Have you ever gone into an interview feeling nervous, anxious, stressed or distracted? You’re only focusing on the thought that you won’t do well, that you’re not good enough, that you haven’t got enough skills or experience? That there’s always going to be someone better being interviewed? When I had my first interview after six years in the same job role, I felt like this too. I struggled to even pick up my glass of water without spilling half of it over the table! However, after recently attending my fifth interview, I no longer feel the anxiety, the stress or the lack of confidence that I did in that first interview. I realised that I could teach myself the power of confidence, and in doing so significantly increase my chances of getting the job I deserved.
The mistake we make is being self absorbed in our vision of what will happen during the interview, i.e. we imagine ourselves stumbling over the answers, having sweaty palms when the interviewer goes in for a handshake, or that the interviewer just won’t take to us. The reality is, you’re not the only one feeling this way! A good percentage of people experience nerves before and during the interview process, after all we’re trying to sell ourselves whilst being tested, and the nerves can feel similar to taking an exam or passing your driving test. And let’s face it, we don’t want to fail. The reason we take on these feats is to succeed and gain something in return. Many people suffer from interview nerves, and it’s just a matter of controlling these nerves and turning them into something positive in order to get the job you deserve.
Here’s how I turned my anxiety and nerves into confidence!
1. I prepared
The best interview I attended not coincidentally was the interview I went into feeling prepared for. Prior to the interview, I’d been told the format would be competency based and to research this. I’d never done this sort of interview before and so was a little nervous when I saw all of the potential questions that could be thrown at me! But I got to work looking into how the interview would be conducted and the best way to prepare (Reed gave me a great basic overview).
I created some answers on ten or so potential questions I thought they could ask based on the skills I’d picked from the job description (more details on this interview format on Google). Once I had these answers I practised them out loud and wrote them down over the next few days. This gave me the best chance of remembering them when under pressure in the interview.
I believe this preparation alone gave me the confidence I needed to answer the questions thrown at me well. Which if you ask me is no mean feat! When I couldn’t answer one question, I didn’t crumble. I carried on, because I understood that most people get nervous in interviews, and I didn’t let that one question stop me from showing the interviewers I had prepared well. What we fear is the unknown; we think of all of the questions they could ask and focus on the fact that we might not be able to answer them. Get as much information as you can from the company or agency on the job interview, and prepare sample answers. Just the knowledge that you’ve prepared alone will give you a boost when you walk into that interview.
2. I meditated
I have had an interest in meditation and mindfulness for a while now, and I’d read blogs around the subjects but not really put anything into practice. Until I read a blog mentioning the meditation app Headspace. This is a great app for beginners, providing guidance through 10 initial days of meditation (plus many more if you want to subscribe). I listened to this on the weekdays leading up to the interview. It gave me a real sense of calm and clarity, I felt more relaxed, and I believe it helped me to be more positive in my daily life.
There are many studies which show clear results on the effectiveness of meditation. Research conducted by Harvard University saw participants conduct a 6 week mindfulness program, results of which showed increases in memory and reductions in stress levels and anxiety illustrated by changes in the brains matter. Memory improvements will help to find clarity in a stressful interview environment and dig out correct answers from our minds. Reduced stress levels will also increase our ability to do this, both of which will increase confidence. The founder of Headspace discusses the impacts of meditation on self esteem in this great article. A good read especially when applying the concept to interview preparation and bringing me straight into the next tip below….
3. I told myself it would go well
I used this trick in the days leading up to the interview and in the car on the way there. Too often I’d picture myself stumbling over a question and not being able to answer, or imagine myself being nervous. Everyone around me told me that I’d be great in an interview, and yet I couldn’t picture it myself. I decided to adopt their attitude, and when picturing myself being nervous, I turned it around, seeing myself with confidence. I’d create an image in my mind of the smiles on the interviewer’s faces, the clear and concise answers I’d be giving, and the positive way in which I’d be coming across. I’d switched my negative thinking around to the positive.
Adopting this trick on the journey to the interview was a great idea. I spoke out loud and had thoughts of positive mantras; I told myself I would do well, I am a confident person and I am good at my job. When we think about being nervous in interviews, we tend to look very inwardly and think we’re the only ones that feel this way and the only person that will mess up in an interview, which is ridiculous! Many people have these thoughts and feelings, and it’s all about controlling them and turning them around to your advantage. I believe my positive thought process leading up to the interview enabled me to deal with difficult questions. If I couldn’t answer a question it didn’t throw me off track. I was able to continue with confidence and not let it get me down.
4. I listened to Fiddy
I know. This tip came as a surprise to me too. I remember coming across an article on the morning of my interview discussing the potential benefits of certain types of music and the positive effects that it could have in an interview situation. It found songs such as 50 Cent’s In Da Club and Queen’s We Will Rock You were high power songs due to their heavy bass, which resulted in participants of the study feeling more confident and powerful. Guaranteed benefits for an interview! I listened to both of these songs whilst getting ready before my interview to get myself in the right mindset.
On the journey to the interview, I didn’t have Queen or Fiddy to hand, but I did have some Beyoncé…. Now whether heavy bass or not, Queen B is the modern day version of Girl Power, and guaranteed to make you feel both confident and empowered! Regardless of which artist or genre pumps you up, make sure you get it ready for your pre interview prep. Make a playlist, get the YouTube app for the train ride, or dig out high powered CD’s for the car. Whatever makes you feel strong, make sure you listen to it to get yourself mentally prepped to succeed.
5. I asked for feedback and learnt my lessons
Following on from this interview, I was unfortunately given the news that I hadn’t got the job. Needless to say I was gutted! I knew it had definitely been my strongest interview yet in terms of confidence, preparation and positive thinking. Unfortunately I just didn’t make the cut. I requested some feedback (always a must after an interview!) to ensure I’d be better prepared for the future. The feedback told me I lacked certain technical experience, and this had come across in one of my answers. With this knowledge, I set straight to work putting a plan in place to improve my knowledge. Oh… and in my next interview… I was offered the job there and then! 🙂
This last point is crucial for improving yourself and learning what it takes to become successful in the recruitment process. We can submerge ourselves in endless preparation and do anything we can to ensure we get that job. But if you’re the only one that thinks you came across well in the interview, what’s the point? We need to gain feedback in order to see how others perceive us. Plus, if you can gain suggestions on what you need to improve, whether it be a technical skill, body language, or a particular competency, this gives you something to focus on in preparing for your next interview. Which in turn means that next time, you’ll feel far stronger about something that was considered your weakest point, increasing your confidence and making you unbeatable!! 😀