Calm your farm! How to overcome interview nerves

Ever heard rap god Eminem’s Lose Yourself?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the hit 2002 song, the opener goes like this: “If you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip?”

While Eminem was rhyming about his rise to fame, the same can be said about fronting an interview for the job of your dreams; it’s your one opportunity to tell your potential employers why they simply must hire you. But if you let your nerves get the better of you, forget it!

Unless you’re an alien, most candidates will get nervous in the hot seat. You know the score; sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, etcetera.

When we perceive the stakes are high, our body can’t distinguish the high stakes of a job interview from the high stakes of running from a bull in Spain.

The body reacts the same way, sending out the fight-or-flight response which would make complete sense if we were running from a raging bull, not sitting opposite a panel of four.

This fight-or-flight response makes it difficult to think clearly because our focus is on hiding our anxiety, therefore our attention is divided. When this happens, people’s thoughts move faster so they feel they need to rush into an answer without thinking it through, while others just draw blanks.

Whether you are nervous by nature or nonchalant, it’s imperative to remain cool, calm and collected during the interview process. After all, it’s your one shot to shine!

Here are our top three tips for keeping it together during an interview:

Tip 1: Be prepared

The more time you spend preparing for your interview, the more confident you’ll be. Candidates who have done their homework and can articulate how their skills and qualifications align with the position will be better prepared. Rehearsing what you'd like to say in advance can help you recall important information when anxiety strikes. When preparing for the interview, it also pays to plan your outfit in advance so you don’t feel frazzled before you even get there.

Tip 2: Get a head start

In the case of a job interview, there’s no such thing as fashionably late. Feeling rushed when you arrive at the interview by not allowing enough time to get there, or by getting lost or not finding a park, can all increase nervousness, not calm us down. Bottom line – map out your route prior to the interview and leave home with plenty of time to negotiate the traffic and find a park. You might even want to do a dress rehearsal in the days leading up to the interview so you’re super prepared.

Tip 3: Change your mindset

With a panel of four people sitting opposite you, firing away questions, it can begin to feel like an interrogation. But it’s important to remember you’re also interviewing the employer to see if what they’re offering is a good fit for you. If you think of a job interview as an exam or a test you’ll only become more nervous. Instead, try to imagine the interview as a knowledge exchange between two people who are getting to know each other. This will alleviate the sense of pressure and help you feel less nervous before and during the interview.

At the end of the day, if you let nerves get the better of you, you won’t come off as a confident contender. Employers want to hire the best and brightest, so if they see someone who perceivably lacks confidence, they will question your ability to do the job, which means you might miss out.

Category: 
Interview, Job Search

Be your own brand

The talent market is more competitive than ever. When you interview for a job, you’re essentially selling something – brand you!

As you prepare for interviews, consider the messages you want to promote to potential employees, along with your values, mission and goals. It’s important to be able to quickly and clearly articulate who you are and what you have to offer as a personal brand.

Just like company brands, your personal brand is what sets you apart from the pack – it’s the collective group of values and objectives that differentiate you from competitors in your field.

Defining and promoting a strong personal brand that sets you apart will help raise your profile and make you more marketable. Even if you’re not looking for work, having a personal brand is a great way to build contacts and enhance your career prospects for the future.

Here’s our top four tips for building your own brand:

Tip 1: Understand your offer

Before you can build your brand, you have to identify the primary “product” (services, resources, special ability) that you’re selling. Personal branding requires a comprehensive understanding of your strengths, skills, passions and values, along with the ability to harness this information to stand out from the crowd. Start by identifying what makes you unique then put together a key statement about yourself – this is your brand positioning.

Tip 2: Develop a vision, values and mission

Without establishing a clear vision, your career is unlikely to grow and prosper. Think hard about where you want to go career-wise, and reflect on your aspirations for the future, as this will form part of your vision. Like all big brands, you should consider your personal values and mission. Do you admire honest and integrity? Are you reliable? Consider your core values in developing your own personal mission statement, which will bring focus and purpose to your professional life.

Tip 3: Audit your presence

Your personal brand is only a click away from being viewed by recruiters, managers and potential employers. Always think of yourself as a brand and maintain consistent messaging through all your marketing channels – this includes your CV and social media profiles. A personal blog or website are great ways to strengthen your brand by helping your target market understand what you offer, highlight what you’re good at and showcase what you’ve achieved in the space.

Tip 4: Maintain momentum

Now that you have a personal brand, you want to do your best to validate and promote it. Large corporations work hard to maintain the look and feel of their brand, and as an individual, you should do the same. Every interaction or piece of information shared should reinforce your brand positioning – just be sure to remain consistent and true to your words at all times. 

Category: 
Interview, Job Search

How to Talk About Your Strengths and Weaknesses

When gearing up for a job interview, there are many types of questions you can easily prepare for. You know who you are, your aspirations, and your career history to date. The most dreaded of all interview questions however, will ask the candidate to analyse their strengths and weaknesses, and on the surface this style of question can seem like a trap. While self-analysis may seem intimidating, the interview panel is really just interested in getting to know you better, finding out more about the way you think and seeing whether you are able to learn from your experiences.

How do I talk about my strengths?

There are probably lots of things that you are good at, but in this situation you need to choose a strength that will help you win over the panelists. Have a look at the position description, and see how  the most important elements of the role align with your own skills. If they value communication skills, find a way of talking about your own without parroting their exact language back to them. You could talk about the way you interact with clients, or your passion for writing. Remember that an interview is all about presenting the best version of yourself, so take this opportunity to really show off your skills. Talk about your strengths, times when you have used them, feedback you have received and any efforts you have made to progress in this area.

Example of a good answer:

“I would say that one of my strengths is my ability to work well under pressure. In my most recent role we often had to deliver products to our clients within very narrow time frames which meant that there was the potential for a lot of stress in the workplace. I came up with a great system for managing these projects which is used by the entire office now, and my boss actually  asked me to talk to my colleagues about some of the other methods I use to keep calm in the face of a deadline.”

How do I talk about my weaknesses?

Talking about your weaknesses can be a little more difficult. Many people will try to mask a strength as a weakness such as being a “perfectionist” or “caring too much”, however you won't find many interviewers who haven't heard these answers hundreds of times before. Try for more sincerity, think of something which you may not be amazing at, or a skill you may be missing, which will not directly impact your abilities in this particular role. Demonstrating that you are aware of this weakness and have been taking steps to better yourself will also impress the panel, much more than if you appear to be acknowledging the weakness for the first time.

Example of a good answer:

“I've actually spent a lot of time working on my public speaking skills.  I used to be quite shy in front of crowds, but I have had to speak at several conferences in the past two years so I started taking advantage of any opportunity to practise with lower stakes. I spoke in front of several staff functions and then moved on to speaking in front of bigger crowds. I am still working to combat my nerves and hone my skills, but I'm actually starting to enjoy it.” 

Category: 
Interview, Job Search