We all do it. We get nervous during interviews, causing us to do things that are out of character. Those pesky little butterflies cause some strange responses. I’ve had people lie to me, breath heavy over the phone, ramble, launch (see a previous blog post on launching), be 45 minutes early, shake, make inappropriate jokes, change their natural speaking accent, and otherwise fail themselves during an interview.
So here’s the good news; most hiring managers are soft on people when they are nervous. Not every job requires nerves of steel, and a good manager knows this. Here’s the bad news, sometimes our bad habits get away from us and ruin an interview that you were a good match for.
So what do you do?
First, prepare for the interview. A little stalking on who is interviewing you isn’t bad, employers kinda like this when candidates dig up some relevant and somewhat irrelevant information on the company. It means you are interested. And the more you are prepared, the more you can handle those unexpected questions thrown at you.
Second, get a good nights sleep, and don’t over caffeinate. Those nerves can keep us up at night, and too much caffeine can make us shaky the next morning. So what do you do when you can’t sleep? Breath. In the nose, out the mouth. Stay in bed and relax. Put positive intentions towards your interview the next day. Yeah, I know it sounds woo-woo, but this is Portland (Wilsonville actually).
When you do a phone interview? That’s when I hear the nervous breathing. I’ve been known to tell people to calm down by controlling their breath; again, in the nose out the mouth. See, when we get excited, or nervous, we have the same response, and that is to mouth breath. Mouth breathing is a primal calling to your system yelling “Danger!” and your heart rate goes up, you mouth breath harder, it’s a vicious circle. Voila! Then the nervous habits really start.
In the face to face interview is when the bad habits really fly. Usually caused again by your breathing.
So what do you do? First, acknowledge to yourself that you are nervous or excited. Then acknowledge to the interviewer the same thing, “Gee, I am so pumped up for this interview, I am actually surprised by how nervous I am.”
Why? The more you fight it, the worse it gets. Admitting it actually gives you permission to have those feelings, and will result in you calming down. Call it Nature’s Reverse Psychology. I’ve seen it happen after I ask people if they are nervous. I just tell them, it’s okay to be nervous, many people are. Then I change the subject to something lighter, wait for them to calm down, and then back to the interview, which is always much smoother at that point.
Remember, when you get nervous. It’s a normal human response. You won’t always be perfect, but hopefully these tips work for you in your next interview.
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