Exams, public speaking, interviews, starting a new job and networking – some of the most common situations that make people nervous (and in my case, watching a nail-biter of an America’s Cup boat race on TV this morning).
For students, I think top of the angst-inducing list will be the job interview. The stakes are high – if it’s a job or internship you really want, you know that it is vital to do well at the interview. And for the rookie interviewee, fear of the unknown and the thought of facing an interview panel is enough to bring on Dragon’s Den-like nightmares. So how do you prevent the trembling jitters or freezing like a possum caught in the headlights?
First, give yourself a pat on the back. You have got an interview! The employer has seen something in you that impressed them more than numerous other applicants. Then acknowledge that being nervous is normal and interviewers will expect to see a level of nervousness. It shows you are keen after all. But is it is also important to appear positive, friendly and confident in your abilities. The key, as any good scout will know, is to Be Prepared.
Use your Careers Service
Interview preparation is a no-brainer. You know what happens to possums that don’t look both ways. Make use of the resources available to you: tip sheets, common interview questions, how to handle different types of interviews, interview workshops, mock interview practice…do not leave for your interview without stopping here well in advance.
Do your homework
Be proactive and find out as much as you can about the job and employer beforehand. At the interview you will then be able to demonstrate how your skills and experience fit the role and the company’s culture and values, and you will ace the question “What do you know about our company?” Check out their website, Facebook, LinkedIn profile, annual reports, recruitment brochures, recent awards, projects and positive media coverage. Use your connections – friends or alumni who work there can be a wealth of info. Also look at profiles of the people conducting the interview and prepare questions of your own.
Arrive at your interview fresh, alert and in plenty of time. Dashing in disheveled and late is not a good look and will turn you into a nervous wreck. Before the big day, work out how to get there, travel times and where to park. Organise suitable interview clothes and print out copies of the job description and your CV.
Smile and try to relax
A smile and a good handshake will make you appear confident and upbeat even if you are a bundle of nerves. Think of it as a conversation rather than an interview; this is the opportunity for both parties to get to know each other. If you do find yourself becoming panicky, take a few slow deep breaths.
I have tons of respect for 10 year old kids who get up on stage and perform on NZ’s Got Talent, not only in front of a celebrity judging panel, but a live audience and TV cameras. So if they can do it – so can you!
For more tips I recommend these two excellent articles:
Tips for graduates: how to deal with job interview nerves
9 Tips to stay calm during an interview