Have nerves ever got the best of you in a job interview?
There’s no denying that job interviews can be stressful, but overcoming interview nerves could mean the difference between you landing your dream ethical job and missing out!
So here are five practical steps you can take to overcome your nervousness and ace your next job interview:
Before the interview
The reason being nervous can have such a detrimental effect on how well you do in an interview is because your thoughts are divided between answering the questions and trying to hide your anxiety. By taking some slow, deep breaths and even going so far as to meditate before the interview you can help to slow down your mind so you can focus on the task at hand.
If you have visions of sitting cross-legged on the floor, chanting for hours, don’t worry.
Meditation can be as simple as taking one or two minutes to focus on your breath and still your mind. You can do it standing, sitting, lying down, driving – whatever is comfortable for you. There are some great 10-minute meditation videos on YouTube that you can use if you’ve never meditated before. But, if all else fails, just focus your awareness on your breathing.
You can then practice this again as you are traveling to your interview – on a bus/train/tram, in a car or on a bike!
2) Prepare yourself
One of the main causes of interview stress is being under-prepared. Preparation isn’t just about practicing your interview answers, although that can be important. Preparation means making sure you aren’t leaving anything up to chance. Think about reviewing this simple checklist before your next interview;
- Re-read the position description, your application and CV before heading to the interview. That way if you’re asked specific questions about something you’ve written in the application, you can bring it to mind quickly and answer confidently.
- Practice answering out loud. You might feel a bit silly talking to no one but practising answering out loud is really important. The first time you answer a question out loud you will probably find that you get a bit tongue tied and lose your train of thought. Isn’t it better to do that at home by yourself than in front of an interview panel?
- Prepare your questions for the employer beforehand. You will always be asked in an interview if you have any questions for the panel – make sure you’ve prepared at least one or two before you go in. It has the bonus effect of showing your interviewers that you’ve done your research and you’re interested in the role.
- Plan your route. If you’re taking public transport, make sure you know where to get off, and have alternative options so you don’t get stuck if the buses/trains aren’t running that day. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive before the interview just in case there are any delays.
- Eat breakfast/lunch before you arrive. You need fuel for your brain so don’t go into an interview hungry. On the flip side, try not to eat too big a meal or foods high in sugar before the interview so you avoid a sugar crash in the middle of your interview.
During the interview
3) Memory tips and tricks
The memory institute has some great tips and tricks for trying to remember stories, speeches and even jokes that could apply in a job interview. For example, you might use a mnemonic device like the LOCI method to recall your prepared examples to a particular question. This is where you identify key words throughout an example of your past work and then associate them with various physical locations to aid memory. You then simply take a journey though those locations in your mind to help you recall that example.
4) Take your time
If you’re particularly nervous, take a deep (subtle) breath before answering the interview question to give you time to gather your thoughts. If you think the silence will be awkward you can say “That’s a good question” or “Let me think about that for a moment” to give you time before launching into your answer. It’s okay to take your time, and it’s also okay to ask for clarification if you think you may have misunderstood the question.
It sounds almost too simple, but smiling can make a huge difference to your mental and physical state – even a fake smile can work! According to Psychology Today:
Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off. Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, excited. The feel good neurotransmitters , endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well. This not only relaxes your body, but it can lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
So don’t hesitate to unleash a big smile whenever you start to feel a bit nervous in an interview!