If job interviews stress you out, you aren’t alone.
According to a survey by Harris Interactive and Everest College, 92% of us are anxious about being quizzed about our skills and experience by a prospective employer and 17% ranked fear of being nervous as their top concern.
Even the most confident job seeker can crumble under the pressure of an interview. You might be the right person for the position, but nerves can easily get the better of you and when the panic sets in, all your preparation goes out of the window.
So if you struggle to keep calm before or during a job interview, here are a few helpful tips:
Making sure you are well-prepared is the first step in making sure you are calm and collected before a job interview. Meg Burton, a career and executive coach, advises researching the company and finding out as much as you can by reviewing their website, social media and any relevant news stories.
“Use LinkedIn - check out the interviewees, follow the company, look at employees and look at review sites on Indeed/Glassdoor to see what employees have to say about working there,” she says.
It also helps to make sure you’ve organised the logistics of the interview too. “Plan your journey – think about how you will get there in advance, how will you travel, what parking is available,” Burton says. “Prepare yourself – think about what you will wear that makes you feel confident, new hair, new outfit, new shoes etc.”
Note your achievements and rehearse questions
“Be armed with your success stories – have a good idea of the examples you will use to answer the competency-based questions,” Burton says.
It’s also a good idea to practice and rehearse potential interview answers with someone else, as well as spring-cleaning your social media to make sure there’s nothing there that you wouldn’t want an interviewer seeing.
It can also help to re-read the job description and your CV so you can make a note of which aspects are most relevant to you and your experience.
“Prepare your questions for them – what do you want to know about the company and the role so you know it is a good fit for you,” Burton adds.
Get a good night’s sleep
Nerves can play havoc with our sleep, which can mean a night of tossing and turning until daylight creeps through the curtains. If you can, try to avoid alcohol the night before as this can lead to disturbed sleep. It might also help to avoid laptops and phones before bed too.
Specifically, it is short-wavelength blue light from the screens we watch that keeps us awake, a 2017 study by the University of Haifa found. Not only does it damage the duration of our sleep, but sleep quality too.
If you do struggle to drop off, don’t panic. The Headspace app has some great guided meditations to help you relax when you’re stressed.
In the morning, give yourself plenty of time to get ready and have a decent breakfast to set you up for the day.
Counter negative talk
It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t know what you’re doing, but Burton advises trying to remind yourself of the preparation and research you have done. Read through any notes you’ve made beforehand but remember to give yourself a break so you can go into the interview feeling refreshed and not frazzled.
“Practice deep breathing – in through the nose and out through the mouth to counter adrenaline,” Burton says. “Listen to some calming music during your journey.”
Make yourself comfortable
Most of us feel awkward in a job interview - offices can feel stuffy, our clothes feel uncomfortable and nerves can leave us feeling parched and sweaty. However, there are various ways you can make yourself feel better and help you perform on the day.
“Ask for a drink of water so you can keep hydrated, get valuable seconds of thinking time,” Burton says. “Remove your jacket if you’re too hot and say if you are freezing in the air con.
“Focus on the interview as a conversation – a two way discussion to see if the role is right for you and if you are a good fit for them,” she adds. “Remember to be the real you, be genuine – you don’t have to act.”