As job seekers we may feel more confident creating a CV and a cover letter than we do in a job interview, or vice versa. When it comes to finding a job, the two elements go hand - in a job search, you must be prepared to both send in a written application and attend the consequent interview or interviews to secure the role.
It’s particularly understandable why so many of us find the interview side of things to be so challenging. You’re effectively meeting a stranger – sometimes more than one - face to face, or more recently virtually. It’s an unfamiliar environment, and the pressure is on to sell yourself to their organisation. The truth is though, that each of us is perfectly capable of doing this, provided we’re being interviewed for a role that is right for us.
The challenge we have with interviews is not necessarily to do with lack of ability, but is more connected to the way we perceive the interview process - and ourselves. Simply put, if we’re low on inner confidence, we’re going to be anything between nervous and terrified at the prospect of an interview. When our future and our livelihood are arguably dependent on the outcome of that interview, it just intensifies this pressure.
This leads us to the age-old question of how to be confident in an interview. It doesn’t matter how many times we do it, it’s still scary, especially if there’s a lot riding on our performance! It’s all very well saying we must boost our confidence, but what does that actually mean? Can you ‘turn up’ your confidence the way you turn up the central heating?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic solution, but there are certainly some practical steps you can take to start feeling more confident in yourself prior to the interview:
It may sound a strange thing to do, but it’s when we feel we haven’t practiced doing something enough that we feel most nervous about it. This is partly why we can sometimes freeze up when interviewers are asking us questions.
Practice beforehand by getting hold of a list of common interview questions and answering them whilst looking at yourself in the mirror.
Keep an eye on your body language, and although this may sound silly, make sure you’re opening your mouth enough when you speak, this helps to articulate your words clearly.
Listen to yourself and how you are answering typical questions. We all have this functionality on our phones or our computers. Record yourself; and listen back to your voice to check your tone and whether you’re using any ‘filler’ words or sounds.
When we’re nervous we can often end up speaking in a monotone and/or too quickly, or saying ‘umm’ a lot, so it’s worth consciously working on pace and tone before the interview.
Sounds awful doesn’t it, but it works! Get a friend, relative or colleague to play the role of the interviewer, asking you the questions. Alternatively, if you’re working with a career
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coach as part of your job search strategy, they may offer mock interview sessions as part of their suite of services. This may be a very useful exercise as they might spot some mannerisms or speaking habits that you’re simply not aware of. They may also help you to articulate your strengths and achievements in a better way.
We as job candidates are often asked about our CVs in interviews and if we’re not prepared we can get caught on the hop and end up feeling silly for not being able to talk about our own experience.
Re-read your CV the night before your interview and think about the angles the interviewer may take when asking you about it. Take a copy of the CV to have in front of you in the actual interview room too. There’s nothing wrong with referring to this during the interview, and just having it there can help calm the nerves.
We’re more confident - and also more motivated - when we’ve spent time feeling at our best! There’s nothing worse than reaching for that one shirt you really want to wear and finding it’s in the wash!!
Depart for your interview in good time so you don’t end up running late during your journey and panicking.
One of the most significant changes recently has been a transformation to online interviews. Don’t risk interrupting the interview with a faulty connection, so check everything is working beforehand. Log in to the call a few minutes before the allocated time, this will ensure you’re ready when it goes live.
This type of anxiety can drain our confidence and prey on any feelings of doubt, yet it is so easily avoidable. Plan ahead.