into the trap of overtalking.
- Remind yourself that your nervousness is a projection into the future. Here and now, no decision has been taken. All possibilities are still there, all opportunities still open. And if this one doesn’t come through, it will still be great practice and help you get prepared for future opportunities.
- Be fully present, center & ground yourself in your energy, for example with these exercises:
- Feel your body from the inside out: Close your eyes and look inward, become present.
- Contract and relax muscle groups to get more present in your body.
- Tap into your power energy: breathe into your belly, focus on your solar plexus (stomach) area, and breathe into this area. Feel your inner power and allow it to expand in your entire body and around your body. Picture this inner power energy as a bubble around yourself. This helps increase your level of confidence and also enhances your perceived presence.
- Deep belly breathing increases your oxygen supply through your entire body (and therefore your mental focus), relaxes muscle tension and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm down. It can have a positive influence on your heart rate, and it helps release endorphins, which have a calming effect as well.
- Anchor and trigger a feeling of confidence (NLP): Remember a moment when you felt extremely confident; re-live it in your mind; anchor this feeling with a hand gesture that you don’t usually use for anything else. Use this hand gesture when you need it before/during the job interview (should be something discrete).
- Power pose (see Amy Cuddy) and power dance (my preferred way, as I love to dance). Put on a powerful song, dance to it in big, expansive movements; your body and mind continuously exchange information, they are connected; a change in posture, movement, gestures can impact how you show up for the interview and how confident you feel.
- Take a walk in Nature if possible.
- Watch a comedy show; humor dissipates the butterflies in your stomach.
- Dress for the occasion. How we show up, makes a huge difference, also on video and even over the phone.
Be aware of the interview process
The best way to prevent nervousness before an interview is to be prepared. If the candidate is working with a recruiter, then that recruiter should walk them through what they are likely to expect in the interview process.
Study possible interview questions
If the candidate is focused on what they need to convey as opposed to memorizing lines for specific questions, this will give them more confidence in their answer. Some of the things that they want to convey are to let the interviewer know that they are interested and excited in the position but that they are looking at others also.
A candidate that is desperate for a move, even if they are extremely well qualified, comes across as needy which doesn’t bode well for chances of being hired. Also when discussing behavioral-based questions, what they want to look at is as an equation. Problem + Solution = Outcome.
Use meditation or breathing exercises
Preparation will allay nervousness for many candidates but for some meditation will help them. Ideally, they will want to meditate or focus on relaxing breathing exercises at least twice before the actual interview for at least 15 minutes if possible. Once upon waking up in the morning and then once again right before entering the interview location.
Just simply closing eyes and concentrating only on the breathing can add another layer of relaxation and confidence to those candidates that are a little more anxious before their interviews.
The best way to not be nervous before and during a job interview is to be prepared. Here are a few tips on how to do that:
- Have your resume up to date and printed with enough copies. You never know who might step into the interview. The worst that can happen if you have too many resumes is that you have additional copies for another interview.
- Do your company research. Know not only about the job you are applying for but also the company. You can find out about top executives and managers in the company through LinkedIn.
- Dress appropriately for the interview. Nothing makes a person more nervous than showing up somewhere to find out they are dressed differently from everyone else.
- Be early for the interview. Just getting there 5 minutes before or right on time doesn’t allow for you to compose yourself and feel comfortable in the environment. Early is anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes before your scheduled time.
- Be ready to speak to why this is the right opportunity for you. What will you be able to bring to the organization?
- Have questions of your own to ask the interviewer. You should be interviewing the organization as well. Remember you are looking to join this company and invest your time and commitment.
- Try to have an organic conversation. Those are the best interviews, two people developing a rapport with each other.
All the above tips will allow candidates to shine and be themselves during the interview. That’s what the interviewer is really trying to find out “who you really are”.
A job interview is one of the scariest moments of every job applicant of any field. It can cause anxiety and loss of sleep prior to the applicant’s scheduled date no matter how prepared and how confident they can be. Listed below are some of the things an applicant can consider doing for the job interview:
Review the company’s profile
It has been taught to every college student who will soon be one of the professionals who will render their service. Reviewing the company’s profile could help you have a background of the company you are applying for. It’s good that you know what you’re going yourself into.
It could add to the hiring manager’s impression that you check first before diving yourself anywhere. Just like in school, you get nervous when a professor asked you a question and you don’t know the answer.
Punctuality is still the best measure
Being punctual couldn’t just add a good impression for you, it could also help you. In an interview, it is advisable to an applicant to come 1 hour before the scheduled time to have some time to rest, unwind and think because we know that those who are late are being pre-occupied and stressed, traffic stressed or etc., and can’t compose themselves when they came face-to-face with their hiring manager. It could add to the applicant’s nervousness and anxiety. When you’re early, you’re giving yourself a time to be prepared.
Wear your best
Every applicant has been oriented about the dress impression since college. Wearing the best formal outfit and footwear in your closet gives the impression that you’re serious about the job you’re entering. There’s this thing that an applicant should never forget – to wear their best and sincerest smile. It could give the applicant an assuring feeling that everything will be alright.
We’ve all been there and it’s never fun. The short breath, sweaty hands, and a tape of apocalyptic scenarios playing out in your head. So what is a candidate to do?
Step back and take a look at the bigger picture
As the famous Persian adage stated: This too shall pass. You’ve made it successfully through previous ones and you shall once again. Indeed, some go better and others worse, but you’ve always come out wiser and richer for the experience.
Focus on the positives
Another cliche as old as the world, but there’s a reason it’s often repeated. Because it’s true. So, instead of beating yourself up for the times when the interview didn’t go well, refocus instead on the times when they did. What did you do right? How were you able to capitalize and build positive momentum? What were your tonality and body language?
Similarly, shift your attention towards your biggest strengths, achievements, and the value you bring to the table vs. guilt-tripping yourself about your weaknesses and shortcomings. Guess what, being human – we all have them.
Remember that it’s OK to be nervous
It’s a natural mix of adrenaline, alertness, and wanting to do well. It’s normal as we all go through it. So as you wait to be called intake comfort in:
- You’ve thoroughly prepared for it
- You have the experience and accomplishments that more than prove your value
- Job hunting always has been a numbers game
Take a break
Take a mental break – 1-minute meditation, a few slow and deep breaths, a bathroom break, or even a quick check of the latest memes. Anything to break the tension and bring you back to the present. Silly perhaps, but sure works!
Have many options
Until you don’t receive an offer, your job hunt isn’t over. So do not rest on laurels. Keep applying, networking, and getting those interviews lined-up. When you have a few options to choose from the stakes automatically diminish and with that so will your nerves. In other words, have eggs in more than one basket.
Familiarize yourself with the company
You won’t be as nervous in a job interview if you’ve read the companies’ website thoroughly. And you’ll be less nervous if you practice your interviewing skills with a friend or family member in advance. Use Zoom (it’s free) to do a practice video conference if that’s the format on which your interview will take place.
For example, let’s say it’s a phone interview. Put your dogs outside so they don’t bark, or take the call in your car in the parking lot at work so you’re not disturbed or in fear that a co-worker will overhear your call.
Do not be late
Arrive early if it’s in person. Online, about 15-30 minutes before your interview, gather your resume, the job posting, and information you’ve gleaned from the website. You can do this on paper or computer — pull those up in case the interviewer asks you about job or company specifics.
Most recruiters want to know you’ve done your homework. Researching the job and the company will increase your confidence that you’re the right fit for the role. And, feeling confident is the antidote to being nervous.
Prepare a list of your features and benefits relating to the interview
One of the best ways to not be nervous about and during a job interview is to be prepared. Creating a list of features and benefits before interviews can boost confidence and greatly reduce anxiety.
Features are essential characteristics or statements about you and the service you provide. For example, “I have strong skills in process improvement.” Many job seekers focus primarily on features in the interview; however, employers are more concerned with the benefits. Benefits are the outcomes or results a candidate can offer.
For instance, “With my process improvement skills, I can significantly improve productivity and reduce costs. I have a proven track record of implementing process improvements that have reduced costs by up to 70% and improved productivity by 40%.”
I always recommend that clients create a list of at least five to ten features and benefits. These can be used as talking points throughout the interview, starting with the “Tell me about yourself” portion of the conversation.
More importantly, they provide the answer to multiple interview questions from “What are your strengths?” to “Why should I hire you?” to “What sets you apart from other candidates?” to “What is your greatest accomplishment?” .
Develop your self-awareness
An interview is essentially a set of questions about you. The most important step in preparing for an interview is to take steps to really understand yourself.
I have helped over 5,000 people prepare for interviews and the ones who do the best are the ones who take the time to think about how their experience and personality will be a good fit for the job and then they practice how they would answer common interview questions for the job that they are applying.
If you are very nervous before interviews it’s one of these two things:
- You didn’t prepare enough. The best way to decrease your nerves is to know your interview style, know yourself and have practiced your answers- you will feel much more confident.
- You put too much emphasis on the unknown. They stress about what the interviewer will be like, what questions they will ask, and if they will like them. There is no way to prepare for this. You can’t control what the other person is going to do. You can’t control what your competition will do and you certainly can’t control the outcome. The only thing you can control is yourself. If you have prepared.
Steve O’Brien President of Staffing, Job.com Develop a story around your career
Preparation is key to managing nerves prior to a job interview. It can be helpful to develop a story around your career; one that highlights your accomplishments at your last position, any challenges you may have faced, how you overcame them, and the results of your actions.
Once you’ve got the story thought out, tell it to those close to you, and ask for their feedback. This helps with editing the story to be sure the point is crystal clear while giving you a chance to more easily recall the story later.
Remember that in general, employers are rooting for you and sincerely want you to fit into their organization. Presenting your best-prepared self will give you the best chance of impressing your interviewers, keeping them engaged, and acing the interview.
Read through the job description carefully
The best way to beat nervousness is to be prepared. Prepare a career story for each requirement so that when the interviewer asks you to tell them about a time you accomplished something they listed, you’re ready with experience or achievement you can share.
Practice your answers ahead of time
This can be done with another professional or career coach. If that isn’t an option, try recording yourself answering the questions, and keep doing it until you sound confident and relaxed when giving your answer.
Being prepared also means researching the company and your interviewers
Know something about the business or recruiter that you can make conversation about. Creating small talk at the beginning of the meeting can help set the tone of the interview, build rapport, and take some of the stress out of the situation.
Try a power pose
Last but not least, try striking a power pose for two minutes before the interview. If you’re doing a phone or video meeting, this is easy to do; if you’re interviewing in-person, try it in the car or arrive early and step into the restroom for a moment. Power poses can help increase your confidence and likeability and decrease stress hormones.
Be confident that you will succeed in getting the job
This is ideal, but if you’re worried, this can be hard to achieve. The best way to do so is to stack references of why you’re the perfect candidate and will definitely get the job.
Put up a back-up plan
If you have a plan for what happens if you don’t get the job. Fear works off of extrapolating every negative thing to the worst-case scenario, ultimately ending in these crazy horrible tragedies that never come to pass.
If you put together a solid contingency plan for what happens if you don’t get the job in which you can truly accept the outcome, then fear gets drained of a lot of that poison, and nerves will subside.
The best piece of advice I can give to lessen the nerves before and during an interview is to be prepared. The better prepared you are, the more confident you will be.
Research the company that you are interviewing for
You can start by looking through their company website and learning about their missions and values. Take this time to consider how their values align with your own, and why these values sparked your interest in the first place.
You want to make sure that this is a company that you understand their perspective and what they stand for, all while going prepared with questions for them to the interview.
Prepare your answers to the typical interview questions
This should be both based on skillset and behavioral style. As well as the dreaded “tell me about yourself” question. You are going to want to practice your responses so that during the interview you can be confident, professional and genuine.
When going on an interview, the company is not only interviewing you, but you have to have the mindset that you are also interviewing them.
No one wants to work for a company in which they are unhappy, and don’t understand their true goals and underlying missions. Make sure to go prepared with questions, ask the company the questions you need to know in order to make sure it is the right position for you as well!
Rehearse your responses
The best cure for nervousness is preparation. Hiring managers are looking for people who are confident, competent, and ready add immediate value to their teams.
Practice responding to interview questions in ways that clearly convey how your unique experience and expertise can help them meet their overall business objectives.
We rarely get a second chance to make a first impression. Rehearse your responses with a trusted colleague and you’ll be more confident and comfortable during your interview.
Get enough practice interview
Practicing interviewing is the best way to get out of the nerves and jitters that everyone faces during the interview.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to replicate high-stakes interview with a job you needed yesterday, in a place you don’t know, with a person you’ve just met. However, I find that joining a local public speaking group can produce similar anxiety, gain similar skills, and deliver outcomes.
Many cities have a local Toastmasters group that will practice a “Table Topics” exercise. This exercise gives the speaker a question and allows them 1-2 minutes to stand up, speak on the topic.
This exercise helps to put job seekers in the “hot seat” just as if they were sitting in an interview. It helps to learn to shorten your answers, avoid “crutch words” (“um,” “you know”, “like”) and how to engage with verbal and non-verbal communication in a way that’s engaging.
If there’s not a local Toastmaster group then inviting a few friends to participate in impromptu speaking is a great alternative. Ultimately, the best way to get better at impromptu speaking is to practice impromptu speaking.
Prepare the day before with some exercise and a good night’s sleep
Taking deep breaths is a remedy for anxiety and when you exercise and sleep, you’ll be taking plenty of them. Physically healthy activities can translate into improving mental health and state of mind. You’ll feel sharper and focused. The confidence will be genuine and you won’t feel or appear nervous.
When people are feeling nervous, it’s typically because they fear a worst-case scenario. For a job interview, that would be not getting the job. If that happens it’s not the end of the world. The employer obviously considers you sufficiently-qualified based on your resume to be worth interviewing.
Remember, you’re qualified and if by some chance you get passed over for this position, another employer in your field will have an interest in what you have to offer. That’s the consolation, but the focus going in should be on the best-case scenario, not the worst.
Instead of dwelling on how you’ll feel if you bomb the interview and don’t get the job, try to think how proud and happy you’ll be if they offer it to you on the spot. A confident and optimistic mindset can go a long way.
Have a good posture
People who are nervous or feel unsure of themselves tend to hunch over. Remind yourself to have good posture during the interview. Thinking of your posture is a distraction from your nervous feelings. Also, a good posture conveys confidence and professionalism to the interviewer.
Research into the company and the role you are applying for
While your resume is the first introduction an employer has to your professional experience, an interview gives them the chance to see everything else that can’t be gauged on paper.
When I interview candidates, you can tell right away which ones are prepared, because they aren’t as nervous. Don’t ever walk into an interview without having done your research into the company, its history, and the role you are applying for.
Anticipate any questions that might be asked
Rehearse your answers, and also try to think of any questions that you might have for the company. There are countless online tools that will provide you with common questions, scenarios to consider, and best interview practices. Being prepared will give you confidence and help fight against any remaining nerves.
Employers will look for a candidate with the appropriate background and skills, but also one with the right attitude and personality that will fit the position. Remember to show any prospective employer why you would be a good fit, in other words: what do you have to offer that only you can provide?
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