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Banish Job Interview Nerves

May 15, 2010

Random statement: I keep reading the title of this post as ‘British Job Interview Nerves’. That’s a post for another time. Know any Brits I can ask about their nerves? 


Anyway miss-readings aside I’ve been to a few job interviews this year. Each one gets easier and easier and I get more and more confidant, but I’m actually a pretty shy person and the pre-interview nerves never go away. I get nervous in situations when I meet strangers who are going to judge me, but I think that’s a pretty standard reaction. So this is what I do:

Be Prepared. As every Scout worth his salt knows preperation is key. Get your outfit sorted and ironed the night before, pack your bag, print off a copy of the job ad and the resume and cover letter you applied with (ideally you’ll have saved these when you applied. Saving them with the name of the place or job description makes it easier to find again.) Have some questions written down to ask the interviewer, as well as some answers to common interview questions. Visualise the interview. See yourself being witty, charming and thoughtful. See yourself kicking interview ass!

But Not Too Prepared. Just as with exams there comes a point when studying more starts to make you feel stressed rather than cool, calm, and collected. Make sure you’ve got everything you need, think about it and write as many lists as you need to, obsess and obsess and do whatever you have to do but as soon as you feel comfortable and ready  STOP. Continuing to prepare will make you feel like the issue is too big, you’re not ready, you can’t do it etc. You can’t know exactly what they’ll ask, what they’ll be like or what sort of personality they’re looking for, all you can do is get to the point where you feel prepared and then go about your normal life. This is just an hour out of your life. Relax. It’s not such a big deal.  

Be Yourself. Seriously. You’ll have to work with these people if you’re successful, so you might as well be yourself from the beginning. Dress in a sharp, snappy, clean, neat, & appropriate version of what you’re most confidant in. Minimal skin is prob still a good rule though. Wearing something that makes you feel sassy and confidant, well, makes you behave sassy and confidant. For some peeps a three piece suit gives them sass and cojones to spare. For me it’s black blazer, cream lace skirt, black stockings, high-high heels and lashings of eye-liner. 

Be Early. Not only will you ensure that you get there in time in case something goes awry (like, I don’t know, missing a connecting bus and having to walk across an entire suburb in your new 4 inch heels) but you’ll have time to sit down, have a coffee and listen to your ass-kicking playlist. Which brings me to…

Music. Put on some brag-a-licous hip-hop, super angry metal or anything that gets you in an ass-kicking frame of mind. For me I like Brother Ali’s Bad Motherfucker, Pt II on repeat and up as high as my ears can stand. While listening to this song I was strutting down the street like I was going to smash some shit up. (Yes, I look real tough with my shiny shoes and glasses.I see you doubters doubting, I see you haters hating) I also like to mouth the words, but I will turn my head away so you wont see me do it. Ahem. The aim of this tip is to get pumped up, hyped up, psyched up, and ready to go in swinging. Use whatever you have in your ipod to get the vibe. 

Fake It. Yes, in conjunction with my advice to ‘be yourself’ I also advise faking it. Confidance that is. You’re heading into a situation where you are being judged against an unknown critera. No matter how hard you have prepared the night before, nerves are inevitable. Nervousness dulls your personality and tends to not leave a favorable impression even though everyone is bundles of nerves, sweat and sick stomachs in these types of situations. Act confident.  Fake it ’til you make it. Once you start acting a certain way, it’s usually only a short while until it becomes true!

So basically all you have to do is: be prepared, but don’t over do it, be yourself, but fake confidence, arrive early, have a coffee (or hot chocolate with whipped cream and a choc-chip cookie) and get psyched by listening to some fighting tunes. 

It works for me. My wide smile hides my shaking hands and in spite of my massive nerves, I manage to be both charming and coherent.

Or so I like to tell myself.

Have you got any interview hints, tips or stories to share?


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