But here’s some news that may give you a bit of relief: It’s not you; it’s all of us.
Even the most extroverted and seemingly at ease among us get nervous before an important job interview. Pre-interview jitters are extremely normal, but don’t need to derail you.
Here are some useful techniques that can help you find some Zen as you prepare for the big day:
Breathe In and Breathe Out
Controlling your breathing is an easy way to help calm yourself down before any important event, job interviews included. Box breathing is a simple technique that can help you clear your mind and present your best self in your interview.
Here’s how to do it:
Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 more seconds, and repeat as needed.
This breathing technique helps to reduce anxiety and slow your mind down. Breathing techniques can also help you avoid showing up with a shaky voice and stabilize your wobbly hands or feet.
“Normalize” Your Interviewer
When sitting down for an interview, it can feel like the person across the table (or screen, if video) is some mighty, intimidating force who holds the keys to your future and well-being.
But here’s the thing: She’s just a normal person, who has normal problems, wakes up with the same bad breath as you, and very likely understands your (completely normal) interview nerves. Everyone who interviews you has also once been in your position. So they can surely relate to how you may be feeling.
If you tend to feel intimidated by interviewers, try to remember that, regardless of their title, designer blouse, office or fancy shoes, they are just people, like you.
Think of it as a Conversation
Certainly, you’ll want to do all of the normal prep work for your interview — research the company and your interviewer, practice a bit, pick out your power outfit, make sure you’re clear on the agenda for the day, etc.
This will help you feel more confident and, without a doubt, improve your performance. But here’s something else that will help you survive the event AND make the interview more enjoyable for everyone in the mix:
Approach the interview as a conversation vs. a stilted volley of question/answer, question/answer, question/answer (and on and on).
By striving to make the interview an authentic, career-focused conversation (one in which you, of course, showcase the specific value you can offer to that company and team), you’ll surely feel more calm and you’ll increase your odds of coming across as likeable and easy to talk to (and who doesn’t want to hire these people?)
Be Virtually Unstoppable
Another factor that often contributes to pre-interview nerves, is when the conversation will be virtual.
Zoom (or Skype, Teams, Facetime, etc.) interviews can add a whole extra layer of stress to the scenario, especially if you’re not a regular user of the platform you’re slated to use.
You’re going to do yourself a huge (huge) favor if you practice a bit before going live. Set up your space, find clothing that complements the backdrop, brush up on your Zoom etiquette, corner a friend or relative and record a practice session. And then review the recording and tweak until you feel confident with the platform and in how you’re coming across.
You should also remember that holding eye contact during an online interview can make the conversation feel more authentic and help ensure a positive first impression. This is a bit tricky on camera because you’ll want to stare at the interviewer’s face on the screen. But if you do this, it’ll seem like you’re looking down. Remember that looking into your computer’s camera is the only way the person on the other end will feel like you’re making eye contact. (Try putting a little sticky note right above or near the eye of your camera as a reminder.)
Strike a (Power) Pose
So, if you are about to enter your interview and still feeling like a bit of a mess, strongly consider striking a power pose (If you’re at the interview site, you may want to head into a restroom or do this in your car so people don’t wonder what on earth you’re up to).
To practice power posing, find your closest mirror and move your body into a position that you associate with a confident, capable individual. One popular pose that you may want to try is the “wonder woman” pose. The “wonder woman” pose can be done by taking a wide stance, standing up straight, lifting your chin, and placing your hands on your hips.
Boiled down to simple terms (and you can learn more here), power posing allows you to fake it until you make it, by helping you feel powerful and positive, which can lead to confident, strong behavior.
You can also try writing or stating some positive affirmations about yourself, which can help you remember how amazing you are and diminish your anxieties before you take on that interview.
Most of us are far more amazing than we give ourselves credit for. Do yourself a solid and take the time to get prepared, get calm, and then allow that interviewer to meet your incredible, amazing self.