How to deal with job interview stress
So, you’ve finally landed yourself an interview for your dream job.
Chances are you’re feeling slightly apprehensive (see also: terrified) about the big day, as every potential interview nightmare plays out in your head.
‘What if I forget everything I’ve ever learned when I’m asked a question?’ ‘What if I trip up on the way in?’ ‘What if I get lost on the way there, I forget my umbrella, get soaked – and somehow lose a shoe?’
OK, these may be unlikely scenarios. But that doesn’t stop you from worrying.
We’ve already covered how to deal with stress during your job search. But here are some of the best ways to battle interview nerves and make sure you stay confident, calm and collected (and/or dry) on the big day…
Relax, breathe, and take your time
To put it simply, interviews are a scary ordeal. But whilst anxiousness is inevitable, it can be controlled with a few simple words – Breathe. Relax. And, repeat.
With this in mind, pay attention to your body language (ensuring you’re maintaining eye contact, are sitting up straight and resisting the urge to fidget) slow your speech down and take the time to think through your answers before you say them. Pausing for thought is always a good idea.
It’s also important to focus on the positives to help you relax. You’ve been invited to an interview for a reason. You’ve obviously done something right. The good news is, they already like you so, awkward interview moments aside, what could go wrong?
Even if (worst case scenario) you aren’t offered the job, there are many ways to take interview rejection as a great opportunity to learn and improve.
Nail your interview answers
Many people make the mistake of trying to ’wing it’ when it comes to interviews.
However, even if you feel the ‘wild risk taker’ approach works best for you, struggling to respond to a question you haven’t prepared for won’t do anything for your stress levels. More importantly, it won’t get you the job.
Avoid awkward silences by preparing potential answers a few days in advance. That way you’ll have a clear enough head to store all your newfound knowledge, and all you’ll have to worry about the night before will be a quick refresh and an early night.
Not sure which questions will come up? Don’t panic, we can help with that too. Download James Reed’s bestselling book ‘Why You’ now for answers to 101 of the most common questions that could come up.
Think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation
Interviews are often as much about finding out whether you’re a good fit for the company as they are about skills and experience. So instead of solely focussing on all of the difficult interview questions that might come up, never underestimate the importance of compatibility.
With this in mind, try to act naturally whilst maintaining a good level of professionalism. Avoid reeling off a sequence of memorised interview answers. Instead try to remember at least five skills or areas of experience that make you a right for the role, and weave them into your answers naturally. It is also a good idea to research the company thoroughly before your interview.
After all, it’s a two-way conversation – not an episode of Question Time. And, let’s face it, nobody wants to interview a robot.
However, there is also such a thing as too natural. A friendly chat to get to know each other is fine, but you probably shouldn’t be sharing intimate details about your soon-to-be ex just yet.
Remember that your interviewers are actually human
Forget about the formalities and remember: your interviewer/s are actually human* so, chances are, they might be nervous too. Imagining them as infallible bastions of professional perfection is often the root of a large share of interview jitters – and can be avoided.
Remember: your interviewers are often understandably aware of interviewees being slightly anxious on the day. They also understand that people sometimes make mistakes so won’t judge you if you slip up once or twice as a result of nerves.
The same applies to video interviews. As most people are still getting used to this new medium, your interviewers will generally be fairly sympathetic to any slight technological teething problems or possible interruptions.
There will, however, be a limit. Anywhere upwards of 100 and you might be on your own…
Don’t overdo it with the caffeine intake
Drinking approximately 17 mugs of coffee directly before an interview might seem like a great idea at the time, but a caffeine overload will often have the opposite effect and could only end up making you shakier than ever.
Let’s face it, the last thing you want is to be frantically fidgeting in front of your interviewers while they assume you’re simply not interested enough in the role to concentrate.
Caffeine also increases your heart rate and can add to ‘sweaty palm syndrome’ (definitely a real thing). Something you probably don’t want to be amplified.
Instead, get an early night before the big day and make sure you’re fully rested and energised without the over reliance on beverages to give you a buzz. Remember: energy drinks are not your friend.
Added bonus: you’ll get to spend more time in bed.
Final thoughts on job interview stress
The main thing to remember about keeping calm during an interview is: don’t stress about being stressed, or you’ll just get more stressed.
As long as you’ve done enough interview preparation beforehand, and you follow these simple tips on the day, we have no doubt that any irrational interview fears will be a thing of the past.
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*This may vary from interview to interview