Interview nerves. We’ve all had them. To be honest, if you don’t feel nervous, the chances are the position you’re applying for isn’t that important to you. We get nervous about things because we care about them. So, in that way, nerves are good. But if you’re too nervous, you might stutter, or your mind might go blank at the worst possible time. It’s easy to say, “Be yourself” and, “Don’t worry, everyone gets nervous,” but if you’re in the midst of nerves or even anxiety, these types of phrases don’t help. So how do you stave off those shaky feelings, and appear cool and confident at every interview?
The benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated. But sleep can be hard to find if you’re over excited or too stressed about an important interview. Make sure your bedroom is not too warm or too cold. Don’t consume caffeine after about 6pm and avoid heavy meals. Don’t take your phone to bed with you, as it’s often too tempting to keep reading and re-reading correspondence about the job. Plus, the light from smartphones and tablets has been proven to stop you sleeping. Do something that relaxes you in the evening and get an early night.
One of the worst causes of nerves is not feeling prepared. This can happen if you have a few interviews lined up and haven’t had time to research each company. Don’t take on too much. Five interviews in one week will not only be exhausting, it won’t allow you enough time to prepare for each one. Good research points are knowing the name of the person who will be interviewing you, the company’s core values and thoroughly reviewing the job description to understand which key aptitudes you might be interviewed on. Have some answers prepared, and take a notebook to glance over before you go into the interview so all your information is fresh in your brain.
3. But Don’t Over-Prepare
Once you have your key information and notes, relax and let this information settle in your brain. Going over and over it, or trying to learn the entire history of the company will normally not be helpful. You’ll end up worrying that you’ve not remembered enough, and this will actually make you more stressed, and more anxious. You’re not going to be quizzed on the founding members of the company turnover in 1999. It’s also best to leave your notebook in your bag or briefcase, as the temptation to pore over it during the interview may be too great. If your face is in your notebook, you won’t be making eye contact with your interviewer and building a rapport.
4. Don’t Over Caffeinate
You might absolutely need your morning coffee. That’s fine, but don’t overdo it. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant, and although it can give you a short term ‘brain boost’, it can leave you jittery, shaky and raise your blood pressure and make you feel ill. Coffee is also a diuretic and can leave you both thirsty and needing the bathroom, an awful combination. Having to leave the interview part way through for a pit-stop can increase your stress levels, and if you’re focusing on the needs of your bladder, you’re not focusing on your interviewer and the questions they’re asking.
Drink plenty of water the day before the interview, and have a drink of water about fifteen minutes before you go in. This helps with any dry mouth caused by nerves, as well as keeping your brain functioning properly. Dehydration makes you feel fuzzy and fatigued, and can lead to headaches which cause problems with concentration. The last thing you want is for your mind to be wandering in the middle of an important aptitude question. One drink of water shouldn’t leave you desperate for the bathroom halfway through the interview, but feeling thirsty might mean you have to pause to get a drink, disrupting the flow of the interview. This could end up making you feel more nervous, so stay hydrated to avoid this.
We all have different ways to relax, like a warm bath or a favorite piece of music. Not all of these can be employed while waiting for an interview though. It’s well worth learning some basic relaxation techniques that you can employ anywhere that nerves might attack. Mindfulness is a great habit to learn, which is basically focusing on the moment and letting negative thoughts just roll away. There are plenty of apps that can help you learn these techniques. Another relaxation technique is to tense certain muscles, then actively concentrate on relaxing them. This allows you to learn when your muscles are tense due to stress or anxiety, and consciously relax them. When your body is relaxed, it helps your mind relax, easing nerves and helping you appear more confident and in control.
7. Remember Why You Want the Job
Sometimes you focus so hard on what might go wrong, you forget why you applied for the job in the first place. Focus on the sense of excitement you get when you imagine yourself in this role, and take that sense of excitement and passion into the interview with you. If you visualize yourself in the role you want, you’ll be able to tell the interviewer exactly why you’re the perfect candidate, and what you’ll bring to their team and their company.