Personally, I’m not a big fan of being interviewed—the last one I attended was four years ago and it ended successfully. I “performed” well and shined more than I thought; but I was still nervous and couldn’t remember a word of what I said.
Jobseekers who attend my interview workshops nod their heads in agreement when I talk about how nerves can sabotage the interview for any qualified candidate. It just seems to overcome them when sitting in the hot seat. This, to say the least, is a stressful situation.
Stressful is fine. We have to experience stress to keep us on our toes, as well as learn how to deal with it better. Yet, some people have a very hard time taming their nerves at an interview. You talk with them in a different environment, and they’re as calm as a lake in the morning. But at an interview it’s as though they’re about to walk the plank.
I notice it in one woman I coach. She maintains steady eye contact, speaks with a steady voice, and recalls the answers to any question; but she admits that at an interview, this all goes out the window. It’s the nerves.
Here are some ways to get over the nervousness that leads to a stressed-out interview, including some things you’ll want to do before the meeting.
- Realize that the interview is nothing more than a conversation between you, the seller, and the employer, the buyer. Your job is to engage in the conversation. Don’t see it as an interrogation, where you’re getting raked over the coals by Andre Braugher from Homicide: Life on the Streets. Henceforth remove “interview” from your vocabulary.
- Be prepared. Let’s say it three times: prepare, prepare, prepare. This means knowing what some of the tough questions might be asked. Forbs.com recently wrote a piece on 10 of the toughest questions. There are many more, but this sample of questions gets to the root of what employers are trying to determine about you. It goes without saying that you must know the competencies for the job and can predict questions based on meeting them.
- Realize the interviewer has one purpose and one purpose only, to find the right candidate. She wants to get as much pertinent information from you as possible. This means she wants you to relax and answer her questions with clarity and confidence. She doesn’t want you to fail. Doesn’t that make you feel better.
- You are the right person for the job. You’ve applied for a position you’re suited for. If you haven’t applied for the right position, you shouldn’t be at the meeting. There will be other people who applied for the same position and aren’t qualified, but you are. You’ve earned the right to be there, so give yourself a hoorah.
- Prepare yourself emotionally for the meeting between you and your potential employer. If given the chance to meet with the employer later in the day, take it and use the morning to review some facts about the job and company. Take a walk and practice your answers, call a friend and talk about light matter, do yoga before getting dressed, or any activity that relaxes you.
- To further decrease your nervousness, you may want to bring a cheat sheet. Although I recommend against it, some jobseekers use it as a security blanket. An an article in CareerBuilder.com supports bringing a cheat sheet: “Bringing a cheat sheet and questions. There is no rule that says you can’t bring a nice portfolio with some notes and question on it so during the interview you glance down at it,” says Mark Lyden, author of “Professionals: Do This! Get Hired!”. “What should be on the cheat sheet are little reminders of situations (your life experiences) that you may want to give as an example to answer one of the interview questions
I’ll be the last one to say the meeting between you and the employer will be stress-free. I experience the nerves before and during any time I have to speak before a group of people, but I’ve learned to turn that nervousness into positive energy, mainly because I’m confident of what I have to say.
If you are paralyzed by fear and nerves, perhaps you should speak to a professional who can suggest coping skills. Your chance of getting a job should not be dictated by your fear and nerves; you’re the right one for the job, and you know it.