Falling to pieces in a job interview is something that I have experienced and witnessed from the other side of the table. And whichever side you are on it really isn’t pleasant. There is nothing more devastating than knowing you are good enough for the job but leaving the room having portrayed yourself as nervous, not in control and generally a basket case. It is worth noting that some visible nerves aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It will after all show the interviewer that getting the chance to sell yourself means a lot to you. The problem comes when your nerves and lack of confidence become debilitating and act as a barrier to showing the best version of you. So how do you give yourself the best chance to appear that you know you belong in the role? Here are seven ways to improve job Interview Confidence.
Controlled breathing will slow and regulate your heart rate. It has a tremendous positive impact on your heightened sense of nervousness. When under extreme pressure (and a job interview can be exactly that) we begin to breathe rapidly and shallowly from our upper lungs. Its vital to regulate your breathing as you will struggle to calm down without doing so. There are many techniques you can use, but this is a simple, life-saver: Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Hold your breath to the count of “three”, exhale slowly through pursed lips and relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach. You will find you regain a bit of focus and lessen the out of control feeling that irregular breathing can cause.
If one thing is going to give away the fact you are a bundle of nerves its relentlessly fidgeting. Breathing correctly can help you refrain from fidgeting. And there are other ways. Use your hands to express your points but don’t overdo it – gently resting your hands together when the interviewer is talking is a helpful technique to stay focused. Avoid caffeine and high amounts of sugar before the interview. Job Interview confidence is as much about what the interviewer thinks of you as how you feel when in this pressurized situation.
Posture is a vital nonverbal form of communication that shows others how you feel about yourself. If you slump, avoid eye contact, or turn your body away from the interviewer, you may come across as uninterested or lacking in confidence. Ensure that you sit straight with a strong core, pull your shoulders back and keep both feet flat on the floor. This posture will make you appear and feel confident even before you say a word. Practice this posture beforehand!
Keep Eye Contact
Ensure eye contact when meeting initially and shake hands. Smile when you do it – it’s a job interview not a confrontation. Maintain eye contact as you listen to the questions your interviewer asks. If you look away, it may appear that you are distracted or indifferent. Match your attentive eye contact with an appropriate facial expression. Convey interest with an open and positive expression. Keep it natural and don’t stare. It is entirely natural to look away when you are thinking of an answer to a question that is asked. If you are being interviewed by a panel, either look at the person asking the question or vary between all of them. They WILL be looking at you, but they aren’t trying to intimidate you. There will be times in an interview when you will be delivering a well thought out and passionate response. These are the times when it’s a MUST for you to keep eye contact. Show them that you really mean what you say!
Pause and Think
Pausing will show that you are putting genuine thought into your response. It will make you seem more confident rather than panicking and giving a quickfire rambling answer that does you more harm than good. By taking your time you will be giving a better answer, it’s as simple as that. Pause for 3-5 seconds before giving a response to a question. 5 seconds may seem like a long time, but this is only because of your heightened state and natural nervousness. It gives you time to regulate your breathing as well as think about your response. Now obviously there will be some questions you shouldn’t be pausing before. For instance “Tell me about yourself?” should be a quick response as you have answered this countless times. But for other more challenging questions even a 10-20 second pause (possibly with notification to the interviewer that you are thinking) can be acceptable.
Keep a Positive Mindset
Most people have had a bad interview experience. This is the one memory you do not want in your head before you walk into an interview. Have a think about a positive experience you have recently had (a recent success in work is a good one) to get you in the right frame of mind. If you are meant to get this job, you will get it. DO NOT tell yourself this is your dream job. Tell yourself that YOU are their dream employee. If you don’t get this job you will learn from the experience. Remember that you have been invited for interview, they want to see what you have to offer. It’s not the end of the world if someone else gets the role. This IS NOT the most important thing you will ever do in your life no matter if it feels like it. Bear in mind that it’s a two way process. You have to figure out if this the right job for you as much the interviewer has to determine if you are right for the role.
Now all of the above are great techniques but they are almost useless without the key one. Preparation is the key to job interview confidence. If you aren’t prepared fully for what this interview may through at you then it can quickly fall apart. Now that is a separate blog in itself but its certainly worth noting that it doesn’t just mean preparing for the questions that you will be asked. It also means researching the company. It also means making sure you give yourself enough time to arrive at the interview location so you aren’t flustered.