Finally, after customising countless resumes, penning numerous cover letters, outsmarting applicant tracking systems (ATS) and applying for any number of job posts, you’ve been granted a golden ticket to an interview!
However, when the celebrations wound down, you suddenly realised – it’s going to be you and a hiring manager (or a panel of interviewers), sitting in a room (or hopping onto an online platform) for what may seem like an interrogation session. And you need to work to stand out from the crowd for that coveted role.
Although interviewers will be understanding of your nerves, especially if you’re a fresh graduate on the hunt for your first professional job, you still shouldn’t let your nerves get the best of you! Instead, use these quick tips to keep cool and stay calm – or at least appear to be.
Take deep breaths
Before the interview, whether you’re at the office for a face-to-face meet-up or a virtual one, take a moment to take a few deep breaths. This exercise will calm your nerves and bring you down from your fight or flight mode (yes, it’s possible to get there when you’re nervous enough!) and help you think before you step into the interview room (or platform).
Talk slowly and clearly
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a family dinner or nervously trying to get through an interview – it’s normal to ramble on when you start talking. And then veer off-topic completely by accident. While it’s perfectly alright to do so during dinner, saying more than what’s appropriate in an interview isn’t the best thing!
Instead, keep your answers brief and take the time to go through them. This will be especially vital if your interview’s slated to be over video. You can also pause between your sentences for a second or two to give the illusion of talking slowly. But before you go off with this idea, do a test run with career services or friends! They can help you find that “sweet speed spot” that’ll ensure your delivery is smooth and natural.
Sit still and don't fidget
Fidgeting is one of the tell-tale signs of nervousness, so if you want to come across as a confident and assured applicant, master the skill of NOT fidgeting. A common trick to decrease fidgeting is to clasp your hands on the table. If you’re a leg shaker, keep your hands on your lap instead – the added weight and pressure will remind you to not jingle your legs around.
If you think that interviewers can’t see you fidget because your interview is over live video, think again. They’ll be able to hear your fingers tapping on the table over the microphone, and they’ll definitely be able to see you squirming in your seat! So, even if you think you’re not fidgety, or have little to no fidgeting habits, do a few mock interviews with career services or friends, and ask them to call out any nervous tendencies you have.
Make eye contact
Steady and natural eye contact is one of the best ways to convey your confidence without even speaking. But take note! Eye contact doesn’t mean staring fixatedly at your recruiter. Rather, make sure to take breaks over the course of your interview. So, after making eye contact with your interviewer(s), casually look down at your resume, portfolio, or other interesting knickknacks in the room.
If your interview is taking place over a live video, don’t make the mistake of trying to make eye contact with your screen! Instead, look at the camera to give your interviewer the impression that you’re making eye contact.
Don't underestimate the power of looking good. Pulling on a smart outfit for your interview can give you an instant confidence boost. Add the fact that you’ll leave a stellar first impression on your recruiter, and the benefits really outweigh the cons of sifting through your closet.
That’s no reason to only pull on a shirt and blazer without pants if your interview is set to take place virtually, though! Although it's okay to make slightly less effort on your appearance if meeting your interviewer(s) over a digital platform, it’ll still be just as embarrassing (and detrimental to your chances) to experience a wardrobe malfunction on camera.
It’s normal to get butterflies when you’re getting interviewed. But don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Focus on your end goal. While these tips will help in fooling the interviewers into thinking that you’re confident in your abilities, you still need to practise your delivery and prepare your content to clinch that job.