Nervous About An Upcoming Interview?

First things first; congratulations on the interview! Give yourself credit because you’re up against a lot of other people all competing for employment. So well done!

That credit your giving yourself is important because its external validation that  you’ve done a good job responding to the employer’s needs. Employer’s need people who can be productive and add to the success of the organization, so just getting to the interview is a good sign that they like what they read.

Okay, so you’re nervous. There are two kinds of situations where nerves can have you feeling anxious . The first is where you haven’t prepared at all for the interview. Not only did you not prepare, your plan is to wake up and wing it, counting on your natural ability to charm and think on your feet. If this has worked in the past, it will likely work again. Wrong. Employer’s are better qualified than before, better trained and can size up these candidates quickly. Your nerves will go through the roof as you slowly become more and more exposed as having not invested any time at all in doing some basic homework. You’ll be nervous, and for good reason as you’ve brought this on yourself.

The second kind of nervous is the good kind; yes you read right…there is a good kind! This is nervous excitement! You’ve prepared yourself as best you could, read up on the job posting, their website, you may have talked to some employees and you really want this job. The possibility that you’re soon going to be hired for a job you can do well, doing work you’ll enjoy and in a situation you’ll be successful at is so motivating! So this nervous excitement as the interview draws closer is fantastic.

As someone who loves interviewing, I’d be more worried for you if you felt no nervousness at all – that would be a huge warning sign that you’re running on autopilot and aren’t as invested in the job or company to the extent you should be.

Now, what to do to help you get those nerves under control. First off, breathe… Stress is a physical thing, and a few deep breaths; in through the nose and out through the mouth will help you give your body oxygen when it needs it to relax. Now stand up for a moment. Seriously. Place your hands on your hips and spread your legs, with equal weight on both feet. You’re in the, ‘Superman’ pose. Head up and looking straight ahead, chest slightly out and hold this for two or three minutes. Do this before the interview – say in the washroom or reception area and you’ll feel confidence growing. Odd thing is, it works.

Now, first impressions are important so choose clothing you feel comfortable in that fit the job you’re applying to. Check them a few days before so they are clean, ironed and you’re ready. On the morning of the interview, shower, brush the teeth, do your hair (off the face as a general guideline for women) and give yourself enough time to get where you’re going anticipating delays.

It’s always good to bring multiple copies of your résumé (for you and for them), pre-determined questions you want answered, paper and pen for notes, the job posting and your references to offer at the end. Depending on the job, you might want any certificates or proof of licences and education requirements too.

Smile at the first meeting, offer a firm handshake and look the interviewer(s) in the eye as you do so. When you walk, don’t amble or shuffle along, walk with purpose and be aware of slouching shoulders.

As for answering questions, use the STAR format. Well, I endorse it at any rate. Essentially you answer by sketching out SITUATIONS you found yourself in so the get a framework for your answer, present the TASK or problem to overcome, move to the ACTION you took in rising to the challenge and finish with a positive RESULT that came about because of what you did.

This format is neat, tidy and concise. It will help you PROVE you’ve done what you claim you can do. I can’t stress enough how specific examples you give are essential to a successful interview. Without specific examples in your answers, you’re hoping they’ll believe you’ve got the experience and skills you state you do, and you’ll come up short.

The tone of your voice is important too. Nervous people often talk quicker and their voices are slightly higher. Slow your words down, pause every so often to emphasize certain things you believe are critical, and your voice suddenly gets more interesting, more meaning is attached to your words and the overall impact is a more attentive audience.

As the interview wraps up, ask for their business card. All the information you need to follow-up with a thank you note or phone call is on that card. Do send a card of thanks! Many don’t bother these days and that’s even more reason to do it. You stand out and that’s what you’re hoping to do.

The most important thing you can do is leave a lasting positive impression. Why hire you? What makes you the right fit? Answer this now, before you get to the interview. It’s not about what you want, but how hiring you is in the company’s best interests.

Job Interviews Make You Nervous?

If job interviews make you nervous, here are two things I want you to know: you’re normal and nerves are a good thing!

Some people such as myself actually look forward to job interviews. I see them as a chance to discuss what for me is an opportunity; some for advancement, others for new challenges. The interview is a discussion where I can demonstrate to an employer how my attitude, skills, experience and enthusiasm would be of benefit to them. It’s one way for me to see how I measure up outside of my current role with a company.

If I apply for a job similar to the one I have now, I have to find something more attractive in the new company; the location, the pay, the responsibility or the freedom to be creative. If I’m applying for a promotion or a job different from that I have now, I may not have every qualification. I will have to demonstrate how my transferable skills and past abilities to learn and adapt make me the ideal candidate in addition to my skills, experience and positive attitude.

Any way I look at it, the job interview is a proactive experience; one I have sought out on my own. Learning about other company’s and then seeing how I might fit in keeps me growing and learning. If by chance an opportunity does arise which ticks all the boxes on my, ‘dream job’ list, why wouldn’t I want to be in a position to go for it?

However, I really do understand why job interviews make many people nervous. You know – or should know – there are two different kind of nerves that you can feel going into an interview. One is the kind of nervous feeling you get when you haven’t done your homework. You’re winging the interview, and with every question you feel more and more exposed as wrong for the job, ill-prepared and you’d rather just bolt for the door and wish you had never applied in the first place.

The second kind of nervousness is healthy however. It’s the nervous anticipation felt when the new job is becoming more and more a possibility. You’re now 1 of 5 people they are considering hiring; if they choose you, you’ll have more income, new responsibilities, new co-workers, and hopefully you’re thinking you’ll be doing something you really enjoy. You’re feeling excited, and it’s that nervous excitement that has you pumped up. You’ve done your research, know what they are looking for, know yourself and look forward to marketing yourself with confidence and enthusiasm. Nervous? Yes, of course, but bring it on baby!

Take a professional athlete. They prepare themselves physically by working out. They study the opposition, research all they can finding where they can exploit some problem or weakness. They understand themselves, know their own strengths and know how best to conceal but work on their weaknesses. When they have a big game coming up, they get nervous too, but it’s nervous anticipation. The best of the best want the outcome of the game in their hands so they can perform and succeed.

Now you and I, we’re not professional athletes; not likely anyhow. The analogy works the same way however. If we want a job, a better job, a different job, a promotion, or even a job in an entirely new field from that which we’ve done before, we have to research and prepare. Just as athletes have pre-season games, friendlies, exhibition matches, and try-outs, we could look at interviews the same way. Mock interviews, where we act like it’s a real job we are interviewing for but we’re practicing with a Job Coach or Employment Counsellor are just like those pre-season games.

In a mock interview, you get to practice techniques, make mistakes and learn. You start and stop, stumble and learn, re-start and improve, growing in confidence and growing in the belief that you are getting better and better at marketing yourself. As you grow in confidence you’ll also find that your fear of interviews diminishes. Oh you’ll be nervous going into interviews no doubt; but you’ll feel nerves of the right kind. Gone will be the, “I hate interviews, I wish they’d just give me the job based on my resume!”, attitude. Replacing those thoughts is the, “I got an interview! I want this job and I know I can show them I’m the right person”, attitude.

Nerves of the worst kind can make you dread interviews. “I’ll fail, I’ll be judged, stress!, stress!, stress! I can’t wait until it’s over!”

Nerves when you are prepared can make you feel, “I’m nervous but excited! I’ve got this! I know what to say and I’m ready!”

One key mistake to avoid is only going for interviews when you absolutely have to. Never practicing interviews is like a professional athlete only going to the Championship game without having practiced all season. They’re going to fail miserably and they know it going in.

Advice? Get into an employment office and ask for help with your interview skills. Do some mock interviews. Apply for jobs and get in some interviews BEFORE you apply for the perfect dream job. Practice! When you get that job interview you REALLY want, you’ll have some interviews under your belt, feel more confident and it will translate into a better experience.

Or, you could avoid interviews at all costs. How’s that been working for you?