There are few of us who don’t feel at least a little nervous at the thought of an interview. From senior managers to recent graduates, this essential step on the job ladder can be daunting—but it doesn’t have to feel like a life-or-death situation. Whether you’re interviewing for your dream job or simply a part-time job to supplement your income, here are some techniques you can use to stay calm under interview pressure.
1. Put in time for proper preparation
Most of us are aware of the importance of pre-interview company research, but how much prep should you actually put in ahead of the big day? Cutting corners may save you time but could also cost you the job; make sure you’re knowledgeable enough about your potential employer that you can answer questions confidently about what the company does and what the role requires. On the flip side, make sure to prepare non-generic questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview, to demonstrate your interest in the company. Your preparation is key to showing you really care, so keep in mind that you can never do too much.
If you know who your interviewer is, there’s no harm in browsing his or her profile on LinkedIn. Doing so might inform some of your end-of-interview questions, and it can also offer you some peace of mind to see how your interviewer began his or her own career.
2. Arrive early, but not too early
Aim to arrive at your interview about 10 minutes ahead of time. While it can be tempting to leave yourself a wide breadth and arrive way ahead of schedule, doing so can both inconvenience your interviewer and leave you overthinking the interview while you wait. If you’re unsure how long the journey will take, check Google Maps for a rough estimate. Or, for a more accurate picture, you can give the journey a practice run before the interview.
3. Treat yourself to some pre-interview pampering
While we’re not saying you should head straight from a spa day to the interview, indulging in a treat the day before or the morning of the interview can help to settle your mind and reduce stress. Whether it’s a massage or dinner at your favorite restaurant, it can help to give your mind a chance to rest by treating yourself to something you love.
You should also consider what you can do to relax in the comfort of your own home. There are well-documented benefits of natural foods and herbs that you can take advantage of to improve your mental well-being, so that you’re able to perform optimally in the interview. From vitamin-packed rosehip oil to glucose-filled whole grains, natural products and healthy foods can often work wonders when it comes to helping you stay alert, focused, and energized.
4. Practice interviewing
For first-time interviewees—and even more experienced ones—the idea of the unknown can be intimidating. While you won’t be able to prepare for every possible interview question you’ll encounter, you should at least think about the core questions that often come up, such as “Why do you want to work in this role?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” These are common questions interviewers ask, so it pays to think about how you would answer them.
You should avoid memorizing entire answers though, as they can sound canned. Instead, focus on understanding your achievements, strengths, and ambitions, so you are prepared for questions related to those subjects. Finally, test yourself by asking a family member or friend to sit with you for a mock interview, in which the questions are not planned. This will force you to think on your feet as you would have to in a real interview. Your practice interviewer can provide you with valuable feedback on how to improve before the actual interview.
5. Take your time answering questions
When your mind is racing 100 miles an hour, you may be tempted to speak just as fast. However, this won’t make a great impression on your interviewer. Focus on mindful breathing, take your time, and don’t rush to answer a question as soon as it’s posed. Your interviewer won’t be annoyed if you take a few moments to think, and they’d rather you take your time than answer incorrectly because you’re rushing.
Don’t worry if you don’t hear or understand the question properly; politely ask your interviewer to repeat or clarify the question, to ensure you answer it appropriately. At the end of the day, we’re all human—don’t put too much pressure on yourself to deliver perfect answers right away.
Paul Richards is a long-time botanist and founder of Herbfarmacy, an online retailer selling organic skin care and beauty products that are packed with herbs grown on his farm in Herefordshire, England.