Whatever stage you are in your marketing or events career, and even if you’ve already attended a number of interviews, this doesn’t mean you won’t suffer from nerves from time to time. Sometimes most unexpectedly. In the same way that even the most talented actors might experience stage fright, so it’s possible a particular question or style of interviewer might throw you. And just like stage actors, it pays to have a few tricks up your sleeve, just in case.
Break the ice early
How you go into the interview and start it off can really set the tone for your sense of calm - so it’s always a good idea to try and engage in some initial more relaxed communication early on, maybe opening up a conversation with the Receptionist, or include a more informal question to your interviewer at your greeting, so you have a moment to get into your stride and find your natural persona and voice early on.
Focus on Experience
In times of stress, it can be all too easy to focus on the elements of a role you feel you can’t do, or that you think you’ll find most challenging, instead of considering the experience you do have and your key strengths. So it’s important to remind yourself that if the recruiters didn’t think you could do the job you wouldn’t have been invited for interview. If, for example, you’re experienced in organising public events but the client is looking for someone to organise B2B seminars, they clearly recognise your transferrable skills. If they have that confidence, so can you.
Taking a bit of time just in advance of the interview to review and remind yourself of your experience, all that you have achieved to-date and your particular strengths will make you feel more relaxed during the interview process.
If anxiety kicks in during an interview, it can be very difficult to concentrate on what the interviewer is saying. You might even ask a question towards the end of the interview that the interviewer has already covered. This can create the impression that you are not paying attention or that you are indifferent to the role, even if it’s the perfect career move for you.
It is imperative to listen to the interviewer, even while you fight nerves, as this will help you answer questions fully and enable you to ask unanswered questions at the end of the interview.
One idea, that works for some people, is to internally repeat what the interviewer is saying to you. So inside your head you hear, “What [what] are [are] you [you] looking [looking] for [for] in [in] your [your] next [next] role? [role?]” This is an odd, but for many people powerful, technique but don’t try it for the first time in an interview! You can test it out listening to an audio book.
Practise deep, regular breathing to remain calm during interview. Keep it natural and slow and allow yourself to pause. If you find yourself tensing up, breathing out a little longer than you breathe in triggers an automatic relaxation. Try it.
Stop and Ask Questions
Taking time to stop and consider your answer during an interview can be a great way to calm your nerves. It is important to remember that there is no rush with the interview and if you are not quite sure about the question or you need time to consider your answer, take the time. You won’t be shown the door for pausing and considering a question - and your response - carefully. There’s no prize for answering the questions in the quickest time. Ask for clarification if you need it.
Turn to Drink!
In most interviews, you will be offered a glass of water or there will be water on the table. If you’re talking a lot and are concerned your throat may dry out this this will be a reassuring presence. But taking a sip of water can also be a useful delaying tactic, giving you time to think about the question and your response. Of course, the interviewer will know what you’re doing, but you won’t be penalised for it.
Don’t take ice if is offered (very cold drinks restrict the throat) and politely decline offers of tea or coffee. Stick to water.
Feel Tense? Use it to your Advantage.
If you find yourself tensing up, notice where you’re feeling most tense and - if you can do so inconspicuously - briefly tense those muscles a little tighter and then release. You’ll usually find you revert to a more relaxed state.
Keep the End in Mind
When you start feeling nerves during the interview, just remember, it will soon be over! Few interviews are life threatening - the worst that can happen is you don’t get the job and if that happens there will always be other opportunities in the future. Treat interviews seriously, of course, but most will take an hour or an hour and a half, even for the most senior roles.
Visualise yourself leaving the interview with your head held high feeling you’ve done your best, or visualise telling your partner, family or friends about it later - this will help you separate yourself from your ‘in the moment’ anxiety.
And at the End
If you feel your nerves have got the better of you, there is no harm feeding this back to the interviewer, either via your recruitment consultant, or with the interviewer at the end.
You’ll find that your nerves will not have been as obvious as you think - and any interviewer will be impressed when they do see someone whose nerves come to the fore - but then manages to work through them and still do a good interview.
Of course, the best way to stay calm in an interview is to turn up well prepared, something we’ve covered in some detail in previous blogs, including;
At Regan & Dean we work hard to ensure that whether our candidates are being interviewed for senior marketing jobs or opportunities in event management they feel well briefed and have all the guidance they need to stand out. Always talk to your Consultant before you go in for an interview - they’ll be able to give good advice and a bit of a pep talk to help you stay calm - and be the best you can be.