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How to minimise interview nerves

It’s no surprise that most of us get the jitters before and during interview. Our palms may get sweaty, our breathing shallow and our minds start to race. We might lose control and leave the interview asking: ‘What was I thinking? I knew the answers to the questions but went blank.’

The good news is that the experts at face2face Recruitment have techniques and strategies to help you minimse a deadly case of nerves. Indeed, Kate Prior, our Managing Director, has dedicated an entire chapter of her book, Resume Success Secrets, to the topic. It’s worth a read (you can buy the book on Amazon for as little as $4.97).

In the meantime, here are a few tips and techniques.

Tip #1–understand that nerves are normal

Don’t feel badly if your nerves kick up. Nerves can cause physical changes to the body’s chemical levels, causing the primitive ‘fight or flight’ response. They can be caused by many natural feelings, including being out of your comfort zone, fear of failure and not being in control. Nerves are, in other words, normal.

Tip#2—understand the physical symptoms of being nervous

Everyone’s symptoms can be different but it’s common to have a trembling voice, accelerated heartbeat or a sick feeling in your stomach. You may feel anxious, be lost for words and engage in negative internal self-talk. Be kind to yourself if experiencing these normal symptoms.

Tip #3—research ways to minimise nerves

Take control by researching how to minimise nerves. Some ways will be more effective, depending on your personality and circumstance. Choose ways that are best for you and implement them.

Tip #4—interviewer expectations

Remember that interviewers are understanding. They know you’ll be nervous and should ask you ice-breaker questions to allow you to ease into the interview. Remember that they too may be nervous and want to impress you, so they’ll understand if you ask them to repeat a question or ask for a moment to gather your thoughts.

Six techniques for combatting nerves

1. Practice and more practice

Put together a list of common questions asked at interviews (here are the ones we’ve compiled). Practice and rehearse your responses and then practice and rehearse again. Do it out loud. Do it in front of a mirror. Video yourself. Get friends to ask you the questions.

Practice behavioural questions and prepare STAR responses—situation, task, action and result. The best way to prepare is to tell a two-minute story.

2. Body language

Body language influences confidence levels. Watch social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s fantastic TedX talk on power posing (on our website). Amy focuses on how standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident, can affect testosterone and cortisol levels and might even have an impact on our success. So during interview, make sure your posture is straight for correct breathing. Don’t slouch or fiddle.

3. Convert negative self-talk into positive self-talk

As humans, we’re renowned for negative self-talk which can impact how we perform. Coach yourself by highlighting your strengths not weaknesses. Remind yourself that you’re strong enough to have been brought in for interview. Don’t concentrate on how you’re hopeless at interviews. Pat yourself on the back for being ‘interview ready’.

4. Be prepared

The better prepared you are the less nervous and stressed you’ll feel. Research the company on the Internet. Take time well before interview to put point #3 into action. Explore the interview tips in Chapter 9 of Resume Success Secrets and in these articles:

5. Visualise

Visualise yourself as a strong, confident person capable of scoring big during interview. Visualise yourself doing a cracker of a job answering questions. Visualise how great you’re going to feel about your performance, whatever the outcome.

6. Breathe

Calm yourself by standing tall and sitting with a straight back. Breath in through your nose, counting to four, and then breath out through your nose counting to four. Do this several times to oxygenate your brain. When you’re nervous and shallow breathing, the oxygen in your blood travels to your limbs, not to your brain. Controlling your breathing and taking long breaths fools your brain into thinking you’re safe.

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