10 Ways to Beat Interview Nerves
30th January 2023
The interview’s looming and the nerves are starting to jangle.
So how can you keep yourself calm and ensure that come to the interview, you’re able to perform? We asked Team ZD for their top tips.
Control what you can
A great part of the fear of an interview comes from not knowing what to expect. No one likes to feel out of control, but there’s actually plenty about the interview day that you can control and we explore several of them below. As the interview approaches, make sure you box off all the elements that are under your control, so that what’s left feels so much smaller and more manageable.
Visualise the questions
One of the biggest unknowns of any interview is what questions your interviewer will throw at you. And yet, when you think about it, that’s not really true, is it? No, you may not know the exact questions in every detail, but you have the job spec, your CV or application form, and you’ve done your research about the company.
Based on the information you have and what you know about the job and employer, you could probably write down six questions you’re likely to be asked and chances are you’ll be in the right ballpark with most of them. Do your research online and you might be able to find information from recent interviewees about the sort of questions they were asked.
Practice your answers
Once you have a set of questions, prepare your answers. This isn’t about memorising a script—you’ll need to be flexible so that you can twist the answer you’ve prepared into the format of the specific question—but it is about having a plan of action to tackle each question and ensuring your thoughts come out in the right order. Think about the main points you want to make and perhaps the data or examples that support your points.
Say your answers out loud. You might find it helpful to run a mock interview with a friend and get their feedback. Get used to saying the words in a concise, to-the-point way. When you know you have some great answers prepped you’ll find the nerves jangle much less.
Prepare your ‘get stuck’ strategy
What if the interviewers ask you something waaay outside the material you’ve prepped? What if your first reaction is ‘I have no idea’ and you feel your palms getting sweaty and your face reddening?
You can prep this too. Or at least, you can prepare how you’ll deal with the situation, which could be something like:
Take a moment. Breathe. Have a sip of water while you think. It’ll buy you time.
You might find an answer comes to you. If it doesn’t, think about ways around the question:
“I haven’t had that experience, but if I did, I imagine I would…”
“It’s not exactly the scenario you describe, but I have had success in…”
Ask for help: “I’m not sure how to answer that – could you expand on your question a little?”
Plan your journey
A huge part of controlling the controllable is making sure you reach the interview venue in good time and in a stress-free way. Book travel tickets in advance. In the days leading up to the interview check for travel disruption. If bad weather/strikes/protests risk causing chaos, you might want to consider booking a hotel near the interview location and getting there the night before so you remain in control of the situation.
Plan your outfit
Wear what gives you confidence, and make sure everything is washed, ironed and ready for the big day. You don’t want to be frantically searching the washing basket for your favourite shirt on the morning of the interview.
Know your value
Another common cause of interview nerves is the fear of being ‘found out’, the idea that you’ll be asked something you should know, but don’t.
Counter that, and calm the interview nerves that stem from it, by reminding yourself of all the reasons you’re an excellent candidate for the job. Think about your experience, your successes, your qualifications and the examples you can bring to the table of occasions when you made a real positive difference.
See it from the interviewer’s side
Let’s switch perspectives. Your interviewers want you to succeed. They want you to be able to present the best version of yourself because that makes their job so much easier. You’re probably not the first nervous person they’ve seen today and they’ll know that putting you at ease and building rapport is in their best interests as well as yours.
Take the pressure off
You want this job. Of course, you do. But there’s a difference between wanting it in a way that enables you to show enthusiasm and energy and wanting it so much that it paralyses you with pressure and fear.
This job really isn’t the end of the world. It matters, but it doesn’t matter that much.
Be a little kinder to yourself, take the pressure off just a touch, and you may well find your interview performance is a little more relaxed, a little more genuine… and a little more successful.
Use your recruiter
The beauty of working with a recruiter (like us) is that they’re primarily working for the company that’s doing the recruiting.
This seems a strange thing to say when this is a post about you and your interview nerves. But it’s true.
It’s in the recruiters’ interests to deliver candidates at interviews who perform well. So take advantage of the fact your recruiter knows exactly what their client needs and pump them for the expert insights that can help give you an edge – and calm those interview nerves.
Can we help you show what you’re really made of at your next interview? Let’s have a chat.
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