As one of five siblings, I learned early on as a kid that the money for football fees or the comic book I wanted wasn't going to come from my hardworking immigrant parents as they had little or nothing to spare. Because of this, I always felt motivated to pitch in, help out when I could, and this meant getting my first job at 12 years old at the comic book store, followed by a couple dozen other mall jobs like making pretzels and working with cute old ladies at See's Candies. One of the best things I've got out of that.. I'm really good at interviews. I've moved on to work for Fortune 500 companies, and now running my own business where I've hired many too.
The worst part about interviewing when you really want (or need) the job? The fact that you are flooded with anxiety at the precise moment you are aiming to show your most secure, confident self. You walk into an environment where you are unfamiliar, but want to look comfortable. You talk directly with your potential boss, wanting to come off as an old friend. You want to be seen as in control and professional, when you feel vulnerable and maybe even a little desperate. Not only that, but interviewers tend to ask you questions that prod your self esteem:
"What are your greatest accomplishments?"
"Why should I hire you?"
"What is your biggest flaw?"
If you are in the process of looking for a new job, and interviews make you nauseous, read on to get a few tips on overcoming anxiety and how to stay calm during an interview.
By now you may have seen the extremely popular Tedtalk on power poses. And while there is a little bit of controversy around how scientifically sound the studies are, there's no doubt that sitting up straight, maintaining eye contact, and making space for yourself (versus hunching over/making yourself small) is a great way to subconsciously convince your interviewer- and yourself- that you mean business.
Take the Ted speakers advice and go to the restroom before the interview and do some power poses to get yourself in the zone.
Focus on what you can do for the organization, not on yourself
At the end of the day, people want to hire you because they have a need that needs to be filled.
When you go into your interview, you should have a very clear idea of exactly what this need is, and specific action steps that you have brainstormed for how you can fill it.
Keeping the focus on the work that needs to be done, instead of on what college you went to, will make your interviewer envision you in the position, and will make you feel calmer as well by taking the focus off of yourself.
Highlight, but don't exaggerate
Another way to stay calm and be effective in an interview is to balance projecting a positive image of yourself with staying real and humble.
You want to showcase your best attributes and skills by all means, but you don't want to exaggerate your accomplishments or abilities to the point that neither you nor your interviewer buys into what you're saying.
Be honest, but be proud. Even if you don't have a lot of experience, you certainly have something to offer the company, and you need to believe that in order for the interviewer to believe it.
Have a calm, stable morning
Start your morning right to make sure that a lack of caffeine, an empty stomach, or an un-ironed shirt get you frazzled before you even start your interview. If you have stress relief techniques you employ like taking kava or practicing meditation, make sure you make time for this in the morning.
Give a firm handshake
But seriously. Give a firm handshake. Everytime.
Hopefully these tips will help you to keep your focus where it needs to be- on the position itself and your eagerness to help out, not on your inexperience or nerves.