(ARA) – Most of us have been there, nervously anticipating an upcoming job interview. When we’re nervous, our body language tends to give us away. Signs take many forms. We may stammer, clench our fists, clear our throats, or tap our fingers. Certainly, during a job interview, we want to hide this telltale behavior. So what can we do to calm the jitters?
Brenda K. Raye, director of career services at Brown Mackie College – North Canton, provides some answers. She understands the jitters from both sides of the table – as a job candidate facing an important interview, and as an employer interviewing applicants who exhibit classic signs of nervousness. “‘Relax,’ is the first thing I tell students and graduates,” she says. However, that is easier said than done.
Relax. “Be you,” she tells those she coaches. “They already know you have the skills to perform the job. They got that from your resume. Now they want to see your personality. Employers look for the best fit within the company or team.”
This different perspective seems to help ease anxiety for many who face an important interview. In addition, job applicants may want to support calmness with a relaxation exercise. Methods of relaxation vary from deep breathing, as recommended by eHow, to listening to music and having a good laugh, according to The Undercover Recruiter.
Know your work ethics. Raye typically asks those seeking employment to create a list of work ethics, like hard working, dependable and the ability to work with a team or individually.
“Write those ethics down,” she says. “When prospective employers say, ‘Tell me a little about yourself,’ you can respond with descriptors of your work ethics instead of talking about your kids, living arrangements, or your dog. Stay focused on the job.” Your work ethics are your soft skills; the attributes you bring to the job in addition to technical skills. “Use every moment to sell yourself,” Raye says.
Practice, practice, practice. Be prepared. Have your family give you practice interview questions. “A few practice runs can give a big boost to your self confidence,” says Raye. The Work Coach Cafe concurs, and offers some interview questions typically asked for your practice session. Practice can help you become more comfortable when talking about yourself, and may point out any subconscious habits, like frequent use of “um,” or “you know,” when speaking.
Prepare your own questions. Once you have practiced answering interview questions, you will want to prepare to ask a few questions of your own. “Do not ask about salary or benefits,” counsels Raye. “But do ask for a business card.” You will need the contact information later for a thank you card or letter. “And yes, you will write a thank you note if you are serious about wanting the position,” she states. Email thank you notes are also acceptable.
Raye suggests asking about the next step in the process of filling the position. The answer provides you with timing of the hire. She also recommends asking about the work environment. “You may get a tour of the work area at this point,” she says.
Give yourself credit. If you are still a little nervous after all of your practice and preparation, Raye offers this advice: “If you landed an interview in the first place, that alone should let you know you’re doing a good job. You are confident enough in your skills to apply for the position. You applied correctly, and your resume has made a good impression. You can feel good about it. That in itself can cure jitters,” she says. “People put a lot of pressure on themselves. They forget to be proud of all they have accomplished so far.”
Be honest. Anxiety levels vary widely between individual people, and manifest in many different ways. If you feel you won’t get through an interview without seeming flustered because of nerves, Raye recommends taking the tack of upfront honesty from the start. “Let an interviewer know you are a bit nervous about the chance of landing the job of your dreams,” says Raye. “Most interviewers will appreciate your straightforward approach.”
Raye advises job candidates to face interviews with confidence. “When you are seeking employment, remember it’s not what the company can do for you, it’s what you can do for the company,” she says.