Is there anything more stressful than a job interview? I mean, maybe. And often, it’s just the idea of the interview itself that gets people worked up, not simply talking about yourself. Which is all an interview is. But if you’re stressed about it, you’re more likely to stumble over words, forget important facts, or talk incessantly to the point of embarrassing yourself. But if you prepare ahead of time and maintain your composure, you’ll walk in the door cool and confident and crush the interview. Here’s how to stay calm during a job interview.
Take a few breaths and focus on each question as its own individual moment. Don’t even consider the next ten or so questions that come next. Just seize on this moment: this is a chance to show them how well suited you are for this job. Demonstrate your skills and prove your experience. Breathing and pausing to reflect on the question will help you stay calm and focused.
Make a cheat sheet
No, I don’t mean that you need to ink tiny answers on your forearms like you may or may not have done in high school. Just brainstorm some likely questions and write out the answers. Don’t take your writing into the interview with you, but the act of writing something out helps you retain it better and makes you more thoughtful. Again, the more you prepare, the more confident you’ll feel.
Do the research
Add some of your research into the company you’re interviewing with to your cheat sheet. Pore through their website, make note of the big names you should probably know, and jot down their mission statement and some of their language that you can sprinkle through some of your responses. And don’t forget to peruse the job description again and prepare yourself to address what makes you a unique fit for the role. Emphasize how you can add value to the company.
Do a dress rehearsal
Seriously, park yourself in front of the mirror or record yourself answering common interview questions. Don’t memorize answers word for word, you’ll look silly and pretentious, but definitely practice talking about yourself, your skills, your strengths, the valuable contributions you made to other employers. Practice the eye contact, appropriate smiles, using the interviewer’s name, handshake, all of it.
Dress the part
Find out what the dress code is and aim for slightly better. In other words, no need to wear a suit if most people wear jeans and a polo. But if the dress coat is business casual, a suit, or at least a blazer or tie, wouldn’t hurt. Don’t hesitate to splurge on a new pair of shoes or something nice that really enhances your image and makes you look professional. Try on everything ahead of time to make sure it fits and equally important, matches. Too much makeup, too much jewelry, or a really strong perfume or cologne can be distracting for the interviewer, so plan for
Eat a meal
Don’t go into the interview hungry! Don’t feast to the point that you give yourself a stomach ache either, but make sure you don’t have low blood sugar and do have some energy-boosting protein and antioxidants. A hangry job applicant is not a calm job applicant.
Get a pep talk
Go ahead, give yourself a pep talk, or get one from a friend, a mentor, or your favorite life coach, professional athlete, or celebrity in your industry and listen to something inspirational that they’ve posted. Whatever it takes to walk into the interview feeling confident, calm, and prepared.
Listen to music
If a cheesy inspirational talk doesn’t cut it for you, listen to your favorite music. Music has a powerful impact on your mood. Perhaps it’s something that pumps you up, like your pre-game playlist from your athlete days, or something more mellow, that calms your nerves and helps you focus. Find the right mix that gets your energy where it needs to be.
Never be on time…
….Always be early! Arriving a few minutes early will allow you to breathe, center yourself, stay calm, and glance over your resume (or your cheat sheet!) one last time. If you dash in the door with only a minute to spare—or worse, late!—you’ll come off as frazzled or unprofessional. After all, if you can’t make it to the interview on time, will you be able to make it to work on time? But if you find yourself running late for some unforeseen reason, take a deep breath and remember that you can only control the things you can control. Give them a call, let them know you’ll be late, and be gracious as they agree to either reschedule or just hold the interview as soon as you can get there.
Seize on your anxiety
A little bit of stress before an interview can be a good thing. It’s why some people work best with tight deadlines or under a demanding boss. Just channel the stress, so that it’s positive, focused on replying with remarkable, mind-blowing answers aimed at demonstrating your skill and fit for the job. And remember, they already like you. That’s why they invited you to an interview to begin with. Channel your anxiety and it will help you stay calm!
The simplest piece of advice you’ll ever receive. And not just because it makes you look kinder and more approachable. The simple act of smiling can also trick your brain into feeling happy, so you can relax a little bit more. So when you start to feel overwhelmed during the interview, take a deep breath and smile. You’re also likely to get a return smile from your interviewer and that will help to put you at ease.
This is my favorite piece of advice. For anything. Even if the interview doesn’t go well, don’t beat yourself up or dwell on it. Move forward and focus on something positive. It might be food or a new piece of clothing or some fresh flowers for your kitchen. Celebrate that even landing an interview and showing up is no small feat. Just don’t spend too much money until you’ve landed the job.
Your resume should already be peppered with some statistics, facts, and figures that describe prior achievements and successes. And if it’s not, get with Chief of Staff as soon as possible, so they can help you craft the perfect resume. A good resume is the foundation for a good job interview. The interview is a chance to expand on all those positive points and really show yourself off. If you’re relatively new to the workforce or don’t have a lot of experience or qualifications, focus on the soft skills you possess and any accolades you’ve received from teachers or professors. For more job interview tips or to get your job search on the right path, contact Chief of Staff today.