12 Ways You Can Zap Your Job Interview Nerves
It’s finally the big day of your interview!
You open the doors of the company, and your thoughts start to freeze, you see unfamiliar faces pass by you.
Doubt starts to cloud your judgment and suddenly the positive attitude from last night is no longer looking so bright — What’s happening?
Interview jitters or nervousness before facing your interview manager is one of the most common causes for employees to lose their composure and fail an interview.
We’ve prepared a full guide explaining the right way to confront your fears and successfully bypass your interview jitters.
HOW TO PREPARE WELL FOR A JOB INTERVIEW TO AVOID FEELING STRESSED
Two conclusive studies by Personal Report of Communication Apprehension in Employment Interviews (PRCAEI) have shown that candidates that demonstrate anxiousness or nervousness in an interview have been rejected over their more composed counterparts.
The study demonstrates that when candidates are nervous they usually have something to hide or aren’t confident in their technical skills. This acts as a negative factor for hiring managers when considering your role in the company’s best interests.
The solution to preparing for an interview lies in the amount of preparation a candidate has conducted regarding the company — the less information they know the more nervous they tend to feel during the interview.
Ensure close study has been conducted on the company’s past achievements and present situation.
Dig out information using the company’s LinkedIn pages and contact former employees if you are able to reach out to them. Feedback from companies are also provided on Glassdoor and you can get a fair idea of the type of company you are applying for.
Once you’ve gotten a clear understanding of the company’s background, you automatically gain confidence and this directly negates nervousness.
Avoid Negative Thoughts
The night before the interview causes negative feelings to creep into your mind.
Embarrassment and failure are among the top reasons for candidates to lose focus on their answers.
Thoughts such as —“This company is my last shot at achieving success and if I fail the interview I am bound to fail in life” will ensure you fill yourself up with negativity before even taking the interview.
Instead, try to unwind the night before and concentrate on preparing for your interview and shut out negative thoughts from forming.
Convince yourself that you’ve got the all the technical and soft skills needed for the job and that you will impress your interviewing managers. After all, they decided to interview you, so you must be important to their position.
According to a study by the Department of Economics, candidates who focus more on work productivity have a higher confidence level than those who focus on the result.
Don’t deny yourself the chance at a job just because your mind makes you feel underwhelming. Remember the times when you solved a problem for your team or when your manager commended you for a job well done.
Happy thoughts lead to confidence and nullify nervousness.
Focus on Success
Keep your mind on the goal of what you desire and nothing else.
Pay attention to your abilities and what capabilities you achieve, by producing a confident display of your skillsets, you negate interview jitters from forming.
Think of the goals you’d like to achieve and your career objectives, know that you can accomplish them by taking one thing at a time.
For now, the only thing you need to pay attention to is how to impress your hiring manager and not on the result of your interview.
Here’s a great exercise that you can practice the night before your interview — Simply close your eyes and visualize yourself rocking on an office chair within the company, the more you visualize yourself being a part of the company, the more your mental state presents itself consciously in succeeding at the interview.
Studies have shown that employees tend to carry positive emotions when they visualize their best possible selves in a given scenario.
12 SUREFIRE WAYS TO ELIMINATE INTERVIEW JITTERS AND ACE THE INTERVIEW
1. Get Plenty of Rest
A well-rested mind is a necessity prior to an interview session.
The ability to memorize directly rests on how refreshed you are.
Hence, a good night’s sleep provides you with all the mental power to recall your preparation and proceed according to plan.
A report by the University of Wisconsin-Madison supports this view that candidates must get their 8-hour sleep before they attend an interview.
The report further suggests that by administrating quality rest, the body and mind increase its concentration levels and therefore is better prepared to answer the questions put forward by the interviewer.
Getting quality rest also improves your personality and you will look presentable at the interview. You don’t want the interviewer looking at your dreary dark circles and going “Did you get enough sleep last night?”
2. Exercise Before the Interview
Physical activity the morning before your interview gets you in a positive mood and promotes blood flow to the rest of your body.
You will be more active throughout the day and eliminate any form of nervousness by feeling energetic.
Here are a few exercises to consider before the interview —
- 100 sets of jumping jacks to get the blood warmed up
- 30 minutes of swimming or 40 minutes of jogging
- If you have access to a local gym, try doing freestyle weights to free muscle tension, this is extremely important in relieving anxiety
- A simple run around your neighborhood for a good 30 minutes should be enough activity to get you prepared for your interview
3. Visualize A Successfully Conducted Interview
By closing your eyes and mentally projecting yourself in an interview room, proceed to create a successful image of answering the questions as per your preparation with no hints of nervousness.
Once, you’ve created this scenario in your mind, you create a mental projection on how to reproduce the exact same scenario in a real-life setting.
What we mean is by enacting a real-life interview and pre-visualizing the interview, you get a better idea of how an interview occurs and can reenact the same confidence in a real-life setting.
Visualization techniques are proven to fill us up with confidence and provide us with positive memory that allows us to stay away from interview jitters.
Here are 2 visualization techniques to consider —
- Meditation – By meditating, you give yourself inner calm and you convince yourself that everything is well with the world if your mind is sound. Practice spending time with yourself and negate all the bad energies from your physical body. This allows you to accept failure as a part of life and remove the paralysis of fear that comes with every interview session
- Receptive Visualization – Imagine watching a movie in your head of the events that are about to transpire in your life. Replaying a specific scene that made you nervous, re-creating the scene where you are seated with the other interview candidates boosted with confidence, lets you remove uncomfortable memories from the scenario.
4. Practice Deep Breathing
The human body is a thing of wonder, it has an inbuilt stress reliever and many of us never bother to use it.
The tactic is simple — take deep and long breaths. Inhaling and exhaling lets our body release all the toxins and helps us instantly relax.
One of the classic methods to disrupt a panic attack is by concentrating on the flow of air by inhaling in and exhaling out.
The longer you hold your breath, the better we relieve stress.
A research led by a team of scientists has proven that rhythmic activity is caused in the brainstems when an individual partakes in deep breathing.
The head of the research team, Mark Krasnow claims that slow and controlled breathing were used by humans for centuries to acquire mental calmness and it was the best bet for humanity during a panic or anxiety attack.
5. Eat Well Before the Interview
A hungry stomach is subject to hunger pangs and your body will lack the required energy to handle the interview.
Eat well before an interview and include plenty of fiber and protein in your food. Fiber helps with keeping the body full for a longer time and protein provides the necessary energy for the day.
Here are 3 recommended foods to eat before an interview —
- Lean Meat/Eggs: Protein helps us release two chemicals in our bodies — nor epinephrine and dopamine. Both of which are known to induce energy and are responsible for us feeling good. So, when you indulge in food such as fish, chicken breast, and eggs, your body tends to increase mental alertness.
- Leafy Green Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables are filled with B vitamins which are responsible for fighting memory disorders such as dementia and increase our mental focus. Vegetables such as beans, sprouts, broccoli, and spinach are great to have before an interview to settle your nerves.
- Coffee: While excess coffee causes negative effects on our mind, a shot of caffeine the first thing in the day before an interview is a perfect drink. The effects of caffeine can stimulate our mind into focusing on the situation at hand and not dozing off. Too much coffee, on the other hand, could cause you to take excess washroom trips, so avoid it.
6. Find a Great Sitting Position
Practice sitting at home with your hands in front.
Different postures lead to different results during an interview session.
Hands should always be in front of you to show confidence and your head should be erect to your spine to avoid slouching over for a bad body posture.
Sit upright with your back straight in a 90-degree angle, this demonstrates that you are confident and are ready to hear out the interviewer. Slouching your back over or demonstrating a bad sitting position can cause the interviewer to have a negative attitude towards you.
In front of a mirror, take a chair and see the best position that suits you and one that you’re comfortable in. Do move your legs often to get the blood moving or your feet will tend to cramp up if the interview goes on for too long.
7. Practice a Stutter Free Conversation
Take a sample conversation and write it down on paper.
Now practice this conversation in front of the mirror to ensure you pronounce big words and your professional abilities in a clear audible tone. Communication is key for hiring managers to understand the type of candidate you are, so practice conversing a lot.
If you have trouble pronouncing big words, use the Thesaurus to get similar sounding shortened words. By using synonyms to switch bigger words into shorter, you become comfortable in conversing with your interviewer.
Stammering is usually the cause of nervousness if you don’t suffer from a medical disorder. Eliminating nervousness using the other techniques combined with a stammer-free communication helps you in communicating much better with your hiring manager.
8. Ensure Your Body Doesn’t Move a Lot
When candidates tend to move their body frequently, it displays poor communicative behavior.
The hiring manager is sure to lose focus on the subject when he sees you shaking your body uncontrollably.
Hence, keep a stiff and straight position when conversing with your hiring manager.
The very first thing you would do when you enter the interview room is to proceed by giving a firm handshake. A firm handshake displays confidence and demonstrates from the get-go that you have a winning personality.
Don’t try to shake their hand for too long just to impress them with your firmness. Practice a firm handshake with your family member or friend to get it right.
Don’t tap or shake your legs when conversing with your interviewer, also always keep your eyes focused on your interviewer. If you have social-anxiety in facing your interviewer, follow Method 1 in the guide below for a technique to help you focus better.
9. Maintain a Steady Response Pace
Don’t waste time describing unnecessary stories that are irrelevant to your professional abilities. This makes you lose focus and you end up stalling which increases your overall stress levels. Answer the questions in short sentences unless asked to describe in lengths.
Talking too fast is a dead giveaway that you’ve got the interview jitters, instead, try to focus on the words that come out of your mouth.
This isn’t a race against time for you to answer quickly, if you feel that your answer is long, shorten it to nice concise informative sentences. Write it down the night before and practice in front of a mirror.
As a rule of thumb, don’t talk for more than 30 seconds at any given time. And don’t let a pause go on for more than 5 seconds or you will end up sounding inexperienced.
Take your time and explain the best professional qualities that you possess.
10. Gather yourself before the interview
The 10 minutes before the interview is precious time that you should utilize to recall your preparation. Recalling all your techniques and tricks that you learned last night will ensure you don’t mess up the interview.
Read method 2 and 3 below for a full guide on how to utilize stress toys or excuse yourself to compose your thoughts.
Don’t engage in meaningless banter with the other candidates, remember they are also gathering their thoughts and composure and by talking you distract them from their mental state. Instead, bring with you a piece of paper that has all the important steps written down that you want to convey to your interviewer.
Recall everything and don’t miss a single important factor about you, any factor that you miss could mean losing the job as the interviewer may think you lack the skills.
11. Keep Smartphones and Other Distractions Away Prior to the Interview
Don’t waste time messaging your friends and spreading the word on social media about your interview.
Be professional and switch off your smartphones an hour before your interview. This allows you to fully immerse yourself in the interview and handle it like a professional.
If there is a television screen provided in the waiting room, you can distract yourself from the interview every time you feel the anxiety settling in.
When you aren’t focusing or distracting yourself, your mind tends to build up anxiety so either spend time gathering yourself or distract yourself by watching television.
It’s ok to listen to calming music but most companies prefer the candidates to be unequipped of gadgets to demonstrate their professionalism.
Again, ensure your smartphone is switched to “airplane mode” as you enter the premises if the phone were to ring or you take a call in-between an ongoing interview, consider yourself rejected for your lack of professionalism.
12. Be Yourself
It’s easy to lose yourself while watching videos of other personalities positively handle an interview.
Don’t try to emulate the person you adore instead utilize the methods on yourself.
The interviewer wants to see you and only you in the interview room, by pretending to talk like another person you come off as a person that is trying too hard.
Don’t try to switch the tone of your voice to sound deeper than you are or any funny gimmicks you saw from a tv-show.
Differentiate between fiction and reality, the personalities in your favorite movie and tv-shows themselves had to do 100 retakes to get the scene right, so the chance of you getting them right the first time is 1 to a million.
Stick to who you are and use your voice. Don’t try to speak like a famous orator — Martin Luther King Jr or John F Kennedy, you aren’t going to get the part for your public speaking skills.
You are hired because the company found you fascinating not for your impersonation skills. When in doubt, — always be you.
METHODS TO QUICKLY COMPOSE YOURSELF WHEN YOU FEEL NERVOUS WHILE WAITING FOR THE INTERVIEW
Method 1 — Focus on the Eyebrow Region Instead of looking directly towards eyes of the Interviewer
Here’s a tip that helps individuals with social-anxiety to focus on a face-to-face interview.
If you feel uncomfortable staring at your interviewer’s face for too long without looking away, practice looking at the middle of their forehead where the eyebrows meet.
This technique helps you to calm yourself without feeling their eyes judging you. This also allows you to practice looking at people’s face for a long time without looking away and breaking concentration.
Social-anxiety usually causes us to look away from the person we are conversing and in an interview session, this demonstrates a lack of confidence to the interviewer.
By distracting yourself from the eyes of the person you are conversing with, you create a tactic that helps you maintain eye contact and increasing your self-confidence.
Method 2 — Distract Yourself with Stress-Relief Toys
Usually when anxious, we tend to bite our nails as this is an unconscious activity.
Biting nails can be a turn off to everyone around us and this demonstrates a person that can’t handle a simple interview session.
So, ask yourself — if you’ve got no chance at landing an interview without biting your nails, how can you work in a team environment for the company?
Bring a Rubik cube or a soft toy that you can squeeze to relieve your nervousness.
Distraction usually alleviates anxiety and when we are focused on solving a Rubik cube or squeezing a soft toy, you will almost never need to bite your nails during an interview.
Method 3 — Excuse Yourself from the Waiting Queue
If you’re waiting in line for your interview, the best bet is to excuse yourself to the washroom and compose yourself.
This method helps to quickly dump all your nervousness without having to hold it all inside.
Many organizations usually have water stations, you can excuse yourself to head on over to the water station and fill up a glass of water and slowly drink it in small sips.
Find any reason to excuse yourself from the queue if it’s a long wait to relieve your nerves. These small walks to the washroom and water stations can reset your anxiety levels.
Nervousness happens to the best of us but it requires significant planning to combat ourselves out of the situation. With the above tips, we are sure you will instill enough confidence the next time you are out on an interview.
Remember, it’s alright to fail the interview by not meeting the expectations of your hiring manager but there is no excuse for failing the interview upon entering the room due to a bad personality.
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