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How to deal with interview nerves

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

In the last 20 years at Allen Associates, I’ve seen a lot of Candidates and interviewed a fair few to join our highly successful team here. While there’s no magic recipe to guarantee complete success, nerves can play a large part in whether people are able to impress. Of course, this is understandable and hiring managers will do their best to look past this, to put you at your ease so that you have the best chance to shine. However, there are a couple of simple things you can do to ease anxiety, stay positive and make the most out of the opportunity in front of you.

Psychologists suggest that the people who cope best under pressure are those who are able to adopt a ‘positive stress mindset’. If you can recognise the good in stressful situations and use this to help you focus, if you can see the benefits of rising above the challenge and the ways in which this can help you learn new things, you’re more likely to succeed. So, try to reduce any nerves by picturing the interview as a chance to prove yourself, rather than imagining potential stumbling points.

One thing that will always help with confidence is doing your research. You’re less likely to be anxious about unexpected questions if you’ve conducted a thorough examination of the job description, anticipated common questions and read all the information you can get your hands on about your potential Employer. By figuring out what’s important to them as a company, what they’re looking for in a member of staff and some common talking points, you’ll be able to guide conversation rather than being a passive participant in interview. On the other hand, it’s important not to overthink things. Don’t make yourself nervous by attempting to remember everything but try to commit a few key facts to memory.

After that, it’s time to take care of yourself. We all know that job hunting can be stressful and, as basic as it sounds, poor sleep, exercise and eating can really affect your performance. It’s estimated that two-thirds of adults fail to spend the recommended eight hours with their eyes closed in bed and that, due to unproductivity, this could be costing the UK £30 billion a year. So, when it comes to preparing for your interview, don’t overlook this – especially the night before that all-important meeting. My advice is to do your preparation in advance. Get everything ready to go for the morning, such as travel details and your portfolio, before spending the evening relaxing, switching off and taking a breather.

Interview dress is also an important consideration. While looking smart in order to create a good impression is key, choosing an outfit which makes you feel confident and comfortable can also help you to get in the right mindset. Take a look at the dress code in the company you’re applying to beforehand in order to plan accordingly. If you look and feel the part, this will inevitably help you as you walk through the door for the first time.

Sometimes it’s impossible to banish the nerves completely, so try to use this to your advantage by tapping into the adrenaline you’re feeling to keep you going. While each of us deal with anxiety in different ways, there are a couple of tricks you can keep up your sleeve. Psychologist, Amy Cuddy, suggests that adopting certain postures, even when we don’t feel confident, can help us to feel more at ease. When you walk into the room, try looking at how your interviewers are sat and assume a position that you feel is natural, as well as appropriate for the situation. In general, the basic rule is to open up your body language, conveying a willingness to communicate rather than closing off your body with crossed arms and legs.

Above all, don’t let nerves get the better of you by rushing through your interview. Take your time to answer questions because you only get one chance to impress. While you don’t want to appear overconfident, you also don’t want to sell yourself short. Try making a list of the top things you have to bring to the role and refer to these when you get the chance. Remember that it’s a recruiter’s job to check you have the necessary skills and it’s your job to question them – to make sure this is a company you really want to work for. Managers are individuals with different personalities, so try to establish a connection when you meet someone for the first time. When you feel as though you’re getting to know them (even just a little bit) you’ll find that any worries will quickly disappear.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 we opened our first London office, to service Clients and Candidates in the capital.  

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