“I know I can do the job - the problem is getting through the interview”
This is a very common and heartfelt refrain. We all know that interviews are not a natural situation and there is evidence to suggest that they are not the best way to find the best person for the job. However, they are still probably the most common way of selecting people for jobs and we have to find a way of making the best of the situation and making the best of you.
There are three essential elements to overcoming your interview nerves and being the best you can in an interview - Preparation, Practice and Fearing Less.
To prepare you need to research the industry, company and the job so when asked to demonstrate your knowledge you know you can speak with confidence. Remember that doing research could well be an essential part of the job you are being interviewed for so show off your abilities by knowing your stuff.
Be prepared to explain any gaps in your CV – in fact, make sure you know your CV inside out and have all of your major achievements ready to discuss. A good way to prepare, remember and relate your achievements is through the SOAR approach:
Situation: Describe the situation.
Obstacles: Describe the obstacles you faced.
Actions: List the actions you took.
Results: Describe the results you helped obtain and the benefits to your employer.
Make sure you have an answer to all of the frequently asked questions hiring managers ask at interview and prepare the questions that you would like to ask too. Check out: http://worksadream.typepad.com/works_a_dream/ for example questions.
Practice for the interview by talking to yourself in a mirror with answers to typical questions such as:
• Why do you want this job?
• Why do you think you can do this job? and
• What have been your main achievements?
Another way to do this is to think about the interview questions you would find most difficult to answer. Write down the three you are most concerned about and outline an answer for each then practice your answers in the mirror.
Ask someone to give you a practice interview using the job description and your CV. This gives you the chance to practice your answers and the interviewer will be able to give you invaluable feedback. Remember the saying that “a bad rehearsal will lead to a good first night performance”- so if there are mistakes to be made then make them beforehand and learn.
Write down your prepared answers and get into the habit of revising. The simple exercise of writing something down helps get it into the mind and there is more chance you will remember it when it matters. I practice using cue cards but your laptop or smartphone are good too.
To reduce the fear, you first have to accept that it can’t be entirely eliminated. It can, however, be reduced and managed to a level that gives you the best chance to perform well. You should also realise that everybody gets nervous before an interview - it is perfectly natural and even the interviewers will be nervous especially if this is not part of their normal job.
By being well prepared and practiced you will feel more confident. There are some other practical things you can do:
Remember when you were confident. Remember a time when you did feel confident about what you were doing and try to remember how you felt. Transferring those feelings can be an enormous help.
Visualise. Imagine walking into a room, being introduced, answering all the questions with confidence and enthusiasm, fielding questions with ease and leaving the room knowing you did a great job to ‘get the job’. Mentally rehearse this sequence with all the details of your particular situation and it will help you focus on what you need to do to be successful.
Dress to look your best. These days it isn’t necessarily interview suit and tie! So try to find out what is appropriate. It is important that you feel good so try to balance what is right for you and the circumstances.
Breathe and pause. When your muscles tighten and you feel nervous, you may not be breathing deeply enough. The first thing to do is: stand up straight but relaxed and inhale deeply a number of times.
Take a few deep breaths before you go into the interview room and always try to pause before answering a question. The interviewers will think this is a sign of your carefully considering your answer- even if it isn’t!
Release nervous energy. Before going into the interview try some simple exercises to relieve the tension. Try flexing and releasing muscles, followed by a deep breath.
It’s worth remembering - you are better than you think you are! It is funny how so often we think we are much worse than the reality. From the other side of the desk you will look so much better.
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