Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to Overcome Interview Jitters

I was teaching a class last week to a group of military service members preparing to transition into the private sector. At one point in the class I had a young gentleman ask me, "Why do people get so nervous in an interview? It's just a conversation!" I agree so much with that statement, I actually stopped the class to give the man a high five.

However, not everyone is so laid back about the job interview. Many of us are nervous about the idea of the job interview. No matter how much we prepare and practice, we still get the attack of the nerves. Next time you are facing the prospect of a job interview, use some of these strategies to calm your (often inevitable) nerves.

Put the Interview Into Perspective
Think of the interview as your opportunity to learn about the job, the company, and its culture. Treat the interview as a two-way street where you assess the company as much as they are assessing you. Almost all of us have been in an interview where based on your observations, or even your gut feeling, you know that this is not a place you want to work. Don't focus so much on giving a "great performance" that you lose track of the fact that you are looking for the right fit for you.

Assess Who Has More to Lose
Walking into the interview, the interviewer has much more to lose than you. All you truly have to lose is time and maybe a bit of money you spend on gas and a babysitter. However, every interview you gain experience, connections, and confidence in your ability to answer the questions. A wrong hire can cost the employer time, money, their reputation, their customers, and possibly their entire business. Think about how much more they have to lose than you next time you need to calm some of those nerves.

Practice the Three R's of Interview Preparation
The three R's stand for Research, Rehearse, and Relax. Research the industry and the company to become an expert at answering questions about why you want to work for the company and what key transferable skills you bring to the table. Prepare your interview talking points about your personal statement of value or cost-effectiveness, then rehearse it until it rolls off your tongue with ease. Last but not least, relax by revisiting the two points above. As I always tell people, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Go out there and prepare and use your next opportunity to make your own luck!

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