You can learn how to prepare for an interview. You can understand what’s expected of you on the day and you can rationalise the process. However as human beings most of us are likely to feel at least some degree of anxiety. This post provides hints and tips on the things you can do to reduce any anxiety you may be feeling both before and during the process and help you to be the best you can on the day.
Anticipation, Preparation and Practice are three approaches that may help you.
The greater degree of control you have over the process, the less stressed you will be and the better you’ll perform. Daniel Levitin in his TED talk on staying calm, outlines the value of undertaking a ‘pre-mortem.’ That is, preparing in advance for everything that could possibly go wrong.
When stressed, cortisol floods into the bloodstream meaning you quite literally cease to be able to think clearly or logically. Even though you are not about to be attacked by a lion, the body’s response is nonetheless conditioned to a ‘fight or flight’ response. Therefore the more risks you can address beforehand, the less anxious you will be and the clearer your thinking on the day.
‘Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences’ Norman Cousins
In order to maximise the chances of the interview going well, what can you do to reduce the risk of things that could go wrong from a practical perspective? Some examples include:
- Logistics: do you know where you are going for your interview and how long it will take to get there? Do you have directions? Is there more than one company site? Where will your interview be held?
- Timings: what train or bus will you need to catch? What if there are transport delays on the day- should you catch an earlier one to be sure? Do you have a contact to call just in case you are unavoidably delayed?
- Personal appearance: do you know what you will be wearing? Is it clean and pressed? Are your shoes polished?Will you need an umbrella? Is your mobile phone charged? Remember to turn it to silent during the interview.
2. Preparation: ‘To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.’ Benjamin Franklin
Key aspects to good preparation:
• Research: not just from the company’s website but through Warwick library’s research databases and through any contacts you may have. Is there anything about the company or sector that has caught your eye in the news recently? How is the organisation you are being interviewed for different from its competitors?
• Knowing why you want the job: while part of the interview is designed to uncover your transferable skills through competency-based questions (insert links) you will also be asked questions designed to test your motivation. Be really clear why you want the job – aim to have 3 key reasons you can use that are convincing and which will convey your enthusiasm.
• View the interview as a conversation rather than an interrogation: you are checking the recruiter out as much as they are checking you. Knowing this can help you re-frame the process and make it feel less daunting.
• The interview starts from your arrival: make a good impression by being friendly and polite to everyone you meet. Opinions of staff not on the panel may be sought and could contribute to the decisions hiring staff will make.
• Posture can increase your confidence: Neuroscientist Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on Power Poses illustrates this, so try practicing a power pose in the loos shortly before your interview.
• Sitting up straight will ensure oxygen can get to your brain, helping you think more clearly.
3. Practice: ‘The harder I work the luckier I get.’ Samuel Goldwyn
• Before your interview, spend time practicing answers to interview questions. Record yourself and notice how you come across. Any nervous ticks or bad habits that need to be worked on? Practice until you feel more confident.
• Have some questions for the panel. Make a note of possible questions in a notepad. Even if you don’t have questions open your notebook so you can say- ‘Well I did have some but the process today has covered these, thank you.’ This will make you look well-prepared. Examples of questions you might ask:
‘You asked me earlier on about x ..…I wonder what you thought about x?’ or ‘What do you most enjoy about working here?’
In summary, whether you get the job or not, you deserve credit for having secured an interview- that’s a success in itself. If don’t get the job, ask for feedback as this will help you improve for the next time. Re-frame your experience not as ‘I failed’ but as ‘I’ve not succeeded…yet.’ With persistence and practice you will get there.