The key to beating job interview jitters is to remember that it's OK to feel nervous. Just don't look nervous.
Few social interactions feel as fraught as the job interview. After all, you are meeting with a stranger whose good opinion of you has a significant impact on your future, both professional and financial.
So you’d be forgiven for experiencing some anxiety. However, anxiety can detract from the good impression you’re trying to make. If your jitters are distracting enough, your interviewer will remember only those, not your stellar qualifications. It can even lead to a bad impression — you can go blank, for instance.
By now you are probably ready for some good news. Well, here it is: You do not need to eliminate your job interview anxiety, only the appearance of it.
How? All you have to do is remember the Three P’s:
Preparation: Knowledge is power, as they say, and you will feel more powerful if you have researched the company in question, arrived 15 minutes early, worn clothes appropriate for your potential workplace, had enough sleep the night before, and remembered to bring extra copies of your resume. Consider scoping out the venue in advance, so you won’t get lost or be late. In addition to your resume, bring paper, pens, business cards (if you have them) and your calendar (in case they want to schedule another interview). Don’t come on an empty stomach and go easy on the caffeine that day.
Practice: The more you do something, the better you get at it. So find an interview buddy (or hire a professional) and rehearse talking about your strengths. Extra points if you are able to frame those strengths in terms of what you have to offer to this specific employer. Rehearse talking about your weaknesses, too, so that you can address them in ways that are 1) honest and 2) expressed in the best possible light. Finally, practice how to explain why you left your last job, or why you intend to leave.
Poise: Use the tools that actors rely on to control stage fright; namely, square your shoulders, sit or stand up straight, breathe from your diaphragm, and unclench your fists. Finally, focus on your interviewer — after all, putting your attention on someone else is a time-tested way to “forget” anxiety.
Break a leg!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.