Seven ways to beat nerves and boost your confidence at interview
Your palms sweat and your mind goes black. When you eventually think of something to say, you waffle on so long you forget what the question was. If interview nerves are a problem for you, here seven strategies to ensure you stay calm, confident and relaxed.1. Prepare well
Some nervousness can be a good thing as it raises your attentiveness and shows that you care about the process.
'At the same time, no-one should under-estimate how nerves can block what you want to achieve at interview,' says John Lees, author of a wide range of career books including How to Get a Job You Love.
'That's why it's important to prepare beforehand and have strategies in place to deal with anxiety. If you feel ready, you can even get to enjoy the adrenalin rush. Being prepared turns fear into focus.'
'Research the job, the company and the likely questions that will come up. Prepare lots of good stories that show your relevant capabilities.
'In the stress of the interview it's easy to become tongue-tied or waffle, so develop a script that you can use to deliver the key messages that you want them to hear.'
2. Know what to expect
Fear of the unknown can add to your jitters. Find out what format the interview will take and research the route beforehand – you may even like to visit the building so that you know exactly where you are going.
Corinne also suggests looking up your interview panel on Linkedin. 'Seeing what they look like and finding out about their background will make them seem so much more human, as well as giving you a few pointers when it comes to making small talk.'
3. Do a mock interview
Part of the preparation process involves practising what you will say.
Corinne says: 'Don't just make notes. Say your answers out loud beforehand to make sure that your thoughts are well expressed, succinct, and that your tone of voice is confident.'
John agrees, adding: 'Don't use real job interviews as a testing ground. Rehearse your answers carefully. That means doing a lot more than a vague, "when I get there I expect I will talk about...." It means practising real answers, out loud, at least three times.
'Ask for practice interviews with someone who has done recruitment and seek tough, objective feedback. Get someone to video the practice performance, and try playing it back with the sound off to evaluate non-verbal messages coming from your body language.'4. Be the best version of you
On the day, forget the self-analysis. Constantly judging your performance and worrying about the last response you gave, or what you will say next, will only add to your nerves.
Instead, listen to what it is the interviewer is saying (if you're busy preparing answers in your head you may not hear the question properly), and try to relax and be yourself.
'The aim is to be you on a good day: a slightly more outgoing, positive, more energised version of your everyday self,' says John.
'Remember, all you are trying to do is allow an interviewer enough glimpses to imagine you in the job. You don't have to totally defeat your nerves to achieve this.'5. Try a breathing technique
Before you go into the interview, try striking a power pose and doing some deep breathing.
Sarah Archer, career coach and co-founder of CareerTree, says: 'For me, the key to beating nerves is breathing. When we are in a state of anxiety, blood flows away from our brains ready to take flight or fight, which means our cognitive functions can suffer. Slow, deep breathing bring the oxygen back to our brains and helps us to think clearly.
'If you aren't into yoga or other meditative techniques it may take a bit of practice until deep breathing comes naturally, but there are some inspiring resources available, such as this Relaxing Breath exercise from Dr Weil.6. Visualise it going well
Top athletes use visualisation techniques to boost their performance, so why not you
Sarah says: 'While it may sound a little kooky, spending time imagining yourself walking confidently into the room, greeting the interviewers positively and answering the questions well, could make all the difference. You will need to do this a few times a day in the run up to your interview for it to have a significant impact.'
7. Remember, it's okay to be nervous
If you have done all you can to prepare, hopefully you will feel confident on the day. If anxiety should creep up on you, Sarah's advice is to not fight it.
'Battling anxiety can often make it worse. Instead, give yourself permission to be anxious, recognise the feelings, and bring your focus back to the present.
'And remember to smile. It's easy to grimace when you're feeling stressed – a smile can go a long way to easing tension and building rapport.'