Interviews can be nerve wracking. Nobody can deny that meeting someone for the first time in a high pressure environment while you are trying to walk a tight line: sounding intelligible yet brief, highlighting your accomplishments but being humble, showing personality yet being polite and professional. It’s tough.
But instead of thinking of the interview as an excuse for scrutiny, perhaps think of it as a chance to show yourself off.
I won’t pretend to be perfect. I still get butterflies before walking into the interview location or dialing the numbers of the interview conductor. But thinking of the interview as an opportunity to showcase your off-paper traits helped me to become less nervous.
Growing up, I used to be told I was memorable and I took it as an insult… or at least a slight. No preteen wants to be told they stand out when all they want to do is fit in. Even though it was just a few insignificant memories from a long time ago, I still think of that every time I go into an interview. Now, I make it my goal to be memorable, to create a positive impression on the interviewee.
I know it may sound basic, everyone is trying to make a good impression, but actually making it a tangible goal helps me focus my interview. Often there are little cues you can pick up on during an interview to know if you are doing a good job and making a positive impression. Watching for the cues during the interview helps build confidence and release nerves.
Here are a few tips to shake the nerves and be prepared to make an impression
- Be confident.
- People want to hire someone that is self-assured and confidence is one way to show you are ready to tackle this job. If you aren’t confident to the core – fake it. No one has to know.
- Genuinely want to be there.
- It’s easy to detect if someone doesn’t truly want to be there and not showing interest can destroy your chances of obtaining the job offer. If you went through the trouble to apply for the job, you must want it. An interview isn’t the most exciting thing but think of it as the gateway to the job and that is something to be genuinely excited about.
- Be prepared
- Go into the interview with talking point and rehearsed answers. This will help you look prepared and intelligent. However, make sure you don’t over utilize the prepared answers. The goal is to create genuine conversation and if you are prepared you can organically sprinkle in stories to highlight your capability.
- Every question is an opportunity for a story.
- This point goes along with the previous advice. Each question is aimed to uncover something unique about you as a candidate. Answer the question directly and then show them through a quick story. Examples are more relatable and make you memorable.
- Aim for the interviewer to have a good experience too
- Don’t go into the interview entirely focused on yourself. Remember that interviewers probably do this all the time and making a good impression requires making a subconscious connection. People remember people that make them happy or peak their interest. By transitioning the interview into a genuine conversation and showing a bit of personality (professionally) you can insure that they will have a pleasant experience as well.
If you aren’t naturally confident, you can try improving your body language. Amy Cuddy, a social physiologist gave a TED Talk on how power posing can help you imitate confidence.