Interview nerves
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How to calm your nerves before a job interview

12 Jul 2017

Have you got a job interview coming up? Don’t let your nerves get the better of you. Jane McNeill of Hays Recruitment is here to help you stay cool, calm and collected.

Whether it’s racing thoughts, sweaty palms or feeling restless, one thing is for certain: those job interview nerves are starting to kick in.

If you could just shake those nerves in time for the interview, you would be able to exude confidence and make a strong impression. However, the clock is ticking and those interview nerves aren’t showing any signs of subsiding.

Over the years, I have given plenty of advice to candidates on the topic of interview nerves, and what they need to remember in order to stay calm.

In this piece, I would like to share some of these insights with you, hopefully helping you to overcome your interview anxiety, giving yourself the best chance for success.

Talk to your recruiter

Picking up the phone and speaking to your recruiter is a great way to start calming your nerves. Is there anything playing on your mind about this opportunity? Any questions that need answering? Any information about the company that you’re not 100pc sure of?

Your recruiter will know their client very well, so give them a call to help put your mind at ease. They had enough faith in you to put you forward for the role. Speaking with them again might just give you the confidence boost you need.

Practise what you want to say

Interview nerves can often be prompted by the fact that you need to talk about yourself for the best part of 45 minutes. This doesn’t come naturally to everyone and, understandably, this can be a bit daunting.

If this sounds like you, then practise answering some common interview questions about your background, your key skills and attributes, and why you think you are right for the job. Your recruiter can provide you with practice interview questions.

If you can get someone to ask you practice questions, listen to your answers and give you feedback, even better. This will help you feel comfortable when talking about yourself to others, making the prospect of doing it in the interview room seem far less scary.

Picture positive outcomes

Negative thinking can send the best of us into a downward spiral of anxiety, and this is not the right mindset to be in before an interview.

Give yourself a pep talk, believe in yourself and remember all that you have achieved so far in your career. Now try to mentally visualise positive outcomes, from building up a good rapport with the interviewer to delivering great answers that set you apart. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking, especially when it comes to your career success.

Change your perception of the interviewer

I have seen candidates get intimidated by their interviewers before they have even met them on the day. This is often because they are picturing a mysterious, powerful decision-maker whose opinion counts for everything. Thinking in this way is enough to get anyone’s interview nerves going.

Let’s get the mystery element out of the way first. Look the interviewer up on LinkedIn and put a face to the name. Check out their career journey, and realise this person was once in your shoes, sitting on the other side of the desk feeling nervous.

Remember: the power is in your hands, too

In any job interview, there is a balance of power. Yes, this interviewer may be more senior to you, and yes, you may really want to impress them because you are very keen on this opportunity, but this feeling is somewhat mutual. The interviewer needs to attract the best talent and preserve their organisation’s reputation. Impressing you in the interview room is one surefire way to do this.

When you think of it this way, the interviewer is less a scary, enigmatic stakeholder, and more a human being who wants to present the company and the opportunities on offer in the best light possible, whilst getting to know more about whether you are suitable for them.

See the interview as a conversation

An interview is not a lengthy interrogation during which the interviewer is trying to trip you up or make you look bad. They simply want to have a conversation about your skills, attributes and experience, as well as what you already know about the organisation, why you want to work there and how your style of working fits theirs. As long as you have prepared to talk about all of these things, you shouldn’t have anything to be nervous about.

Look after yourself

This positive, rational and optimistic type of thinking will be much more easily achieved if you remember to look after your physical health in the lead-up to your interview.

Get some exercise; the endorphins we produce when we move around are scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Eat well, steer clear of alcohol, caffeine and junk food, and get plenty of rest. Having a healthy body goes hand in hand with having a healthy mind, and can act as the perfect supplement to reducing your interview nerves.

Finally, don’t forget to keep things in perspective. Of course you want this interview to be successful but, in the grand scheme of your career, you will still get to where you want to be even if you aren’t successful in securing this particular role.

So, remember: do all you can to quell your interview nerves but don’t send yourself into a frenzy thinking this interview is the be-all and end-all. Fingers crossed that it will be a success but, if not, it was good practice for your next interview.

By Jane McNeill

Jane McNeill is managing director of both New South Wales and Western Australia at Hays Recruitment.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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