Whether you are usually a confident person or not, interview nerves can get the better of any of us. Going for an interview when you’ve just returned from maternity is even more daunting. I had several when I first returned to work, and there were at least two where I wondered how I even found the room and wore shoes I was that exhausted. Thankfully I have managed to keep my nerves in check, thanks to a very successful career in recruitment coaching others through them.
If you are going for new job or a promotion, then keep some of these top tips to beat interview nerves and perform well under pressure. I’m not going to say “just relax” as I’m sure you just would if it were that easy.
1.Plan and prepare
You won’t feel in the hotseat quite so much if you anticipate questions they might ask and what you might say. Talk to yourself in your bedroom, practice with a partner, scribble Q&A on a pad. Whatever works for you, but know your application form and the job specification. Anticipate the bits of your experience that they may want to probe further. If you lack particular experience in an area, practice you “I haven’t done that previously, but I have done this which is very similar and this is how I approached it” etc.
Research the company and role a bit in advance and have two or three questions you can ask them in the end. Avoid questions about work pattern or pay. Ask about their plans for the future, how the role might develop, what projects are they most excited about… you get the idea.
2.Wear thin layers
Don’t opt for bulky clothing whatever the weather is like. You’ll feel uncomfortable and if you begin to get sweaty you’ll feel even worse.
This might sound crazy but a former colleague told me she did this for work when her children were young. It would be impossible to get through breakfast and out of the house without some form of spit up or sticky stuff on her. Best to pop a big oversized shirt over your frock and whip it off before you get out of the car. Basically you’re creating a housecoat. Why get stressed by noticing that bit of banana mushed into your shoulder?
3.Get there early
Allow 30 minutes more than you think you need. You are better off taking a walk around the car park, than getting your knickers in a knot because you’re lost.
4.Remember you can do this job
Interviews aren’t about persuading a company you can do the job. If they didn’t think you could do it already, then you wouldn’t get through the door. The interview is about showing them you can do it better than anyone else. Give yourself a pep talk the few days before you go and write down some thoughts about why you are the best person for the job.
5.Practice your posture
Ever heard of the superhero pose? When you stand tall, you chin tilted, your feet apart but firmly planted, with your hands to your side, or on your hip, a wonderful thing happens. Neurological and physiological things happen and you feel better. You also perform better. If you watch Greys Anatomy you might have spotted the surgeons doing this before a major operation, but the idea has been around a while. I did it before my cesarean and honestly it worked! Do it in the toilet if you have to, It’s called power posing if you’re interested.
Another fake it till you make it idea. If you smile, people smile back. Unless it’s Jack Nicolson in The Shining, someone smiling at you normally makes you feel good. Feel good, don’t feel so nervous. Smile at the receptionist. Smile at the interviewer and offer a firm handshake.
7.Have a glass of water
Politely decline a hot drink and ask for a glass of water instead. Hot drinks will make you flush and even if you’re not nervous you might look it. Take the water but don’t drink it all in one go, you’ll just need to pee.
8.Sip the water
My top tip of all time. When you’re in the interview, take a sip of your water if you get asked a difficult question, or the killer one that you know will either get you the job or lose it. It will create an extra second or two for you to compose your thoughts before you give your answer
9. Accept you will feel stressed
Interviews are an artificial situation and it’s only natural that you feel uncomfortable, particularly if it’s a job you really want. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
10. Don’t be afraid to clarify
I’m a waffler. I can’t help it sometimes and when I’m sleep deprived I’ve even been known to forget what the question is or what my original point was. If you feel you are going off point, don’t be afraid to take a moment and then redirect. If you don’t feel you understood the question, ask them to clarify. Don’t attempt to answer a question when you’re unsure what they mean.