Interviews can be a walk in the park for some people, and the sum of all fears for others. Wherever you are on the scale, you’re likely to experience some nerves in the lead-up to your interview, and this is completely normal. Interviews can throw you out of your comfort zone, and there’s a lot at stake – you really want that job right? The good news is there’s plenty of simple tips to grow your confidence and make sure you give your best on the day.
There are three main areas you can focus on to help banish your nerves:
The list is by no means exhaustive, but these priorities will help you prepare ahead of the interview, so you feel confident and at ease.
• Research the company: Get a head start and research the organization ahead of your interview to gain a better understanding of their expectations, putting your mind at ease. Use sources such as:
o The company website
o Google News
o LinkedIn and other social media platforms
Look out for information such as company values, locations, news such as expansions and acquisitions, and accomplishments such as awards or new partnerships.
• Revisit your CV and application: It’s important to refresh your memory on what you’ve already shared with the recruiter or potential new employer, especially if you’ve applied for several roles. It’s also a good way to keep your suitability for the role top of mind – your CV and application should have set out the key skills and experience which make you a great candidate, so use this to reassure yourself. Many employers will also structure the interview around your CV and application, so be ready to answer questions on your skills, qualifications and work history.
• Plan your route: This might sound obvious, but a last-minute scramble through your emails to check the interview location will do nothing to ease your nerves. Don’t assume the interview will be at Head Office – check the location carefully and plan your route, allowing extra time for traffic or public transport delays and closures.
• Check the interview format: Will you be attending a group interview, assessment day, or a standard, competency-based interview? Check these details ahead of time so you can prepare properly.
• Find out who you’ll be meeting: Depending on whether it’s a first interview or further in the process, you might be meeting with different people in the business – from HR, to your potential line manager, a recruiter, or senior management. If you are told in advance, put the knowledge to good use and look them up on the company website or LinkedIn. Wouldn’t you be impressed if a candidate had taken the time to find out a bit about you, such as your time in the business, your specialisms and professional interests? LinkedIn is a great source for information like this, and knowing a little more about who you’ll be meeting can help with nerves on the day.
• Prepare your questions: Impress the interviewer by having some well-thought out, insightful questions ready. You’ll usually get to ask your questions towards the end of the interview, and having a couple
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prepared already means you won’t have to worry about being put on the spot. You might think of some additional questions during the interview – note them down for when you get the chance to ask them. ‘What does success look like here?’ and ‘How would you describe the working culture?’ are sensible questions that show how invested you are in joining the company, and will give you a good idea of what to expect. Try to avoid first asking questions about salary, annual leave and other forms of compensation; it can create the impression that you prioritize your financial gain over the company’s objectives. Avoid ‘yes/no’ questions, or ones you should already know the answer to - such as, ‘What does your company do?’.
Next, it’s practice (makes perfect, right?). As part of your preparation ahead of the actual interview, you should practice how you’ll respond to tricky questions, the ways you can communicate your relevant skills and experience, and even your handshake.
• Ask a friend to interview you: Rope in a friend to put you through your paces, in a mock interview. It’s a great way to build your confidence and can highlight any focus areas you need to brush up on before the real thing.
• Practice using the STAR response to questions: STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result – use this technique to answer behavioural-based interview questions, where you are asked about previous work experiences in order to assess your competency for the role. Behavioural questions may start with ‘give me an example of…’, ‘tell me about a time when…’, describe a situation where you’ve had to…’. Practice structuring your responses using the STAR method, so you can provide concrete examples and evidence that you have the skills and experience they’re asking for.
It’s easy to overthink your body language, and you don’t want to come across unnatural or trying too hard – but it is a good idea to think about how you come across in an interview setting. Here’s some pointers:
• Initiate the handshake: There’s no need to wait for the interviewer to initiate the handshake – if you get the chance, go ahead first – it shows that you’re confident, excited to be there, and ready to start the interview.
• Use eye contact: Not enough eye contact, and you can come across insecure or disinterested – too much is uncomfortable. Maintain a good level of eye contact with the interviewer, and if there’s more than one person in the interview, make sure you engage with them too.
• Pay attention to your posture and positioning: Sitting up straight shows you’re energised and excited to be there. Avoid slumping in your seat or leaning backwards – you don’t want to seem lazy or like you’re struggling to stay awake! Try to avoid crossing your arms; instead, keep them on your lap or on the table, and it’s also fine to use your arms and hands to emphasize what you’re saying. Don’t go too wild – try it in front of a mirror or friend while answering an interview question and it’ll start to feel more natural.
• Smile: A big smile as you enter the interview tells the interviewer you’re friendly and approachable. Remember, personality and culture fit are really important when hiring for a role, so your potential new employer will be looking for a positive attitude in their candidate. Smiling also oozes confidence, and confidence tells employers you’re likely to be a strong leader, one of the top attributes employers are looking for.
Interviews. We’ve all been there and we know they’re not fun. But just remember: thousands of people sit interviews every day and come out the other side relatively unscathed.