Got an important job interview coming up? It’s normal to feel a bit anxious before (and during!) an interview.
But while nerves are certainly a normal part of the interview process, you don’t want anxiety to get in the way of you getting the job.
After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing that you have the right skills and experience to do the job, only to have things fall apart during the interview.
If you get super nervous at the thought of attending an interview, these tips can help you feel more relaxed and confident, so you can deliver your best performance on the day.
Preparation is key to nailing any interview.
When should you start your preparation? As soon as you find out your application has been successful!
Scott Wagstaff, Managing Director of Audrey Page & Associates, is full of insightful advice when it comes to knowing what employers are looking for and how interviewees can make a good impression.
Wagstaff’s first piece of advice is to make sure you tailor your CV or resume for the particular job.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ resume these days,” explains Wagstaff. “You have to look specifically at what the job entails and try and put yourself in the seat of your future employer about what they are looking for in an employee.”
“Be really clear about what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about, because those are the things that the employer is interested in. If you love something you’re going to do a much better job than if you’re just ho-hum about it!”
In the preparation stage, Wagstaff recommends going to the employer’s website, looking at their ‘Careers’ page, and becoming familiar with the company’s vision, values and strategic intent. You can even have a look at their Annual Report.
“All that information helps you to build up a picture as to whether it’s the right job for you and also shows the employer that you have the motivation and curiosity they’re looking for. It’s a dating game, at the end of the day, in that both parties are happy with what’s happening moving forward.”
You can also use your preparation time to learn how to take charge of your nerves.
Luckily, there are some well-known strategies that many people use to help feel more calm, confident and collected during a job interview.
One of the best things you can do to feel more prepared on the day is to know about the STAR technique – a strategy that can help a lot with answering job interview questions.
The STAR method helps you create well-articulated, clear responses to interview questions that are based on competencies. The method is quite invisible to the listener, coming across as natural, but demonstrating to interviewers how you meet the criteria for each competency.
Situation – a brief description of the situation and context of the story (who, what, where, when, how)
Task – explain the task you had to complete, highlighting any challenges or constraints (e.g. deadlines, costs, other issues)
Action – describe the specific actions you took to complete the task
Result – close with the result of your efforts, including clear stats or figures to quantify the result if possible.
(Note: Wagstaff refers to this method as CAR, where the first point relates to Context.)
As part of your interview prep, create a pre-prepared list of responses that you can use when questioned on possible competencies or skills.
Our nerves tend to play up when we are caught unaware or have to think quickly on our feet. When you’ve already played over possible questions and scenarios in your head, you’ll be more able to respond in a calm and collected way.
You might also like to check out our previous article on how storytelling can be a powerful secret weapon when it comes to job interviews.
Engaging the interviewer by telling relevant stories that demonstrate your strengths can be a great way to make your interview more memorable and stand out from the competition.
Storytelling also shows employers your values. While having the necessary qualifications and experience are certainly important, employers are also interested in finding employees whose values are aligned with that of the business.
In an interview, you’re being given a wonderful opportunity to tell potential employers first-hand how your personal values can support the organisation’s mission and vision. Storytelling allows you to go into a lot more depth in this area, with personal or work-related stories giving insight into the core values that are uniquely important to you.
For example, you may be able to describe how overcoming a particular challenge helped you build greater resilience in the workplace, and how you can successfully apply that quality to the potential role. In this way, you can effectively demonstrate your values while building a stronger emotional connection with your interviewers.
Do all of the above and you’ll be feeling cool, calm, collected and ready to show hiring managers why you’re a valuable asset to their team and organisation. Good luck!