Beating the Interview Jitters

By Amanda Haddaway

It is totally normal, and expected, to be a little nervous as you go into a job interview. The best way to handle these nerves is to be prepared. Before you arrive at an interview, do your homework!

Most companies have an online presence, so it should be relatively easy for you to learn about the company. You should also familiarize yourself with the position for which you are interviewing. If possible, print out a copy of the position description and take it with you to the interview.

Other items that might be worth researching include:

  • Background of the company – how long has it been in business, how has the company changed over time, what type of work does it do, where are its offices located, who owns the company or is it publicly traded, what type of people does it hire?
  • Position description –where is the position located, what will be required of you on a daily basis, are there opportunities for growth?
  • Corporate culture – this could include items like dress code, work hours, amount of travel required, etc.

As you do your pre-interview homework, think about your knowledge, skills and abilities and how they are a good fit for the position. You’ll also want to practice answering the question of why the organization should hire you.

During the Interview

Maintain eye contact with the interviewers and use non-verbal cues to acknowledge that you are listening to them. You don’t want to get into a staring contest with the interviewer, but be alert and active in the dialogue. It’s perfectly acceptable to formulate your thoughts before answering an interview question. A brief pause before speaking is normal, so don’t be put off by short silent periods. Interviewers may pause briefly to take notes during the interview. This is also common and shouldn’t put you on edge.

Many companies utilize behavioral interview techniques. Behavioral interviewing may involve asking the job candidate to identify and describe a particular situation, including actions taken and the result or outcome. The purpose of this type of interviewing technique is to discover how the candidate handled that situation.

Questions may be posed to you in a format of “tell me about a time when…” or “give me an example of a time when…” This allows you to share previous work (paid or volunteer) or classroom experiences, and the interviewer is able to ascertain what you learned from the experience. Many companies prefer to use this interviewing technique because it provides information about a candidate that isn’t likely to be included on a résumé.

At the conclusion of the interview, it is common for the interviewer to ask you if you have any additional questions. Have a few questions prepared in advance. They can be general questions about the work environment and the type of work that the company does –or they can be specific to the position for which you are interviewing.  Being prepared is much better than trying to come up with something under pressure and stumbling in front of the interviewer.

Some interviews may include more than one interviewer. If you are a part of a panel interview, speak to all of the interviewers by looking at them while you respond. When the interview concludes, thank each person for his/her time and close with a firm handshake. It’s also appropriate to ask for their business cards so that you can send a follow-up thank you note or email after the interview.

Amanda Haddaway is a recognized career expert and leader in the human resources field. She has been quoted in numerous national publications for her HR expertise and is the author of Destination Real World: Success after Graduation and Interviewer Success: Become a great interviewer in less than one hour.

Over the past decade, Amanda has worked in many facets of human resources and marketing, including recruiting, training, employee communications, corporate compliance, social media and advertising campaign development. She currently serves as the director of human resources and marketing for Folcomer Equipment Corporation, a multi-state construction equipment dealership.

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