Do you get butterflies every time you think of your first job interview post-graduation? You’re certainly not alone if so; according to a recent study by Harris Interactive and Everest College in America, job interviews make 92% of adults feel anxious.
“I think that nervousness prior to a job interview is caused mostly by the fact that there’s so much at stake,” explains Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, and host of the YouTube channel FromGradToCorp. “Getting a job, especially one you really want, can certainly impact your self-worth and general happiness. It enables you to pay your bills, save money, have health insurance, and do something every day that you look forward to doing. It makes you feel like you are contributing to the greater good of the company; that you are a part of something bigger than yourself,” he adds.
In addition to the internal changes nerves can invoke (think racing heart, angsty thoughts and jelly legs), the pressure of an interview scenario can also make us act differently, and can even change our outward appearance. So, in order to ensure you make a winning impression on a potential employer, it’s important you keep a hold on those butterflies. Here are a few tips to help out…
Just as your heart rate increases when you feel a dose of anxiety, so too can the speed at which you speak. The problem with super-speedy-speech is two-fold. The first is technical; the faster you speak, the harder your listeners will have to concentrate – particularly if you end up stumbling over your words. The second sends out a clear-cut signal that you are nervous. Now, while everyone understands that all interviewees will feel jittery, it’s also important that you project confidence and self-belief. To try and avoid whizzing through your words, pre-interview take a few minutes to breathe deeply and slowly; this should slow down your heart rate, which should – in turn – calm and slow you down generally.
When we’re nervous, our bodies also release the hormone adrenalin, which increases our blood circulation and metabolism in a bid to ready our muscles for fight or flight; an evolutionary throw-back that helps us avoid danger. One side effect of increased adrenalin is shaky hands. And just like speedy talking, shaky hands are a tell-tale sign that you’re nervous. And just like reducing speedy speech, deep breathing is the best way to calm those shakes. Try breathing in slowly for four seconds, holding for your seconds, and then breathing out for four seconds; a technique dubbed ‘tactical breathing’ and utilised by the military to preserve adrenalin and manage nerves.
Arriving early for an interview gives you time to prepare; figure out where you need to go, get accustomed to the environment, visit the toilet, and take those vital deep breaths! If you arrive with little time to spare you’ll be flustered and more likely to project a nervy demeanour.
Do your homework
“My biggest piece of advice to students is always do your research,” says Ashley Strausser, associate director of the Center for Career and Professional Development at Otterbein University.
“The best way to stay calm is to be very prepared in every way possible. The more time you spend preparing, the more confident you’ll be. Research the company and the industry, write down the questions you have for the interviewer, practice answers to anticipated questions aloud – either by yourself or with a friend or family member who will give you honest feedback, and write down the three to five things you want the interviewer to know about you before the interview ends so you can tailor your answers appropriately.”
While anxiety is entirely normal and can give job candidates a much needed energy boost, getting a grip of those jitters is key to projecting a confident and attractive persona. So, try these three simple techniques to help bust those interview nerves and, while you’re at it, take a look at our blog on how to project self-belief through body language. Good luck!