Walking in to an interview you can feel understandably nervous. In fact, if you feel nervous not only is that a normal thing but it’s a very good thing! However, many people typically say to themselves, “I wish I wasn’t so nervous!”
If you think about it, most people typically get nervous when they are about to do something important; something that involves being in the spotlight. Take the athlete about to run a race, the actor about to take the stage and yes, the interviewee about to sit down for the big job interview.
Your body is producing chemicals gearing you up to handle what you’re perceiving as an event where you need to be alert and focused. It’s getting that energy all ready for you to use if needed. Ever notice how often the advice you may get to overcome nervousness is to breathe deeply and slow your breathing? That’s to calm down and relax a little; master the body in a kind of mind-over-matter situation.
Let’s look at a few things to give you reasons to feel confident heading in. First of all, and not to sound flippant, but you’ve got an interview! The fact that the list of people this organization has decided to bring in for an interview has your name on it means that at least on paper they like what they’ve read. How many resumes and applications did they get in total? We don’t know and I wouldn’t waste time trying to figure that out. However, whether it was a huge or medium-sized list of candidates, when it came down to the short list, you made the grade. Feel good about that.
Okay so they like the paper you. Why? What was it on the resume or contained in the cover letter and resume that got you the chance to meet with them in person? It was unquestionably your combination of experience and education, coupled with your ability to express yourself well which attracted their attention. That just makes sense.
Okay, so feeling a tad more confident? You should be. Still need more? Of course! Let’s look at the interview to come. From your perspective job interviews are all about getting the job. From the other side of the desk however, job interviews are really about eliminating candidates for various reasons and going with who is left. Some people will eliminate themselves from the process by revealing damaging things about themselves. They may disclose criminal records, primary caregiver roles that hint loudly at needing time away etc. This is something you control 100%.
Watch that first question designed to put you at ease and share whatever is on your mind. “Tell me about yourself” is not permission to relate your life journey, nor your hobbies and obsessions. Look at the question as your opportunity to immediately impress them with how well you line up with their needs. Focus on your relevant education and experience as they relate to the job. If your experience is in the same field, extol that. If your experience is diverse, it still impressed them enough to get the interview so exploit that diversity as not only qualifying you but giving you that broader perspective which will enrich the organization.
They like you. It’s up to you to keep that impression going and this is where the things they couldn’t tell on paper are important. A smile, good posture, good manners, proper clothing, a warm handshake – these are some of the small things that reinforce their good opinion of you or can create doubt in their mind. By being aware of the little things you can focus on the bigger things; like the quality of your answers.
I know people who, having a tendency to be overly serious, intentionally wear novelty underwear to their big interviews. Why? Once or twice during that stressful interview, that pops into their head which causes them to smile and that break in the tension comes across the table as a welcomed facial expression instead of the tense, foreboding look they might have had otherwise. Hey, whatever works.
Getting your body under control is important too. Why is it for example when we say, “Don’t sweat! Don’t sweat! Please don’t sweat!”, our sweat glands suddenly kick into overdrive and we become our own personal rainforest, dripping in a puddle or pool of our own making. If you’re worried about this, baby powder helps – a light dusting on the chest and underarms. Getting there early enough to give yourself the once over in the washroom is good too. Then you can sit back and relax in the waiting room rather than rushing in under pressure.
If you prepared in advance and have gone over the stated needs in the job posting, you should be able to predict many of the key things they will want to verify. This means your preparation was time well spent and you can and should have some confidence in yourself too.
You prepared well, you’re dressed well, you know you’re qualified or they wouldn’t waste their time seeing you. Enjoy your time with them and converse with them, showing some enthusiasm for the job and the opportunity. They actually want you to succeed and show them your best. Let your competition view the interview like standing before a firing squad; that’s their choice!