Nervous about your interview?

Deirdre Sheehan 29.06.2012

If you are like me and have been following the European Championships recently you would have seen top class footballers battling with their nerves in penalty shootouts.

The prime example being the England team once again getting knocked out on the dreaded penalty shootout, a direct result of not overcoming their nerves in big tournaments.

What people fear when it comes to interview is those tell tale signs that give you away in front of a potential employer - dry mouth, sweating palms, blank mind and the desperate urge to exit the room as soon as possible.  Don’t worry this is a familiar tale for many people who dread interviews and suffer terribly from interview nerves. I bet these were the exact symptoms Cristiano Ronaldo suffered from when he failed to step forward to take a penalty kick against Spain. 
It is the innate flight or fight reaction, an autonomic reaction when your brain urges you to perform two life saving actions. As your body responds to the stress of the situation there are physical sensations such as the sudden rush of adrenalin and a pounding heart.  Of course this reaction is designed to prepare you to either run or fight the impending danger, however, in a modern day stress situation such as an interview, this reaction is less than helpful.
So how do you overcome the fear?
  • Prepare fully for the interview, there’s nothing like lack of preparation to give you a feeling of panic. 'Fail to prepare, Prepare to fail'. Preparation can help to refocus your attention and perform to the best of your ability without the need to be held back by your interview nerves.
  • Make sure you know where you are going prior to the interview and ensure you have enough time to get there.  Being late for interview will give you a good reason to build up your stress levels. Work with your recruitment consultant and listen to the advice given.
  • Chill out! Prior to the interview breath deeply from the diaphragm, focus on your breath, breathing out slowly and relaxing your shoulders and neck as you do.  Repeat this a couple of times while you are waiting. 
  • Think rationally about the situation that is causing this stress. Consider whether this fear and anxiety is justified. If you think about it rationally, are you simply meeting another human being who would be delighted if you were a match for their vacancy? 
  • Ask yourself these questions - Will getting yourself into this state help you? No, in fact it will surely have the opposite effect. What are you afraid of?  Think about this logically. 
  • Finally, I think it is helpful to put yourself in the shoes of the person interviewing you.  Surely the pressure is on them to come up with the right questions, to maintain the flow of the interview. Bear in mind that your interviewer is there to ask questions which will give you the best opportunity to demonstrate your relevant match for them.

For more advice on interview, check out the article 'Answering questions at interview' and 'Telephone interview tips & techniques'.

Deirdre Sheehan's picture
Senior Consultant | Engineering Recruitment