You’re one step closer to getting the job you’ve been wanting. Whether you were approached by a recruiter or sought out a new opportunity yourself, once you move from initial interest from a company to an actual job interview, your first response is likely to be excitement.
However, after the exhilaration wears off, you might start to feel some anxiety. “Will they like me?” “What if I mess up the interview?” “Is my experience good enough?” you might ask yourself.
To quiet down those emotions, you make sure that you’re impeccably prepared. You research the company, mentally rehearse answers, and compose a list of insightful questions to ask.
Still, the morning of the interview, you still find yourself feeling stressed. Instead of beating yourself up for your nerves, rest assured that this is perfectly normal. Take it from me – a corporate psy-chologist who has conducted personality testing and interviewing potential candidates for companies for over a decade. In my experience, most people feel some degree of tension before going in for a job interview.
The key to a successful interview, therefore, is to learn how to manage your stress so that you can put your best foot forward. Here are some tips that will help you to deal with your nerves and come across like a pro.
This one almost goes without saying. As is the case with any situation in which you might feel like you’re being tested, the more prepared you are, the less anxious you’re likely to feel. For starters, be prepared to talk about your strengths, areas for growth, and your reasons for being interested in the job and the company.
Also, since a lot of companies conduct behavioral interviews, you would be well advised to think through the qualities and experiences they might be looking in the role, then come armed with examples from your recent history that you can discuss. Being ready will help you to avoid stress-ing yourself out in the moment, as you struggle to come up with relevant scenarios during the interview.
Pause, when needed
If you do find yourself feeling stumped by a question, you can buy yourself a bit of time by saying “That’s a good question.” Then, take a deep breath (which will calm down your nervous system), take a sip of water, and do your best. Seeing candidates take an appropriate amount of time to figure out how to best articulate their ideas is very common in interviews. Plus, coming across as someone who takes a thoughtful approach to communication is frequently viewed as a positive by employers.
Watch out for your body language
Many of us have heard of the idea of taking up space through “power-posing” and the effect it can have on your confidence level. In another fascinating study, researchers taped subjects into either a straight-backed or a slumped position in a chair. They found that those who maintained good posture reported better mood, higher self-esteem, more energy, and less fear compared to their slumped counterparts. Further, when asked to give a speech, the slumped subjects also used more negative emotion words and fewer positive emotion words. Bottom line? Physically embody the rock star you are during your interview, and your mind will follow.
Remember an interview is a two-way street
When you go in for an interview, it might feel like the interviewer holds all the power, but that’s actually not true. As you’re interviewing, you should also be trying to determine if the job is a good fit for you. Think about it – if you get a job in a company with a toxic culture or with a boss who you can’t stand, you won’t be happy in the long run. By remembering your own level of influence in the interview process – you’ll likely feel empowered. After all, it’s not all about whether or not they like you – you have to like them too!
Try to have fun
Often, when you’re in an interview, you might spend so much time focused on the fact that you’re being judged, that you can lose sight of the humanity of the other people involved. However, if you can see the interview as a simple conversation with other people who have hopes, dreams, and people they love, you can better focus on your commonalities. That will help you to build connections and leave them with a good feeling about you.
Remember, in most cases, potential employers aren’t hoping to approach interviews really critically so they can weed out people. Instead, most really hope that they can find the person they really like, who will be a great addition to their team. Be that person, and your odds of being hired will increase.
Keep in mind some things are beyond your control
While it’s good to feel like you’re in control of your destiny, when it comes to interviews, it’s also important to recognize that hiring decisions are largely about fit. As someone who has been in-volved in hundreds (if not, thousands) of behind-the-scenes hiring discussions, there are usually multiple viable candidates who could be successful in a position.
Frequently, the choice comes down to issues like who might thrive under a boss’ management style, who could deal appropriately with the challenges a particular staff might pose, or less tan-gible issues like different personalities gelling together. When you realize that the decision is not necessarily 100% about whether or not you aced the interview, it can take some of the pressure off.
Finally, on your way to the interview play your favorite playlist to get yourself pumped up, give yourself a pep talk, and remember that the jitters you are feeling are a sign of excitement that you care. Then, follow these tips and go out there and get’ em!