By Gerald Walsh ©
Most people experience some level of interview anxiety. For some, it’s very noticeable like sweaty palms, a flushed face, or a shaky voice. For others, it’s less noticeable but still bothersome—like a feeling in the pit of your stomach, a dry mouth, or a pounding heartbeat.
Why does this happen?
The stakes can be high in an interview. Getting that job may mean you can pay your bills, complete a move to a new city, or get out of a bad job situation. You may think that if you blow that interview, you will not get a second chance.
This anxiety can really sabotage your interview performance. If you aren’t careful, the interviewer will be so distracted by your nervous habits that they won’t even remember your strengths and qualifications.
Here are seven tips that will help you cope with interview anxiety:
1. Be prepared
Coming to the interview with your research complete and ready to explain how your skills and qualifications line up with the job you’re applying for will make you feel confident. You should also do some research on the people who are interviewing you. You will make a great impression on the interviewer if you can mention something about their background.
2. Rehearse by conducting a mock interview
Ask a friend, family member, or mentor to play the role of the interviewer and pose questions to you. Critique your answers and ask your friend or family member to do the same. Like most things you want to improve, the more you practice your interviewing skills the better you become. Also consider videotaping your mock interview to really see your strengths and weaknesses.
3. Know that you are a qualified candidate
Interviewers don’t waste time meeting people who are not qualified. Understanding that you are a candidate worth meeting will give you a boost of confidence going into an interview.
4. Avoid last minute panic
Take care of everything the day before such as printing extra copies of your resume, figuring out your wardrobe and making sure that your clothes are clean and pressed. It’s also wise to map out your route so you know where you’re going and how long it will take you to get there.
5. Wear your favourite business clothes
We all have clothes that makes us feel strong and confident. Whether it is the fit, the style, or a particular colour, select clothes that make you feel and look good, as well as professional. This is not the time to experiment with a new look.
6. Practise relaxation techniques
There are times when I want to ensure I am at the top of my game, like when I am making a presentation or meeting a new client. On those mornings, I always head out to the gym or for a run. I know that if I have exercised, my body and my mind will feel better. For you, it might be something else. Perhaps a brisk walk in a park, quiet time in private, or even meditation. Do whatever makes your mind and body feel great and you will feel more relaxed in the interview.
7. Think of the interview as a two-way street
The interview is an opportunity to determine if the job is right for you. Is the salary in line with what you want? Will the work will be satisfying and challenging? Will you like the people? Knowing that you are deciding whether the job is right for you—while the employer is deciding if you are right for them—is a great equalizer.
One more thing: Think of past interviews when your level of anxiety caused you to under-perform. If you were doing those interviews over again, how could you have prepared differently?
To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.