Speaking in public is a fear shared by no small number of the population. Hence, it’s unsurprising a job interview can be a major source of stress for many people. It may not be a speech, but few would volunteer to speak about themselves in front of a possibly critical audience.
Some stress can be a good thing. A little stress can help you stay awake in an exam, or improve cognitive function for a short period of time. However, too much stress can drain you. It goes without saying that if you really want the job, there is going to be a level of stress involved in trying to nail the interview. So, how do you use your stress productively to help you achieve the goal? Here are some tips as noted by career counselor Anna Ranieri in the Harvard Business Review.
Some people find talking about themselves the easiest thing in the world to do. By all accounts, you should know you best. But in conversation about yourself, it’s unlikely you’d be asked about your greatest achievements. So practice how you’re going to say things. Learn the script about your successes. It is almost inevitable that interviewers will ask you about your resume, so you have no excuse not to know it off by heart.
Correct your mistakes
One wrong answer in a job interview, and you may feel your prospects going down the drain. Perhaps you forgot to say something. Maybe you said the wrong thing. Either way, all hope is not yet lost. You can use small phrases like “I’m sorry it just came to me that I hadn’t talked about…” or “I just thought of something else I’d like to share.”
If it comes to you as you lie, staring at the ceiling at midnight, an email can do the same job. Phrases like “I would like to clarify what I said about…” or “I think I misspoke when I said….” Now you know, that they know, what you know.
Prepare for what you’re not comfortable with
If you’re uncomfortable interviewing to a table of people, you might be best practicing to get used to it. You may be better at connecting with one person, but you can still make this work. If you know their names and positions, construct a diagram and rehearse talking to them one by one so you can connect individually. Practice eye contact and ways to interact with each one. By having a strategy of how to react, you can be far more comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.
Don’t bail on weird questions
Interviewers can try to scare you, or confuse you, or make you laugh. Any of these techniques could land you with a question that could only be considered strange. Don’t let stress overwhelm you in these cases. Start by recognising the strangeness of the question. Ask for a moment to think about it. If you do this, it might give you some breathing room to think about the motive behind the question.
If even after this, you’re still in a panicked, unthinking mode, try some coping of these strategies during the job interview:
- Take a moment. Whether it be repositioning yourself in your chair, taking a breath, or drinking some water, don’t rush just because you’re scared.
- You could reply with a question – “Did you mean this…?” “Could you explain that in another way please?”
- Remember they’re interviewing you because they want you. Just because they are asking the questions doesn’t mean you don’t have a semblance of control.
- Prepare in advance. Sometimes the biggest fear is the unknown. Practice practice practice so they can throw anything at you and you’ll come out smiling.
- Be comfortable. Dress in clothes that make you confident, and if you tend to sweat, wear clothes that hide it while not overheating you.
Stress is normal to everyone, especially in the context of a job interview. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and it may just keep you on your toes long enough to snag the job.