"I feel sick when I walk in to an interview, my voice sounds unsteady when I speak and every so often my mind goes a compete blank when I'm asked a question that is unusual or that I didn't expect. I'm okay when I settle down, so what can I do to be like that all of the time?"
This was a question I was asked in a group training session the other day but it crops up quite often. If the truth be told, many people feel like this at interviews a lot of the time. I remember to this day my very first 'professional' interview and my toes still curl with embarrassment every time I think of it. My voice shook, my head was empty, I thought I was going to be sick on the desk and I did seriously contemplate running for it. So what can you do?
Most importantly, keep a sense of perspective - it's an interview, not a firing squad. Also, the nerves can help you to perform better so use them to your advantage. Try remembering:
- Be confident, not cowed. You were invited to attend, they already like you. When you walk into the room act confident, you'll begin to feel that way for real.
- Rehearse beforehand. Guess the questions they'll ask, write down the answers you'd want to give and remember them. They'll come back to you very easily at interview, even if the slant on a question is slightly different.
- Smile, nod and use eye-contact. This all does two things for you - it lifts your own spirits (strange, but it works) and it tells the interviewer you're on the same page as them, you agree with them and you like them. Obviously don't grin like a maniac at every question that comes your way, but use it often and mean it.
Think about these tips, play with them and develop an approach that works for you. I personally use the ABC technique, as follows:
- 'A meeting'. I think of it as a meeting to see whether both sides are compatible, not 'an interview'. It de-stresses me by putting some of the control and decision making back with me.
- 'B an actor'. I think of myself playing a part and being the person I want to be. I make that person be the same as the person I think they want me to be. Again, I find it de-stressing.
- 'C a benefit'. I think about the reason I'm there in terms of the benefits I expect as a consequence of being successful. Not the money, the benefits that come from that. For example, success might mean better holidays, more free time, a better car, treats for the kids, etc. etc. Keeping those at the back of your mind helps you to stay positive and avoid the effects of the nerves.
So, find out what works for you and develop it into a winning formula. If you have any very specific problems, please email me using firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll try to help.
Good luck with your interview.
Keywords: Job interview, nerves, de-stressing, ABC technique, body language, rehearsal, interview preparation