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5 ways to handle interview nerves
Feeling nervous in the lead up to a job interview is completely normal. But rather than turning up as a jittery mess and allowing your nerves to get the better of you, it’s a relief to know there are plenty of techniques you can turn to.
For quick wins: On the day of the interview, you may like to stick to your usual routine and eat your favourite breakfast and coffee. When the interview time is nearing, go outside for some fresh air and breathe deeply, taking your time to clear your mind and get your heart rate down. If mediating helps you, find a spot to do this to collect your thoughts. Maybe your interview is in the afternoon and you’re able to go for a run in your lunch break? For some people, they need to give themselves a good pep talk to get their confidence up. For others, that pep talk may need to come from a close friend or parent.
No matter the technique you use, the aim is to tackle the stressfulness of the situation and get you to a point where you are relaxed or will be able to handle the nerves when they come.
Here are some helpful tips to combat the nerves before a job interview:
1. Visualise success
Top performers in all walks of life use visualisation techniques to overcome nervousness. It involves running through the interview in your mind ahead of the event. Picture yourself entering the room feeling calm and in control. Visualise yourself standing tall, smiling and shaking hands with ease. Imagine answering questions with confidence and poise, building a good rapport with the interviewers, and leaving the room feeling happy with your performance.
Focusing on the best-case scenario will help you keep your composure in the lead-up to the interview. Your positivity and confidence will show during the interview, and the employer will probably mirror your positive energy. If you’re confident you deserve the job, they may just feel the same.
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2. Practise your responses
Interview nerves are often caused by a fear of the unknown, or concern that you are going to freeze or say the wrong thing. To avoid getting flustered, you should spend some time rehearsing answers to common interview questions. Do it somewhere private at home, perhaps your room, where you can say your responses out loud and make adjustments where necessary. This will help you to feel more comfortable and confident in your ability to provide coherent, succinct responses on the day.
You may also be thrown an unexpected question. See if you can’t anticipate some curveballs and come up with a response – are you happy with what you’ve come up with on the spot?
3. Be prepared
If you don't prepare yourself for the interview, nerves can really take over. Taking the time to prepare for your interview will help you stay relaxed, and the interviewer will be able to tell you’ve put some time and effort in before turning up.
Confirm the name and contact number of your interviewer, the time you should arrive and what you plan to wear. Ensure you have all relevant documents on hand, including your CV and examples of past work. Give yourself plenty of travel time in case you get delayed – being late could lose you the job before you've even begun. Being early will also give you plenty of time to compose yourself prior to the interview.
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4. Take your time
Give yourself ample time to answer the questions as they come. There’s nothing wrong with pausing for a few seconds, as it shows your interviewer you’re digesting and considering what they’ve said. When feeling nervous at an interview, you’ll end up rushing your responses. This will often cause you to miss the point of the question and leave the interviewer struggling to keep up as you hurry through your answer.
Avoid stumbling over your sentences by taking a few seconds to consider what it is you’re being asked. Focus on articulating your answer slowly and clearly. If you forgot what the question was, avoid giving an answer that you hope might be correct. Instead, keep calm and ask the interviewer if you have covered their key points. Don’t forget you can ask questions, too.
5. Silence your critical voice and think positively
Mindset is a powerful thing. Changing the way you think about an interview can have a huge impact on the amount of pressure you feel. A positive mindset will be evident to your potential employer. Be sure to smile and reflect your positivity through your body language too. Rather than thinking you’re being judged or you don’t deserve to be there, try viewing the interview as an exciting challenge to overcome.
Remind yourself of past successes and concentrate on the strengths you could bring to the role. Avoid putting expectations on yourself to give perfect answers, or thinking about things over which you have no control, such as the competition. Instead, focus your energy on simply giving the best interview you can.
Remember, your interview is a conversation and not a one-way attack of questions on you, alone. Make sure you come prepared with questions you’d like to ask the interviewer. That way, you have another part of the interview to look forward to.