We all have anxiety. It gets us out of bed in the morning and working on that term paper before it’s due. Sometimes though, anxiety gets in the way of the important things we need to do, like acing an important job interview. Your palms get sweaty, your voice starts to shake and crack, you’re rambling on at a mile a minute, and before you know it, you’re apologizing to the interviewer and berating yourself for doing a terrible job.
If you’re an anxious interviewer, relax! Almost everyone gets nervous about interviews, even the interviewers! Here are 7 quick tips to calm your nerves, and help you do your best during an interview.
Preparation is the name of the game. Knowing ahead of time what to expect can be very reassuring, so do your research! Research the company, and the people interviewing you. Visit the building where you will be interviewing before hand so you don’t get lost the day of. Know exactly how long it will take you to travel there, and plan to get there early. Get eyes on the room you’ll be interviewing in, if possible.
The night before your interview, lay out your clothing to avoid any frantic scrambles to get out of the door in the morning. Have a note pad or portfolio with a pen and copies of your resume ready to go. Make sure your phone is charged or you have a reliable way to contact the interviewer in case something goes wrong. Get a full night’s sleep, and eat a light meal (without onions or garlic) beforehand. Keep some breath mints in a pocket or in your vehicle, just in case!
2. Practice answers and your handshake.
Use a friend or your campus career coach to do a few mock interviews. Rehearse possible questions and practice speaking in a calm, measured voice. Prepare some anecdotes of situations where you demonstrated your skills and achievements. If the interviewer asks about a time you had to make a difficult decision, you don’t want to fumble trying to think of a good example on the spot: have one ready to go! Almost all interviewers inevitably ask something along the lines of “tell me a little bit about yourself.” Have an elevator pitch ready to go: a 60-90 second summary of who you are, where you’re coming from and where you hope to go as it relates to the position you’re applying for.
A good handshake will make a great first impression. Greet your interviewer with a smile, eye contact, and an extended right hand. Firmly grasp their hand and shake once or twice while introducing yourself. Practice your handshake with a friend or campus career representative.
3. Try a power pose.
Think Wonder Woman or Super Man: feet shoulder width apart, shoulders squared, and hands on hips. The super hero pose and other open poses (the body is stretched and taking up as much space as possible) increase testosterone and lower cortisol in the body, increasing the feeling of calm empowerment. Find a private area, like the bathroom, and try a super hero pose for a couple of minutes before an interview. See if you don’t feel calmer and more confident.
4. Be yourself. Be authentic.
The interview is as much about your qualifications as it is about your personality. The employer wants to get an idea of who you are, and how well you’ll fit into their workplace. Is this someone who will work well with my other employees? Is this someone who understands the work environment we’re trying to build here? Is this someone I wouldn’t mind getting coffee with?
The last thing you want to be is super rigid or formal in an interview; you’re giving the interviewer nothing about who you really are. Smile. Be personable and genuine. Don’t be afraid to crack a joke or laugh if it’s appropriate. Be a human, not a robot!
5. You’re not the only one in the hot seat.
The interview is a two way street, and you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. Is this really a place you want to work? If these are your future coworkers, will everyone work well together? Is this really the best fit for you?
The interview is not a test. Both sides are comparing notes and working towards the same goal: to fill a need. You need a satisfying career as much as they need a person to fill a role and manage responsibilities. Going in with the mindset that everyone is working together rather than at cross purposes can calm your nerves a great deal!
6. Get out of your own head!
It’s happened to all of us: you stumble over a word or make a minor mistake answering a question. Instead of accepting the goof, and moving on with the interview, you focus on it. “Why did I say that?!” “I can’t believe I couldn’t remember that word!” “Did I pronounce his name right?” and you get so wrapped up in the conversations in your head, you miss a whole question! Now you’re so worked up and making yourself more anxious, you can’t concentrate on the conversation, which only makes you more nervous!
Whoah! Relax! Don’t make mountains out of your mole hills. Instead of focusing on your missteps, stay in the moment and be present with the interviewer. Listen intently to the interviewers questions and resist the urge to micromanage all of your responses and actions. Ask for clarification if you need to, and take time to gather your thoughts before answering.
7. Boost your confidence by going to more interviews.
The best way to practice your interviewing skills is to go to interviews. Throw yourself into it! Make the whole process routine, and you’ll find your own rhythm and techniques to do your best.
Best of luck on your next interview!