Job Interview Jitters–5 Tips on How to Handle Them

Job Interview Jitters—How to Handle Them

If you’re like me, the initial excitement of landing a job interview can be short-lived. As you sit across from the HR rep or hiring manager, you’re nervous, your heart starts racing, palms are sweaty and you start to panic. If this is you, I want to pass along a few tips to reduce potential job interview jitters and prevent your nerves from getting the better of you.

Tip #1:

Do Your Homework

When we get nervous, it’s often because we are unprepared. In the case of an interview, fear sets in when we think about being asked a question that we either can’t or don’t want to answer. One of the best ways to be ready for this scenario is to prepare well in advance. The more you know about your potential employer, the more prepared you will be to answer questions and present questions of your own. One way to get familiar with the company is to go on their website, look around and find out exactly what they do and who’s in charge. Look on websites such as LinkedIn, find the company profile and look at some of their employee profiles—particularly the ones of those whom you may be working for or with. The more you know about your potential employer and their employees, the more comfortable and relaxed you will feel talking about your career, skills and experience and you will be more confident in what you can bring to the table. Also, check to see if there are any recent news stories on this company. Large companies are often in the news if they are planning or executing agendas related to the broader industry, the financial markets, mergers and acquisitions, etc. If you are aware of these things, it shows the hiring manager that you have a genuine interest in their company.

Tip #2:

Practice Makes Perfect

While you may encounter some ‘curveball’ questions, anticipating the sorts of questions you may face can be a tremendous help. This is where working with an experienced recruiter can be most helpful. Practicing how you will answer certain questions (such as a gap in work history or a layoff) will help you to be succinct and confident in your explanation. Rehearsing with a recruiter can help, as this is often your preliminary interview. The tougher the recruiter interview is, the easier the job interview will be. Keep in mind, no one knows better than you do, the “worst” question you could be asked on your interview. This may be different for everyone but to get yourself properly prepared, it’s best not to pretend this question will not be asked. The way to be equipped for such a situation is to ask yourself what is the best thing you can say on that particular question when it comes. By doing this in advance, you will have your own self-empowering, positive agenda. Rather than being thrown off by such questions, you can feel good knowing you have a clear, concise answer.

Tip #3:

Exercise, Sleep, Hydrate

As you’re pondering the questions to come and your responses, consider going for a run or walk in the days before your interview. This will help burn off that excess nervous energy (along with a few calories) and clear your mind as your endorphins are boosted. Another added benefit of exercise is that it promotes better sleep which is something often lost when we are anxious about something. The value of a good night’s sleep should not be underestimated. Staying up late and ‘preparing’ for the following day is not a good use of your time. Get a good, restful night of sleep so that you’re alert the following day. Eating well and getting plenty of water in the days leading up to your interview can only further benefit your performance on the big day. Try to stay away from too much sugar or alcohol which can impact sleep and effect how you feel the next day.

Tip #4:

Don’t Be Rushed

Planning ahead reduces stress! Well before your interview day arrives, decide on what you will wear and lay your clothes out the night before. The last thing you want to do on the morning of a big interview is to stand in front of your closet trying to figure out what to wear or finding that the ‘perfect outfit’ is stained, missing a button or needs ironing. If you have not recently worn this outfit, try it on and make sure you feel good in it. If you feel good, you will project confidence.  It should go without saying that you want to look neat and professional and it’s always best to dress more conservatively. Once you land the job, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to express yourself.

Plan your route to your interview, enter the address into your GPS and set your alarm making sure to allow sufficient time. You may want to build in time for traffic or finding parking.

Tip #5:

Relax, Breathe and Project Confidence

Despite all your preparation, nerves can still get the better of you on the day of an interview. If this happens, try and be aware of your breathing and make sure you’re taking slow, deep breaths through your nose using your diaphragm. When speaking, try not to rush your answers. It’s okay to pause and give yourself time to think. This will help avoid a rushed answer and a shaky voice.

Position yourself in a way that projects confidence and shows the interviewer that you’re engaged and listening. Sitting up straight, feet flat on the floor, keeping your arms apart and hands open shows that you have nothing to hide. Leaning over ever-so-slightly conveys that you’re enthusiastic and want to hear what the interviewer has to say.

Lastly, try to ‘hold the outcome lightly’. By this I mean do all you can to prepare and be your best, but understand that you can’t completely affect the outcome. There are so many factors involved in hiring people. Control the things you’re able to control and let go of the rest, knowing that no matter what, all will be for the best.

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