Pre-Interview Nerves - 10th March 2016

There are a few things in life that give us the dreads. Those moments we fear that our brain won’t work. The thought of giving a presentation to a room full of strangers, the day of the driving test, that crucial exam we need to pass – all are enough to bring on a cold sweat and a sleepless night. The other big time dread is the job interview. Some lucky people can breeze through a job interview without a care in the world, but for most of us, we can get ourselves into a bit of panic and suffer from a case of nerves.

Pre-interview nerves are really, really annoying. They can make us feel a bit sick. They can make our brains unable to communicate with our mouths properly and leave us tongue-tied. They can also give us a bizarre case of temporary amnesia where we forget the simplest of things. They can make us do and say things that we wouldn’t normally. Why is it that before and during an interview, we suddenly seem to become extraordinarily clumsy?

So what can we do about them? Nerves are completely natural and are our brain’s way of telling us, we are about to do something really important and we need to focus –  a primeval way of saying ‘pay attention and be alert!’ There are two key things we can do to help ourselves cope with them.

The first is to prepare. The more practice we can do before an interview the better. We don’t have job interviews every day of our lives, so they’re not something we are used to. Even if we think we are the ideal candidate and we would be perfect for the job, if we aren’t used to selling ourselves and presenting ourselves confidently and articulately then we aren’t giving ourselves the best chance. So how can we practice and lessen the effects of those pre-interview nerves? Start with a list of the most common types of questions that get asked at an interview (I’ll cover those in another post). Think about how best to answer them, honestly and succinctly. Then look at the company interviewing you. Think about some great questions you can ask them too. Once you’ve don’t that, have a mock interview with a friend or member of the family. Failing that, there’s always the mirror to talk to!

The second, and it sounds easier said than done, is to breathe deeply, slowly and to relax. Before you even set foot in the building where the interview is going to take place, take a few minutes to tune into the meeting. Take long deep breaths and focus on controlling your breathing. Nice and slow.

If you can do these two things, you’ll be much better prepared and you’ll also be more in control of your nerves. I was once told that nerves are like butterflies in your stomach, they’re fluttering all over the place. You can’t get rid of them, but what you can do is make sure they’re all fluttering in the same direction and help you!