Interview nerves? Urgh! Nightmare, eh?
I don't think I have ever come across anyone who doesn't feel nervous during a job interview. It's completely natural and is typically worse when you really want the job. So, what can you do to reduce interview nerves and increase your performance during a job interview?
Here are my favourite 11 top tips to reduce interview nerves
They Picked YOU!
It's unlikely that you were the only applicant for the job. Yes, there were probably lots of candidates who were rejected along the way and you have made it to the interview shortlist. Yes, they picked you! That's good, isn't it? Keep this in your mind – you are already a success!
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
The more you prepare, the better chance you will have in reducing your interview nerves. It is crucial to your success that you research the company and know the job description and your CV inside out and back-to-front as these will form the basis of the questions posed to you. Have some questions prepared to ask the interviewer too so that you can slot them into the conversation.
Grab a friend and practise interview questions and answers prior to the interview or use a professional coach (like me!) to hone your skills, build your confidence and give you constructive feedback.
Plan your journey so that you know exactly where you are going, your mode of transport and time it will take to your destination. Make sure you allow plenty of time to get there – NEVER be late or rush to a job interview.
Get everything that you need ready the night before so that on your interview day, all you have to think about is your performance. The more you can prepare in advance, the calmer you will feel.
Once you have prepared fully, sit down (or stand if you prefer) and visualise you performing a great interview. Focus and see yourself confidently answering questions. Visualise you being successful in the actual role. How will you react when you find out you have got the job? What will your posture be like? How will you sound?
Closing your eyes to do this may help, or you may prefer looking at yourself in a mirror. Whatever you choose to do, keep playing over in your mind that YOU ARE successful.
Eat & Drink
Never go into an interview feeling hungry and thirsty. It will zap your energy and no one wants to listen to a rumbly tummy or lips smacking together with dryness.
Oftentimes, when nerves get the better of us, we lose our appetites but you really do need to eat and drink something for fuel to your body and brain. Start small if you need to.
Listen to Music
Have you prepared fully? Great! Now take the opportunity to give your mind a rest by listening to your favourite music. What's good for you? Some candidates like relaxing or classical sounds, whereas some find it more effective to listen to upbeat house music or head banging rock tunes to get them fired up and in the zone. Turn it off before you reach the venue though! You don't want to give the illusion that you are a party animal!
Understand that the interviewer will expect you to have some degree of nerves
The interviewer will expect you to be nervous. OK, maybe not a complete wobbly mess, but a degree of nerves. They will usually ask you some light questions or ice-breakers at the start of the interview to put you at ease. Use this time to relax and put into practise the strategies below.
Did you know that most interviewers are also nervous when conducting job interviews? It's true! It may be their first time interviewing or they may not facilitate interviews on a regular basis, so don't feel natural. The interviewer will want to make a good impression on you and make the correct hiring decision, so could be feeling as pressurised as you.
When you are nervous, your breathing is likely to be faster and shallower than normal. Stop and take the time to do some deep breathing and supercharge your body and brain with oxygen. Try this:
- Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds, then out through your mouth for 5 seconds
- Repeat 3 times
- Now breathe in for 5 seconds and out for 7 seconds
- Repeat 3 times
- Now breathe in for 7 seconds and out for 10 seconds
- Repeat 3 times
Did you feel your shoulders drop a few inches? I thought so. Give them a shake – loosely shake your arms, now shake your shoulders, arms and right down to your hands.
Are you still breathing! Relax.
Now stretch your arms above your head as high as you can. Go right up onto the balls of your feet if you can…keep stretching. Relax.
Repeat this as often as you need to and you WILL feel better.
Slow & Lower Your Speech
Nerves can affect your speech. Your voice will likely be quicker and tone higher. Using the breathing technique above, this will reduce the effect, however, aim to make a conscious effort to slow down and lower the pitch of your voice. This in turn, will reduce your interview nerves and give the illusion that you are calm, collected and confident. Just make sure you sound natural, though! I doubt if you will be able to sustain a voice like Brian Blessed for very long!
Take Your Time With Your Answers
Avoid a question and answer tennis match by taking your time to think about your answers. If the interviewer asks you a question that requires a long or complex answer or an example of a situation, take your time before answering. What seems like a long time to you is likely to be only a few seconds to the interviewer. The interviewer will appreciate that you are considering your response and not rattling off waffle.
Most interviewers will take notes, so use the time they have with their head down to gather your thoughts and take a few deep breaths. Oh, yes…most importantly, listen intently to the interviewer.
Body Language is Key
Think about what your non-verbal communication is giving away to the interviewer. Don't fidget! Keep your legs still, avoid picking at your clothes or twiddling a pen and smile! Smiling will relax you and if you combine this with natural expressions and animated hand gestures, you will come across as more engaging than a wooden or jittery candidate. Practise in front of a mirror, practise with a friend or even video yourself prior to the interview. Yes, you will probably feel a bit daft, but I promise you this will help.
You're amazing! The interviewer and company have already selected you above other candidates and they want to find out more about you…the real you. Just be yourself. People buy people above all else, so make sure you show them how fabulous the real you is.
Do you suffer from interview nerves? Are you super confident? Do you have techniques that work for you that you would like to share? Please leave a comment in the section below. I'd love to hear from you.