February 17, 2014 Leave a comment
Have you been so nervous at an interview that you’ve forgotten your name or what your previous title was? It happens. Have you been so nervous that the cup of water you’re holding is shaking beyond control? Sure, it happens. But it’s avoidable if you go into the interview with the right frame of mind.
Nervousness can overcome anyone, especially those who are being interviewed for the job of their dreams. All the anticipation comes to a head just before the daunting meeting, and then it’s time to perform. Unfortunately some interviewers see the meeting as a performance and not so much as selecting the right person for the job.
Not the best interviewers think this way, mind you. They want to get the best out of you because they want to hire the right person because hiring someone who is unqualified has consequences. It’s estimated that 68% of employers have hired the wrong candidate at least once at the tune of $25K-$50K to make the situation right.
An interesting article, 3 Reasons to Hire Nervous Candidates, implies that introverts (referred to as “neurotics”) tend to be the most nervous job candidates, but that they can make the best employees in the long run—as producers, team members, and salespeople—and backs it up with studies. The message of the article is that interviewers should look past the nervousness of the job candidate because, in the long run, she might turn out to be the best hire.
It would be a great thing if employers understood that nervous interviewees will demonstrate their brilliance upon being hired, whether she be an introvert, extravert, or ambivert; but don’t rely on the employer to operate this way. Some interviewers will base their decision to hire someone or not based on your first impression, which includes whether you appear nervous or composed.
A nervous job candidate, the best you can do is accept your nerves and try to manage them. To do this, it’s important to do a number things before and during the interview.
- Be as prepared as you can. You’ve heard this many times; and if you’re smart you’ve done something about it. You’ve researched the job so you can recite the responsibilities. The same goes for the company. You must go beyond the cursory reading of the job description and company website. Also take time to research the competition and industry.
- Practice. Professional athletes don’t go on the baseball field or soccer pitch without practicing in between games. My valued LinkedIn connection and executive coach, Greg Johnson, reminds us that mock interviews or even practicing answering questions in front of the mirror can help reduce the nerves, as it prepares you for the real thing.
- Get a good night’s sleep. As basic as this seems, being well rested is essential to doing well. Remember the days when you crammed for high school or college exams, trying to mash all that information into one night? Didn’t work too well, did it? Same goes for the interview–do your research over two, three, for days; as it’s easier to remember the information.
At the interview
- Admit that you’re nervous. That’s correct. Make a brief statement about how you haven’t interviewed in a while and “might have some jitters, but I am very interested in the position.” This will explain a slow start until you warm up and get into high gear. This doesn’t give you the right to completely lose your nerves; eventually you’ll settle down.
- Don’t let the questions that are very difficult get to you. There are bound to be some questions that stump you, but don’t lose your head if no answer comes to mind. Instead ask if you can think about the questions a bit longer by saying, “That’s a very good question and one I’d like to answer. Can I think about this a bit longer?” Don’t take too long, however.
- Use your research to your advantage. Whereas some candidates may seem naturally composed and confident, your knowledge of the job and company will be impressive and negate any nervousness you have. Your advanced research will show your interest in the position and the company, something any good interviewer will appreciate.
- Remember you’re not the only one who’s nervous. Come on. Do you think you’re the only one in the room who’s nervous? Many interviewers will admit that they’re also nervous during the interview; there’s a lot at stake for them. They have to hire the right person, lest they cost the company someone who’s a bad fit or not capable of doing the job.
Anyone who tells you interviews are not nerve-racking think you were born yesterday. I’ve had exactly two people in eight years tell me they enjoy interviews. Those are people who must either be ultra confident or out of their mind. Even job candidates who do well at an interview, experience some jitters and recall times when they could have done better, including keeping their hand from shaking while holding a cup of water.
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