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How To Beat The Interview Nerves

Published: Tuesday 12th May 2015

A man happy he has passed his interview in front of a panel

Every jobseeker has suffered from interview nerves at one time or another – even the people on the other side of the interview desk. But performing well in an interview means being calm, level-headed and preventing interview nerves from affecting your pitch. And doing that, is all down to one thing – being prepared. Interview preparation will make you feel like you have nothing to be nervous about and equip you with a real sense of confidence – perhaps your biggest ally in any interview.

It’s All About The Interview Preparation

Getting prepared for the big day means a number of things. Start well in advance by going through your CV and revising what you’ve written, so that you can have instant recall when asked a question. Imagine you are the interviewer while you do this. Reading your application, what questions would you ask the jobseeker regarding their work history, skills and any details in the cover letter? Now prepare your own answers to those questions. Just by doing this should give you more confidence already.

Dressing for an interview – Make sure your clothes for the day are ready well in advance. For an interview dress professionally, but dress for comfort too as this will make you feel more at ease. The last thing you want to be doing is rushing to the dry cleaners on the day of the interview.

Be punctual – This is crucial. Don’t be late. Plan your journey the day before and give yourself plenty of time, if it’s a route you’re not familiar with. Turning up late, or even on the last minute, will make you stressed and put you in the wrong frame of mind.

Do your research – It can’t be emphasised enough. No interview is the same. Every company is different, so do your research to unravel what it is that makes this company different from its competitors. What reasons does the company have when advertising for a job? If it’s a new position in the firm, find out why. Is the company expanding? Is it a specialised project? What are the company’s plans for the future? Even if you aren’t asked why you’re applying for this particular firm, you can use all of this information to ask your own questions and show that you’re truly interested and enthusiastic about the role.

Controlled breathing – While you’re in the waiting room, breathing exercises can really help reduce tension. Inhale for a count of two, then hold the breath for a count of one, before exhaling gently, counting to four. Finish by holding the breath out for a count of one. Keep your breathing even and smooth.

Make it personal – When you’re introduced to your interviewer(s), make sure you remember names and use them throughout the interview. It will depend on how formal the interview is, whether you use the interviewer’s first name or a more formal title. However, doing this should put you both at ease and create a more cordial, friendly atmosphere.

Smile – If you’re feeling nervous, smiling can defuse the tension and make you feel at ease, so do it.

Listen and take your time – Nerves can cause our mouths to work faster than our brains. Listen carefully to what the interview says and take your time to formulate a response. Speak slowly and deliberately. Ask the interviewer to repeat or explain the question if you didn’t hear it, or if there’s something you didn’t understand.

Body language – It’s a good idea to stand while you’re waiting in the interview room. It can make you look and feel more confident before being called. In the interview, keep your hands out of your pockets and unfolded. Place your hands on the table if you can where they can be seen as this demonstrates honesty and openness.

Be yourself – We feel more confident when we are ourselves, so don’t put on airs and graces. Just be who you are. Just be careful not to be too informal or too cocky about your fit for the role.

Finally, a good night’s sleep will make a huge difference to your temperament, so go to bed early and get up with plenty of time for last minute preparations. Eat lightly before your interview. Don’t go on an empty stomach, as that won’t help butterflies and could even lead to the embarrassing sound of stomach rumbles.

For more job-hunting tips, visit the Zoek blog or follow us on Twitter @zoekappuk.

If you’re looking for a new job, why not download the Zoek app to let your new job find you? The app for faster, smarter recruitment can be downloaded on iOS or Android.


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