We can often find that we live in the anticipation of an event much more than the event itself. Why is the anticipation of the weekend the exciting part? (think ‘thank God it’s Friday’). The ideas our minds conjure as to what will happen can often leave us suffering at the hands of our own imaginations when it comes to something we’re nervous about.
So, ahead of an interview, what can you do to put yourself at ease and make the whole interview experience more enjoyable? (Or at least less anxiety inducing!)
Prepare for what you do know
Regardless of how much interview experience you already have and how much you know about the style of this upcoming interview, there are certain topics that you know you will have to prepare for. Preparation will leave your brain with less to process in the moment and allow you to focus on what you can control about the situation.
You know that there will be the opportunity to introduce yourself. Whether this is in an informal way by chatting with the interviewer beforehand, with other staff present, perhaps other candidates or within the interview itself, this opportunity will arise. So have a think beforehand about what information you would like to share when interacting in a professional setting. More advice on how you might want to answer the ‘tell us a bit about you’ question within an interview can be found here
There is always the opportunity for you to ask questions of the interviewer. An interview is just as much an opportunity for you to discover more about the place you could be working/studying within as it is an opportunity for them to find out more about you. So use this opportunity to ask about the things you’re genuinely curious to know and reflect on what questions you may want to ask before going in.
Look back on the job advertisement you found when making your initial application for this role. What skills and qualities do they mention in the job description and person specification? These will form the blueprint of the assessment criteria for the role and so could crop up in the interview questions. Get familiar with what they’re looking for so you know what topics of conversation could come up.
If you experience interview anxiety, treat it like anxiety
One of the most common treatments for anxiety conditions in the UK is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which seeks to re-frame your thinking around the situations/stimuli that make you anxious in order to change how your body reacts to them. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone who experiences interview anxiety needs CBT. However, if this method of re-framing your thinking can be an effective way to try to address other types of anxiety, why not interview anxiety?
If you go into an interview worrying about what might happen if it doesn’t go well or if you freeze up mid-way through, that’s a lot of pressure to carry in that moment. You could be distracting your brain from concentrating on the matter at hand, leading you to freeze up. Instead, remind yourself that you have been invited to interview because your application demonstrated that you meet the criteria they’re looking for, you just need to show that verbally now.
Find your rituals
I’m not talking crystals and manifesting here but if that works for you ahead of an interview, go for it! By rituals I mean the little routines and behaviours that work best to keep you calm or get you in the mindset of an interview. Whether this be breathing techniques, listening to music or eating a particular food, find a routine that you can follow beforehand to fall into the familiar.
This could be especially helpful if you have an interview online. Change the room layout a little bit so you feel like you’re somewhere different to the kitchen table you just ate breakfast at or your uni bedroom where you were writing an assignment 2 days ago. Go for a walk beforehand to clear your head and you feel like you have had a commute to get to the interview. Find your little habits that make you feel in-the-swing of an interview and use them, no matter how bizarre they might be!
Just like your exams, your brain is going to forget those little pieces of information you try to force into it in the minutes before going into an interview. You’re just as likely to become hyperfixated on trying to remember them and then trip over your words when answering the question so avoid this altogether and use the time leading up to the interview to get yourself into a calm and concentrated mindset.
Finally, be you
An interviewer is not just assessing how well you can perform in a role, they also want to see your personality so that they can ultimately assess ‘is this someone I can see myself working with?’. So don’t try to script yourself, speak naturally and confidently to give an air of self-assuredness and be friendly with those around you. Let your personality and what you would bring to the role shine.