By Gerald Walsh ©
Almost daily, I see well-qualified candidates undersell themselves in job interviews because they let their nerves get the better of them.
For some, their nervousness is minor – like experiencing a dry mouth or shortness of breath. For others, it is more noticeable like trembling hands, a shaky voice, or an inability to think straight.
What causes this to happen?
For most people, interview nerves are caused by the belief that the stakes are high. You may really want the job because it will help you complete a move to a new city, help pay bills, or get you out of a bad job situation.
You also know that if you blow the first interview, you will not likely get a second chance.
While some interview anxiety is good, here are eight tips to control the symptoms:
1. Know that you are a good candidate.
You may not get the job in the end but don’t forget: someone has read your resume and decided you are a person worth meeting. Interviewers don’t want to waste their time on candidates they’re not interested in.
2. Think of the interview as a two-way conversation.
The interview is your opportunity to determine if you like the people, if the salary is what you want, and if the work will be satisfying and challenging. It’s uplifting to know that while the employer is deciding whether you are the right fit for them, you are deciding whether the job is the right fit for you.
3. Be prepared.
This is the most effective way to cope with interview nerves. Coming in with your research complete and ready to explain how your qualifications line up with the job that you’re applying for will make you feel confident. You should also learn about the people who are interviewing you. Believe me, you will impress an interviewer if you can mention something about their background.
4. Eliminate 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 to get there.
Ask a friend, family member, or mentor to play the role of the interviewer and conduct a mock interview with you. Like most things, the more you practice the better you become. Also consider videotaping your mock interview to assess body language.
6. Don’t say you’re nervous.
There’s no value in saying you’re nervous. It will simply make you appear less confident. Remember, a little anxiety can actually be a good thing and within a few minutes you will have worked through it.
7. Wear your favourite clothes.
Choose clothes that make you look good, feel comfortable, and are appropriate for the setting. Believe me, this is not the time to experiment with a new look.
8. Practise relaxation techniques.
We all have different ways to relax. For me, it’s exercise. When I have something important going on, I always go for a run or workout that morning. I feel better and stronger. For you, it might be a brisk walk in a park, quiet time in private, or even meditation. Understand what makes you feel good and do those things before an interview.
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. 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