If you have been invited to a job interview and you have either been looking for a while, or this is your dream job, you might be feeling jittery, and have butterflies in your stomach. After all – this interview could change your life!
If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. Whether you’re a CEO, software engineer, branding guru, or even HR Manager, the reality is that even the best-prepared job candidate can get nervous and come across as a blubbering idiot. Back before I was an entrepreneur and business owner, job interviews would give me stage fright and as a natural introvert, I still find myself with clammy palms before a big presentation.
Looking back, some of the best job interviews I had, was when I did not really need the job. With an almost cavalier attitude I enjoyed the job interview and came across as personable and confident. Likewise, when the interview mattered (in my head anyway), I became a bumbling idiot.
So how to you calm the nerves, avoid stage fright, and perform like a super star?
Practice makes perfect
One key way you can overcome nerves, is being prepared. If you are prepared, you are more likely to deliver a compelling and poised interview performance.
Undertake some background research, so you can focus on the needs and exact requirements of employers. You can even gather information about those that could be potentially interviewing you, so there are fewer surprises on the day.
Polish your basic message, so you get your skills, competencies, and other qualifications down pat, so you can comfortably answer any questions related to your skills.
Prepare answers to some of the more general interview questions, such as:
- Where to you see yourself in 5 years time?
- Why do you want this job?
- What are your weaknesses?
Before going to the interview visualise success. This method is a tried-and-true method used by professional athletes like Tiger Woods, Novak Djokovic, and Michael Phelps. Whether an athletic performance or performing like a super star at a job interview, the idea is that you are creating the neural networks (or brain pathways) of success, which will calm your nerves. It’s like a mental dress rehearsal. Practice makes perfect, even when the practice is only in your head.
Smile & laugh before entering the building
If you smile and laugh before you enter the building, neurotransmitters called endorphins are released and they will make you feel less stressed. The beauty about this tactic is that the brain cannot differentiate between real or fake, as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way. Whether we feel like it or not, we will feel happier and more relaxed.
You should also enter the interview room smiling, as smiling will make you appear more approachable. This behaviour is contagious and straight away, there will be a more positive effect on the room, which will help ease, your nerves.
Don’t think of the job interview as a ‘do or die’ scenario
The #1 reason why people get nervous is because of fear.
- Your fear of failing or stuffing the interview up.
- The fear that if you don’t succeed at this interview, there won’t be any more opportunities for you, ever again
- The fear that you will make an idiot of yourself.
- The fear that you won’t be taken seriously.
If you think this way, your nerves are going to be at boiling point. You must give yourself a reality check. For example: the fear that if you don’t succeed at this interview – there won’t be any more opportunities ever?
Is this thought/belief true? Probably not, because even though it might appear to be the only opportunity available to you, the reality is that there will be more opportunities out there and as tough as it might be at the time, you will be just fine.
The porcelain throne
This is not the conventional wisdom that you would get from a career professional, but I’ve personally used my dad’s advice of imagining the interviewer sitting on the toilet, like we all do (the porcelain throne image). What it does is make the interviewer very human. Now this tactic has worked for me in the past, when engaged in a meeting with senior executives. But I confess it has not always worked, such as a recent pitch I did in front of a large room of businesspeople. But give it a go – it might work for you if you feel intimidated by those doing the interviewing.
Stop focussing on yourself
It might be difficult to comprehend, but most interviewers want you to succeed as it does make their life easier. They might try to wear you down, test you and want to trip you up, but at the end-of-the day, they want you pass their tests with flying colours. So instead of focussing on yourself, focus on how you can help them.
If you focus on your audience, and how you can help other people, you could at the same time eliminate nervousness. You see by focussing on yourself, you are focussed on your fear of looking ridiculous to others. But if you see the interview as a moment as to how you can help others and a conversation between professionals, then you will not see the interview as an endurance test, or something to fear.