Swerve those interview nerves with careers adviser and former student / graduate recruiter Pablo Costa 

Swerve those interview nerves with careers adviser and former student / graduate recruiter Pablo Costa 

Interviews and presentations, presentations and interviews…these two activities cause more anxiety and stress to your typical student than pretty much anything else. Tell me if I am wrong, but what other academic activity keeps you from sleeping normally, or is an incessant thought in your head? 

You might say to me, Pablo…err, hello!… have you ever heard of assignment deadlines or exams?…and I would say pah!…you’ve faced those academic hurdles time and time again – and you certainly know what to do…you organise your time, you do your research, you structure your paragraphs and away you go. And to be honest, a presentation is more or less the same thing, except you present your findings verbally and obviously rehearse beforehand. And depending on your degree course, you’ve probably done a few presentations by now, so the nerves are no longer “Aaargh!” and more “ahh…ok…I’ve been here before, it’s not so bad.” 

So, that leaves us with interviews. Why do they make us so nervous? Well, when I was a graduate recruiter, I conducted focus groups (with over 200 candidates) post-interview and asked them that very question.

Here are the top three reasons and how we can mitigate them: 

“I really wanted the role so I was nervous” 

Squash those nerves by: 

● Understanding that it’s normal to be nervous. Guess what? Those interviewers were in the same position as you and they were nervous. So was I when I did my first few interviews, and so is everyone else. It’s okay. You’re human.

● Realising that you are not being judged on your nerves. There is no box on the interviewer evaluation sheet that states, “how often did the candidate say “err”?  or “how nervous did they look?” 

● Realising that, yes – you really want the job, but, guess what? Companies/organisations really want you, your skills and your potential. They are interested in you, why else would they have invited you to come in for an interview? They also know that you are looking at other companies/organisations, so they want you to see that they are welcoming and professional, which could be ultimately a reason why you choose them over your other options. 

“I don’t do interviews that often, so I wasn’t used to it” 

Squash those nerves by:

● Rehearsing every day for 2 weeks before the real interview by practising the intro questions, competency questions, and technical questions (if applicable) out loud. That way you can calm your nerves because you have done the interview 14 times before the real thing.  

● Making the above even more realistic by copying and pasting an image of an interviewer onto your screen and rehearse as if you were in front of real interviewers (sounds daft, but it works).

● Finding out if you are going to have a competency or a strengths-based interview (if it is a competency based interview, make sure you know about the STAR technique).

● Booking a mock interview with the Careers Centre.

“The surroundings affected me”  

Squash those nerves by: 

● Realising that the recruiters want you to get the job. It’s in their best interest that you do well.

● Getting used to surroundings: have a look online for pictures of the organisation’s offices to see what themeeting rooms could look like – sounds too easy…it is. Get your brain used to the furniture, walls, even what the interviewers might be dressed in. Let’s get your brain comfortable with external factors.

● Realising that the surrounding are just surroundings and that the interviewers are normally nice people. They aren’t trained to be horrible, but they are trained to not give away too much positive feedback/comments during the interview. We, as humans, however, are used to positive comments all the time so not experiencing this in an interview can feel unnatural.

What else can I do? 

Well, you could come along and learn more at my Strategies For Interview Nerves presentation on Tuesday March 28. You can find more details of this and how to book a place below: