While you can’t completely eliminate the interview jitters, you can manage them and feel more confident as a result.
Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. It can come in handy for a burst of extra energy and focus, like when you have a tight deadline or are being chased by a tiger. The latter doesn’t happen quite as often, but we are struggling with a “fight or flight” biological imperative when we try to calm our nerves. The “easy” part of your job search: Resume, cover letter, searching all the job search websites for openings, applying for jobs on multiple web sites…most of us know the drill. Some of us, however, spin off into “flight” mode as soon as we get an email or call for an interview.
You add it to your online calendar, write it on your paper planner, thoroughly research the company, set an alarm on your phone (just in case), talk to friends and family, cross fingers, send up an offering to the dream job gods…
BUT, the night before your interview, you can’t sleep. You spend the wee hours imagining every possible scenario—you have the time wrong, you might call the interviewer by the wrong name, you might be overdressed, you might be underdressed, you draw a blank when asked an important question, you forgot to bring copies of your resume, etc. Now you’re nervous and sleep-deprived. Don’t let your nerves stand in the way of the job of your dreams.
You’re familiar with the feeling. Your palms start sweating, you start to shake and for some reason, your mind goes completely blank. Sounds like a dreaded case of interview jitters! Nerves can bring even the most professional candidate to their knees, impeding their chances of securing the job, even if they’re the most qualified. If you know that you’re prone to nerves, make sure you take the necessary steps to control them; before you step into the interview room, not after. Here are a few helpful tips.
Nerves are often triggered by anxiety. It’s common to worry that you won’t know the answer to a particular question at interview, or that you won’t have the necessary knowledge to wow your prospective employer. You can help alleviate this concern by doing your research. Predict possible questions and make sure you know the answers. Feeling well prepared can help to calm your anxiety.
It might be tempting to soothe your worries with several glasses of wine the night before. While this may feel good at the time, it certainly won’t the next day. Have a relaxing bath, avoid too much alcohol, eat well and get a good night’s sleep.
To save yourself time worrying in the morning, lay out your best suit, get some money out if you need to buy lunch, and make sure that all your time on the day is spent focusing on the important task – preparing for that interview.
At the 92Y in New York, Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy fielded a question from a mom who wanted to help her shy daughter succeed in college admissions interviews.
In her new book, Presence, Cuddy says it’s incredibly important to overcome your fear of silence in conversation. When you stop talking, it may feel like you’re relinquishing power, but in reality you’regaining power, partly because the other person knows they can trust you. Cuddy said many people fear pauses because “we feel threatened, and if there’s a pause, it’s like there’s a hole and an opportunity for someone to get in there and take you down.”
She added: “What I see happening with particularly shy people in interviews is that they really rush through their answers. They’re afraid to ask questions. They certainly don’t pause. They truncate their answers.” Ultimately, Cuddy said at the 92Y talk, slowing down and pausing signals “that you feel comfortable, that you deserve to be there, that you respect this interaction, that you’re engaged, and that you’re interested.”