I hung up and gave an impromptu fist-pump in the air, cell phone still clutched in my hand. Then I immediately texted my best friend the news: I got the interview! It took only a few hours, however, for the euphoria to wear off and the anxiety to take root. Being interviewed is a nerve-wracking ordeal, no matter how many times you’ve been through the process, which for me was only a handful. So I decided to approach the interview like any lifelong school nerd would-by preparing for it it as much in advance as possible like I would for an important exam. I wanted to feel mentally and physically ready way before that introductory handshake so I could focus on nailing the interview questions instead of quelling the nausea in my stomach. Here are the strategies I used to bolster my confidence and ultimately land the job offer.
1. Research your interviewer beforehand if possible.
When setting up the interview, be sure to ask for and write down the name of the person (or people) who will be interviewing you. Then use the Internet sleuthing skills you’ve gained from years of navigating Google and Facebook to find key background information on your interviewer. The info you find could provide a talking point during the actual interview, but more importantly, you’ll feel less intimidated if you’ve seen a picture and know a little history about your interviewer. Although it may seem pointless to discover that your interviewer coaches tennis at a local high school, if you can imagine him hitting tennis balls in shorts and a visor, it may make him seem more human and less scary.
2. Plan out your entire appearance the day before.
Battling your outfit or hair the morning of the interview will only serve to incite anxiety. Pick out an outfit at least a day before that’s both professional and comfortable. You may love the look of a skirt suit, but if you know your pencil skirt will dig into your ribs or require constant adjusting, go with the pants instead. Similarly, if you have long hair that you’re constantly fiddling with like I do, wear it half up or in a neat bun so you don’t find yourself nervously flipping it back or tucking it behind your ears. The point here is, if you’re not comfortable with any part of your appearance, it will show and likely prove distracting to your interviewer. Plan all aspects of your appearance in advance-down to the earrings and makeup you plan to wear-so you can be confident in your choice and calmer the once the big day arrives.
3. Exercise some part of your body before walking into the interview.
This may seem like strange advice, but it’s a guaranteed nerve-buster. I’m not asking you to run a mile in your suit and heels before walking into the interview, but moving your major muscles will release tension and endorphins and give you a positive mental boost. Start by tightening one fist for five seconds, then releasing it and repeating the process up that arm, down the next and throughout the rest of your body. Once you’re down to your toes, I promise you’ll feel significantly more at ease. When your body is relaxed, it naturally helps to calm your thoughts, too, so your mind will stay clear and focused.
4. Keep in mind that an interview is a two-way street.
The scariest part of an interview is the knowledge that every move you make and every word you utter is being evaluated. But if you can remind yourself several times before and during the interview that you’re also there to form opinions about the company, it will help take all the pressure off of you. Finding a job is similar to dating; of course you want to do everything in your power to impress the other person, but it should also be your goal to learn as much as possible about the person
5. Give yourself a mental pre-interview pep talk.
The few final moments in the waiting room before the interview starts can elicit the greatest anxiety. Instead of mentally running through all the possible questions and answers you’ve rehearsed for the 17th time, take those few idle minutes to give yourself a mental pep talk. Remind yourself how smart, personable and qualified you are, and repeat, “I will rock this interview” over and over. It may sound corny, but it truly helped boost my confidence so I was prepared to make a strong first impression. Keep in mind that you beat out several other applicants just to get to the interview stage. That means you’ve already impressed your interviewer, and now all you have to do is reinforce that positive opinion. Smile, show your enthusiasm for the company and share stories to back up all the great educational and professional experience on your resume. Good luck!