Is there anything more nerve-wracking than a job interview?
Most people would rather get a root canal than go on another job interview. But if you want a job, the interview process is a necessary evil.
And let’s be real… those jitters aren’t doing anything to help your chances of landing the job.
So, if you want to be successful, you must find a way to relax before and during the interview.
Here are 6 techniques you can use to help you remain calm before and during the interview process.
1) Prepare more than you think you should
When you’re nervous, you’re not going to be able to rely on rote memorization. These are the first memories that will leave you in your time of need.
Instead, prepare so much that you feel like the answers are second nature.
Here are a few ways you can do that.
a) Practice answers to common interview questions
You know that your interviewer is going to ask certain questions, like “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “how would you handle a difficult customer?”
With all the common questions, an interviewer may also ask for examples of these things in your work experience. Be prepared with examples.
In fact, think about all the most challenging and most rewarding times in your career. If you have a few good stories at the top of your mind, you might be able to use them to answer virtually any question.
The key is to remember the events as they’ve happened instead of trying to remember an answer to a specific question. This way, you’ll arrive with all the information you need and don’t have to worry about feeling like you’re reading off a script.
This is especially helpful if you have things you’d rather not spend time discussing.
For example, if you’re looking to find a job during recovery, you may want to avoid discussing parts of your past. When you’re prepared, it’s easier to direct the conversation away from topics that make you uncomfortable.
b) Learn about the company
Spend some time researching the company online. Learn as much as you can, including company culture and overall workplace morale. If possible, strike up a conversation with some employees.
Find out what they’re happy about and what they would change. This could help you come up with questions to ask the employer. Or it might take some of the pressure off the interview. If you learn something negative in your research, you may not be as worried about nailing the interview.
2) Prepare your clothes in advance
If you have an interview outfit already picked out, you’re ahead of the game. Many people have one or two outfits that they reserve for interviews.
If you don’t have a good outfit for an interview, now is a good time to invest in one.
And if you can’t afford to do that right now, you can either borrow or work with what you have. Look within your own closet and assemble the most interview-appropriate outfit you have. If you aren’t going for an office job, a suit might be overkill. Look at how people dress to go to work at this place typically. You’ll want your outfit to be about 20 percent more professional than that.
So if people wear jeans, you might wear khakis to an interview. Or a nice pair of business casual black pants with a button-down shirt.
If you aren’t sure what to wear, remember that it’s better to over-prepare than to under prepare. Go with something more professional instead of business casual.
And check the weather the night before to make sure your outfit is weather appropriate. If not, now is the time to adjust. Not only will you be uncomfortable, but you’ll look silly in a winter suit when it’s the middle of summer.
Whether you have something or borrow it, set out this outfit the night before your interview. Make sure it’s hanging in your closet and ready for your big event.
3) Prepare your bag or briefcase
You should always arrive at an interview with a pen and paper – at a minimum. And if it’s an interview for a high-level job, you’ll also want to bring a copy of your application (just in case), a copy of your resume and a list of references with any letters of recommendation.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have a list of questions for your interviewer. Ideally, you’d be able to rattle these off from memory, but it’s better to look at your paper and ask the right questions than to start getting stressed over the memory that’s failing you at the moment.
4) Exercise in the morning
It’s a good idea to fit in a pre-morning workout before your interview, if at all possible. This will help improve your mood and promote relaxation.
Just don’t attempt anything strenuous. Now isn’t the time to push your limits.
You don’t want to hurt yourself and have to reschedule or arrive with aches and pains weighing you down.
If you aren’t one to exercise, just go for a relaxing walk in nature. Your local park will probably work just fine.
5) Pay attention to body language
Before your interview, meet a friend for coffee. As you’re listening to them talk, pay attention to what you do naturally. Do you cross your arms? Fidget restlessly? Your go-to moves may not serve you well in an interview.
If you have any bad body language habits, practice keeping your hands in place, either on a table or on your lap. Practice good posture and try to exude confidence – even if you don’t feel it. It’s okay to fake it.
6) Arrive early
The worst thing you can do for any interview is to arrive late. It sends the message that you’ll probably arrive late to work every morning if you actually got the job. This is why you should never aim to arrive on time. Instead, set your focus on arriving early.
The further you have to travel, the earlier you should aim to be.
When you’re coming from a further distance, there’s more opportunity for something to go awry during your commute.
If everything goes according to plan, you might arrive uncomfortably early. In this case, do something else to kill time nearby until about 15 minutes before your interview.
Arriving too early isn’t as bad as arriving late, but it will inevitably put pressure on the interviewer to hurry up and start your interview – and that could put them in a weird place if they aren’t ready.
If you get the timing wrong, you could end up stressing over it during your interview, and that’s not a good place to be.
When you arrive prepared for your interview and ready to talk about your life and experience, everything will come naturally and you’re much more likely to land the job.