Practical Tips for Managing Interview Nerves

Interview nerves? No problem!

There's no getting away from the fact that you do need to have some control over nerves in an interview to give it your best shot but it's OK and completely normal to be nervous.

Expect to be nervous and go with it. Some of the greatest performers of stage and screen (Benedict Cumberbatch, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Depp, Adele) are incredibly nervous before each performance. In fact, some of them say it helps them do a great job.

 You can be sure that everyone on that interview panel has sat where you're sitting (otherwise they wouldn't have a job!) They will understand and sympathise but they'll also be interested to see whether you are able to give sensible responses and conduct yourself well despite being nervous.

So, I hear you ask, how am I supposed to do that?

1. Prepare!

One of the best antidotes to nerves is to prepare for the interview. This is a simple three-step process of: 1. Thinking up likely questions. 2. Writing down answers which use examples from work, study, school or voluntary work and giving these answers a simple structure. 3. Practising these answers with another person or even in front of the mirror.

2. Take your time.

There's no need to rush into answering the question straight away. Take a few seconds to think how you'll start the answer or to glance at your notes, if you've brought some into the room.

You might think this makes you look hesitant and unsure of yourself. It actually conveys the opposite message: that you're calm and confident enough not to rush in and you have enough self possession to collect your thoughts.

3. Sound logical.

A little bit of logic goes a long way in an interview. There are a few simple ways to sound logical and composed even if your thoughts are in a whirl! Start your answer with a phrase which suggests there'll be some structure to your response.

Great phrases for this are:

'My first point in relation to this is ….'

'There are two examples from my current role where I've demonstrated this skill...'

'The first thing that comes to mind in answer to this question is...'

'As a result of my experience with X, I have learnt Y'

'My previous job taught me how important it is to...'

These phrases don't say anything in themselves but they suggest a logical thought process behind your answer.

4. Buy Time

Even a few seconds can steady those nerves and, more often than not, an idea will pop into your head about how to answer the question.

Useful 'buying time' phrases are:

'I’d like to use an example from my previous position….'

'My success in my studies shows that I can stick with a task when it’s difficult/meet deadlines/organise my time very well: a specific example is….'

'In my current position at X, I’ve had responsibility for… and this shows that I can…'

'I’d like to make two points in relation to this question……. firstly, in my previous job I…. and secondly, in this current role I have……'

5. Remember that you are so much more than this job...

If you don't get the job, there will be other opportunities. In relation to interview preparation, I can help you:

Prepare for the interview so you are as confident as you can be.

Coach you so you do a great job in your interview.