Reducing Nerves and Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Job Interviews

Part of the Successful Job Interviews For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian/New Zealand Edition)

Interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you haven’t interviewed for a while or if you’re really (super) keen on the job you’re interviewing for. But with a few techniques, you can reduce your nerves and impress the interviewer with your calmness and composure.

Use the following techniques to put your readiest foot forward:

  • Look interested when you’re seated by leaning slightly forward with the small of your back against the chair.

  • Look the interviewer squarely in the nose — this way, you appear to be making eye contact. You look open and honest. More earnest honesty is communicated by upturned, open palms.

  • Pause and think before answering a question to seem thoughtful and unflappable.

  • Refer to your notes — this helps you look like someone who covers all the bases. Just don’t make the mistake of holding on to your notes like they’re a life preserver.

  • If you find your voice sounds tight and creaky when you’re nervous, try warming up before an interview or your next practice run: Sing in the shower or in your car on the way to the interview. La la la la . . . maybe you shouldn’t sing on the bus.

Looking alert, competent and confident during an interview is important, and certain actions and mannerisms can either turn on or turn off hiring action. Rehearse nonverbal as well as spoken messages, and try to avoid the following image-detracting actions:

  • Leg swinging

  • Foot tapping

  • Rocking from side to side

  • Fiddling with your hair

  • Waving around nervous hands

  • Leaning back

  • Crossing your arms

  • Bowing your head frequently

  • Darting your eyes

  • Blinking slowly (comes across as lack of interest or slow thinking)

  • Touching your mouth constantly

  • Forgetting to smile

Memorise your main message and keep this in mind throughout the interview, tailoring your responses wherever possible. Get your skills and competencies, accomplishments and other qualifications down pat. Rehearse until you’re comfortable answering questions and you’ve practised your basic presentation techniques.

If you still find yourself really nervous before an interview, even after all your preparation, combine some relaxation techniques with visualisation. Visualise a quiet, beautiful scene, such as a calm deserted beach or a soothing rainforest with a waterfall. Inhale and think, ‘I am.’ Exhale and think, ‘Calm.’ Repeat at least 12 times.

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Successful Job Interviews For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian/New Zealand Edition)

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