Interviews are enough to turn anyone into a quivering wreck. Unfortunately though, appearing nervous won't work to your advantage. In fact, it might put the employer off. It's so important that you conquer your nerves and put on a confident front. So, short of overdosing on Rescue Remedy, what can you do to quash those nerves?
Preparation is key...
The best way to quell those nerves is to prepare. If you leave everything to the last minute, you're bound to be a bag of nerves at the interview.
Simple things, such as preparing what you’re going to wear to the interview the day before, can make a huge difference. It’s also important that you thoroughly research the company to get a real sense of their business aims and ethos.
Re-read your CV and covering letter, picking up on the areas where they might ask you tricky questions. Make sure you know exactly where you’re going on the day and leave yourself plenty of time to get there (although don't leave too much time - hanging around waiting for your interview will only increase your nerves).
A few days before the big day, imagine yourself at the interview. Think about the kind of questions they might ask and how you might answer them. Also, imagine yourself as the interviewer; what will they be looking for in a candidate? Re-read the job advert, you should be able to get some clues from that, and have a good think about how you can demonstrate the required attributes. Make sure you read our interview questions article to get an idea of the different kinds of questions you might be asked.
If nerves are a real problem, you could even try learning some relaxation techniques, such as controlling your breathing or meditation.
How to avoid falling apart at the interview…
It's worth getting a handle on some interview techniques, such as using the correct body language. Anything you can do to hide those nerves is worth a go. One of the problems with nerves at an interview is that it tends to make your voice higher pitched and your speech speeds up.
Avoid gabbling by consciously slowing down your speech and concentrating on speaking clearly, even if it feels like you’re speaking unnaturally slowly. To the interviewer, you are probably just speaking at a normal speed. Allow yourself a small pause after each question has been asked to gather your thoughts and compose yourself before answering.
Key things to remember…
- You are interviewing the interviewer as well. It's up to you whether you accept the job. Think of it as more of a meeting than an interview.
- It's ok to ask questions during the interview and not just after the interviewer has said: “Do you have any questions?” This puts you on an equal footing with the interviewer.
- Make sure you have all the paraphernalia you need to bring to the interview. Bring a notepad and pen too; if anything, it's worth having a small list of questions written down in case you reach a blank when they ask if you have any questions.
What not to do...
- Don't overdose on Rescue Remedy. Take it the night before to help you get a good night's sleep, but don't glug it down before your interview – it can make you drowsy.
- Similarly, caffeine is not the way forward. If you're nervous already, caffeine will only serve to make you more jittery and unable to concentrate during the interview.
- Don't arrive too early to the interview. Office receptions are breeding grounds for nerves. If you arrive really early, go sit in a café and try to distract yourself. Don't think about the interview.
- Don't wear uncomfortable, ill-fitting clothes. If you aren't feeling reasonably comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing, it will only serve to increase those nerves (although this doesn’t mean you can rock up in ‘trackie bottoms’).
- Don’t dwell on negative thoughts. Rationalise your fears by putting your job interview into perspective. It won’t be the end of the world if you don’t get this job, there will be other opportunities.