For a Successful Job Interview: Manage Your Nerves!

getoverjobinterviewYou’ve worked long and hard on your LinkedIn Profile and your resumes. You focused your networking on valuable connections and influencers. And in your job search, you carefully applied only for jobs that were good fits.

You’ve done everything right, and it worked! You’ve landed a job interview for the perfect job for the perfect employer.

YIKES! A job interview!

If you are like the vast majority of people, while you are thrilled and excited at this opportunity, you are also terrified. You are afraid that you will blow this big, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So to help you get excel at this critical moment in your job search, here are four important facts about job interview nerves.

Being Nervous Can Actually IMPROVE Your Performance

Studies have shown that being nervous keeps you “on your toes” so you present your best self. Being too laid back for a job interview is not usually a good thing. So, appreciate that you are going to be doing your best.

Being Nervous is NOT an Unusual Reaction

Understand that most of us react exactly this way to being interviewed for a job. Also understand that most interviewers — having been interviewees at several points in their own personal histories — are not going to judge you harshly for being nervous.

You Won’t Be the ONLY Nervous Interviewee

Your competitors will also be nervous, and, if they aren’t, most people will wonder what is wrong with them.

Interviewers Are NOT Trying to Make You Fail

Know that most interviewers are sincerely interested in how well you can do the job. They do want to make a “good hire” — someone who will be good to work with and do the job well — so they will ask you questions to learn about your personality and your capabilities.

Keeping the above points in mind, dig in to your preparation so you can give your best performance. Bring nothing less than an “A Game” effort to this opportunity.

Now that you know it’s OK, even good, to be nervous, take the following actions:

Get Real

Keep this opportunity in perspective. Ask yourself what is the worst that could happen to you if you blow this opportunity.

You will realize that this really isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Chances are extremely good that you will survive if you don’t get this job. In fact, a better job may be waiting for you either with this employer or with a different employer.

Consider this interview an opportunity to gain interviewing experience: practice and improve your job interviewing skills, expand your network, and learn more about this employer.

Be Well-Prepared

You know this is essential! Review the job description. Very carefully. Know your strengths and weaknesses as they apply to this job — particularly make note of your accomplishments that demonstrate your fit with the requirements of the job.

Research the employer so you understand what they do, where they do it, and how and why they are successful. Prepare your questions to help you understand if you really want this job for this employer. Dig in and see what you discover (and have an excellent answer to the seemingly casual, “So what do you know about us?” interview question).

Get comfortable with your answers to the standard job interview questions (read How to Answer Job Interview Questions), with an emphasis on the aspects relevant to this job and this employer. Practice answering those questions, preferably with someone asking the questions, or in front of your mirror.

If you have more than 24-hours notice, pay a visit to the job interview location so you have no trouble getting there. Check out the  traffic, the route, and the location. Notice how employees seem to be dressed and plan to dress accordingly or a bit more formally.

If anything is going to help you knock down those nerves… it is being well-prepared for every job interview.

Keep Positive Thoughts Running Through your Mind

As you prepare and travel to the interview, keep your thoughts positive! We all have thoughts running through our heads as we work, drive, ride in elevators or rapid transit, meet new people. Keep those thoughts pleasant. After all, positive thinking is a variation on the old, “Is the glass half-full or half-empty?” question. You’re not avoiding reality. You are just choosing how you will view it.

How can you be positive? As you prepare and go to your job interview, think “I am prepared and confident, and I will do my best in this interview” rather than having “DON’T FAIL” running through your mind.

Practice Dr. Amy Cuddy’s “Power Poses” (in Private!)

Research has shown that striking one of Dr. Cuddy’s power poses for just a couple of minutes in private (like in a restroom stall, quiet corner of the parking garage, or somewhere else where you are alone and unobserved) before the interview can be a very big help.

These poses turn the old fake-it-till-you-make-it mantra into a reality. You’ll feel confident and successfully put those nerves to good use in your interview.

Now, go for it! Picture yourself doing this job, working with these people, and being a big success. Start out expecting success or, at least, an interesting discussion.

Bottom Line

Let your nerves show a bit, unless you are so nervous you can’t talk coherently or think you will faint. Push on through the initial fear, and dig into the discussion. Let your nerves help you show you best self, and leverage your thorough preparation to demonstrate your interest and your qualifications.

When the interviews are over, send a great thank you note to each person who interviewed you. Then, move on with your job search — without waiting to learn the results of your interview — just in case this employer isn’t lucky (or smart) enough to make you a job offer.


For this post, YouTern would like to thank our friends at Work Coach Cafe.




Susan P Joyce AuthorAbout the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.



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