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Interviews: the "Do's and Don'ts" to beat your nerves

Interviews can be nerve racking! Follow these tips to beat your nerves.
Interviews can be nerve racking! Follow these tips to beat your nerves.

We’ve all been there. You are about to sit for an interview and then all of the sudden your nerves get the best of you. You’ve made yourself up to look extra professional, and you’ve shown up between 10 and 15 minutes earlier than necessary. While you are waiting for your interviewer, first your nerves hit you. You start fidgeting and bouncing your knees. Then you start sweating. (Whether it’s your legs, your underarms or your face, you just have sweat everywhere – it’s ubiquitous.) Your interview begins and you black out. You don’t remember what you are saying, and when you open your mouth to answer a question – no words come out. Your face gets hot, the sweat comes back for round two (granted, it HAS given you a temporary break), and you start to trip up over simple questions you know you know the answers to.

While this may be a bit dramatic for most interviews, many have gone through those dreaded “first interviews,” most likely in college when interviewing for an internship or a part-time job. Nowadays, it is ludicrous thinking to go into an interview unprepared. Star Career Academy has therefore provided you with a few tips on how to beat your nerves and control your body language so that you may not only amaze your employer at your next interview, but also hopefully land the job of your dreams. It is also a good idea to speak with the professionals at a recruiting agency or the Career Services Department at your school for interview tips before applying for positions.

Beating the Pre-Interview Nerves:

Hiring managers can expect that you will be nervous when sitting for an interview. If you are about to enter an office or meet your interviewer, and suddenly lock up with pre-interview stage freight – stop and breathe. Take a few rapid breaths, followed by a few deep breaths. Get the oxygen flowing through your body and relax your nerves with a breathing exercise.

Shake It Up
Just as athletes shake their limbs to stay loose right before a race, shake your limbs and take a few small hops just before entering the office where you will be interviewing. This will allow the adrenaline surging through your body to have an active outlet. This will especially help if you tend to fidget or tap your feet when sitting.

Your Pitch
Prepare an engaging elevator pitch that not only explains who you are and what you have done with your life – but will also make the interviewer interested in you, excited to possibly work with you, and get a clear understanding of what you are passionate about.

We’ve all heard the saying, “when you look good, you feel good.” This good feeling can definitely give you the boost of confidence you may need on an interview. With each interview that you attend, treat yourself to a new outfit. Shopping for a new, professional “interview outfit” will not only show that you are trendy and keeping up with the times, but when you are wearing something new that looks good on you, you will feel good. If you have a lot of interviews with different companies in a short span of time, don’t wear the exact same thing to each interview. If you botch one interview, or have negative feelings about the interview, wearing the same outfit to the next one will take a subconscious toll on you.

Your Body Language:

Feet on the Floor
Keeping your feet flat on the floor will help you sit up straighter. Crossing your legs will portray a sense of smugness or self-congratulations that you may not want to give off.

Sit Still
Jittering around, bouncing your knee or shaking will give off a nervous and anxious energy. Your interviewer will feel that you are uneasy or are unable to stay focused on a task.

Sit With a Slightly Forward Lean
Just like crossing your legs, leaning backwards in your chair will show that you are overly relaxed or over confidant. It also has the tendency to make your clothes sit in a way that will make you look unkempt or untidy.

Your Arms and Hands
Make sure that when you are talking to rest your hands calmly on your knees until you need to make a gesture. Make sure to keep your arms down by your sides and not crossed. Crossing your arms will give the impression that you are closing yourself off from the interviewer. While your hands are resting at your sides, make sure they don’t creep into your pockets. Putting your hands in your pockets makes you look clumsy and messy. Keeping your hands at your sides doesn’t mean they have to stay glued there. Find a good mix between talking with your hands and leaving them at rest. Hold onto a ring, necklace or pen if it will help you avoid awkward hand gestures.

Don’t Make Too Much Eye Contact
Don’t stare down your interviewer. Many people struggle with making eye contact. Making eye contact with your interviewer is a sign of respect that shows you are genuinely interested in what they have to say and that you want to be there. Looking around when they are talking to you can be seen as a sign of disrespect, while not making eye contact when answering a question makes it look like you are not prepared or that your answers are not completely true. On the other hand, the second you feel like you are making too much eye contact, keep contact for one more second, and then break away. That doesn’t mean turning your head in a completely different direction; rather, take a quick glance down at your resume, an object on their desk, or something not far off from their face in the background. You can then return your eyes, looking just past them for a moment, and then making eye contact again.

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