If your or someone you know is shy, nervous and/or anxious about interviewing here are some tips that have helped me and some of my clients, hope they help you as well!
1. The Basics.
a. Plan to get a good night’s sleep before your interview if at all possible make it 8 or 9 hours. Seriously, it will make a huge difference towards helping you feel calm during your interview.
b. Likewise, eat a good healthy meal and drink plenty of fluids. Need I remind you to be sure to use the facilities before your interview?
c. Find an outfit for your interview that you feel great wearing?! Make sure it’s clean and pressed. Do some reconnaissance and if possible find out what the normal dress is for where you’re interviewing. It’s better to be over dressed (women in dresses/hose and men in nice slacks and jackets) then to be under dressed.
d. Be clean. You’d think this was common sense but I swear over the 15 years I recruited and interviewed people, there were more than a few who seemed to not know about the wonderfulness of basic soap and water. Trim up your hair and style it nicely. Guys–that goes for facial hair as well. Go for a manicure/pedicure or if you just don’t want to shell out the bucks at least run an Emory board over your nails. Clean out your nails too. There is nothing grosser than to look down at someone’s hands and see dirt.
You get the gist of the basics—when you look good you’re going to feel good which will help boost your confidence.
a. Be your best private detective. Learn about the company/business you’re interviewing….what do they sell/serve? What do they expect of their employees in terms of work and commitment? What is the atmosphere of their offices/space? i.e. if it is a technical company definitely be familiar with the software, hardware and other tools they are using. Understand how they are using them and why….just might help you land a position.
b. Find connections. Do you know anyone who has worked there before or currently? Maybe even a relative or friend of a friend. Way back when I was determined to get a job at a prestigious magazine, I found all kinds of connections from friends of friends to a cousin of a friend and sent them all letters and my resume. Be resourceful.
c. Depending on what job/position you are applying for, research as much as you can. Is it a new position or is someone leaving it? How important is it in terms of the day-to-day business at hand? If someone is leaving the position…why are they leaving?
Reconnaissance is another esteem-confidence builder. When you walk in for an interview and “know” as much as possible about what you are interviewing for as well as who and where—you will feel good about yourself. Kind of like it feels to walk in to take a test after you have studied really, really well for it and “know” each of the questions.
3. Remember your manners
a. Smile and never underestimate the power of being kind to whomever crosses your path before, during and after the interview. After a candidate left our offices, because our space was small and compact, I knew that everyone from the admin to the recruiters could “hear” and sometimes see the person being interviewed. I always asked them for their impressions.
b. Send a thank you note. Especially if you want the job. Even if you don’t, if where you are interviewing has wide connections, you want to leave a good impression. You never know who knows someone who will make a difference in your future. Trust me, as big as we all think our world is….it is really pretty darn small when it comes to bridges of opportunity.
c. Follow-up with the person you interviewed with (or if they referred you to another person/department) about a week after your interview. Keep in touch, but don’t be obnoxious. Once a week is good. If you read articles/blogs/etc. about their company/industry/environment—definitely mention one in particular and why it reminded you of them.
4. Handling your anxiety before and during your interview
a. Breathe, breathe, breathe. There are all kinds of studies that show that simply giving yourself a moment to take in a deep breath, holding it (count up to 10 sec) and releasing it and doing this 10 times can help you to relax.
b. Roll your shoulders back. Listen to your body. If you feel tight in any area, see if you can take some deep breaths and relax that particular area. IF you know some yoga stretches, definitely do some!! They will help bring heat and energy into your body.
c. Speaking of heat and energy, some of us have conditions that make our hands perspire when we are nervous. If you have this, and are not taking any medication for it, be sure to take a nice clean handkerchief with you. Nothing worse then shaking wet hands.
d. Remember that this is only an interview. This is only a person (or people). Yes, some of us have been out on the job market awhile or perhaps you are just entering the job market. If you are smart about finding out as much as you can about who you are and where you excel and follow the steps above, you will find or even create job opportunities for yourself when you need them.
Finally, I’m reading a great book that I highly recommend by Larry Ackerman called “The Identity Code: The 8 Essential Questions for Finding Your Purpose And Place in the World“…..he has written some newer books as well. Check him out, he really knows what he is talking about.