Recognise that it’s natural
U.S.-based psychologist Dr Tamar Chansky, author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety, believes that the ‘fight or flight’ response to a threat is totally natural. It’s not a show of weakness – it’s just your brain failing to distinguish chasing a great opportunity from being chased by lions.
“The body responds the same way – gearing up to run or fight for our lives,” says Chansky. No wonder – it’s a high-stakes situation either way.
So here are a few practical tips to make sure you stay focused and calm so you can land your dream job.
Remember: you’re invited to be there
Don’t forget you’ve been invited to the interview. They liked the look of you and think you’re potentially a great fit – now they just want to know more about you!
Plan your journey ahead
Getting lost, or getting up late, not finding parking easily, or just racing against the clock all adds to unnecessary stress. “The focus is on hiding our anxiety and so our attention is divided,” says Chansky.
Take some time to carefully plan your journey so that you can wait five to fifteen minutes for your interviewer to meet you in reception. That frees you up to research the company, gather all your thoughts, then rock up relaxed and ready to go.
Prepare and take notes
Lack of preparation for the interview is often a source of nerves. Don’t get complacent – do your research and prepare your answers to questions about how your skills and experience align with what the client or employer is looking for.
Prepare short bullet-pointed notes to jog your memory for those tough questions, giving examples of your relevant experience. Jot down questions you might want to ask – and don’t be afraid to make the interview the two-way conversation it’s supposed to be.
Do ‘mock’ interviews with your friends
Practice makes perfect for talking your way into a job, so talk through your CV and experience with a friend or family members. They’ll give you the feedback you need to ace the real thing!
Get them to ask the usual ‘softball’ questions, and to ask some tough, sharp brainteasers. Practice slowing down and giving yourself a minute to think instead of blundering in and blathering on.
Believe it or not, the interviewer gets nervous too
Remember, the interviewer wants to make as good an impression as you do, and often they will feel as nervous as you. They’ve been put in the position of selling the company to you, and it’s also a big chunk of their day put aside to talk and field questions.
See the interview as just everyday conversation
Don’t see the interview as a formal process. It’s a normal conversation between people you’re getting to know, so just be yourself. You need to decide by speaking with them openly and honestly whether this is the right role for you.
Go in with a short list of things you want the interviewer to know about you, and how you, the job and the organisation fit together in terms of attitude and experiences. After all, a regular conversation involves sharing aspects of yourself and your experience.
Remember that the interviewer wants you to shine
It comes back to having invited you in for a chat. They’re on your side here. Remember that interviewers want you to succeed in an interview as they’re looking for the right person for the job. It’s time-consuming and often involves making hard choices – so you can help things along.
So breathe calmly, take your notes, be yourself and smile. This is the person that hiring managers want to see, and you’re there for a reason!
Dr Tamar Chansky, author of Freeing Yourself From Anxiety