Not everyone is a natural when it comes to job interviews. I’m certainly not, so I understand these struggles first hand. Whether it’s nervousness, stress, anxiety, or a combination of it all, we sometimes find ourselves in an interview with absolutely no idea of how to “wow” the interviewer even if we believe we’re the perfect candidate for the job.
If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. According to Small Business Trends, about 93% of candidates feel anxious while being interviewed even if they took ample time to prepare. Performing well in an interview can really be what lands you a job, so we’re here with these tips to help you perform better during your interview.
What causes us to perform badly during an interview?
There can be a variety of things getting in the way of you having a stellar interview. Below are some of the most common causes of poor interview performance.
Nerves or stress
As we said before, many interviewees feel stressed or anxious while being interviewed. At some point in time, every single person has been there. Even the most confident and personable people had to sit in that hot seat to land the job they’re at now.
Given that most people experience this nervousness, it is unfortunate that it can sometimes get in the way of you landing a job offer. As much as we hate to say it, in some instances, it’s true. Here’s why.
Nervousness can sometimes cause us to be quiet, articulate our thoughts poorly, or even seem disinterested. From a hiring manager’s perspective, this can sometimes come off as the interviewee not caring about the job, not being a great fit, or being ill-capable of excelling in the role. Again, it is super unfortunate. However, it isn’t always the end-all-be-all if the hiring manager understands your nervousness. What will matter most is that you try your best to fight through it, which we’ll talk about in a second.
If you show up to an interview having done no research on the company, the role, or your interviewer, this can often be noticeable, especially if you’re being interviewed by an experienced hiring manager.
Think about it this way. If you try out for a sports team without having practiced at all or having read up on any of the rules, you’re probably not going to make the varsity team. That is to say, you can’t expect to reap the benefits without putting in the work first. Interviews are no different. The only way to increase your chance of success is to be prepared.
Not responding to questions well
Now, let’s say your nerves are in check and you did your research on the company. Great! But that isn’t all it takes to do well. The bulk of the interview is going to be you responding to questions from the interviewer, so you’ll need to impress them with your responses.
Ultimately, interviewers are looking for responses that paint a picture for them of your past experiences to see if you’ll be able to accomplish the responsibilities of the role they’re trying to fill. However, that doesn’t mean respond with what you think the interviewer wants to hear. We’ll go over that soon.
How you can fix it
Now that we’ve been able to identify some potential pitfalls in your interview process, let’s talk about what steps you can take to improve.
Practicing relaxation techniques
Obviously, if you’re under a lot of stress and feeling extremely anxious about your interview, something as simple as counting to 10 and taking deep breaths isn’t what’s going to help you feel a sense of calm. Instead, try some of the following:
- Reduce the importance of the event in your mind: If you’re heading into your interview thinking this is the moment that is going to change your whole life, stop right there. At the end of the day, all it is is a conversation. That’s it. If you place less importance on this conversation, it can help reduce your stress.
- Pursue positive thoughts: Put positive thoughts into your mind, even if it’s forced. Instead of saying to yourself, “I’m not ready. They’re going to hate me. I can’t do this,” think, “I’m a good fit for this job. I can do this. This is a great opportunity, good or bad.”
- Try progressive muscular relaxation: If mental mantras aren’t really your thing, progressive muscular relaxation may be a better method. Essentially, this technique is one that has you tense certain muscles and slowly release them. You’ll be so focused on these steps that you’ll think less of your interview. Here’s a video on how to do it.
- Address the worst-case scenario and dismiss it: Now, you may be thinking, “Why would I ever do that?” If you really think about it, the worst outcome of this interview is that you don’t get offered the job. And that’s okay! It’s nothing but a little set back on your way to what’s truly meant for you. Take it as a learning experience if nothing else and be even more prepared for next time.
As I mentioned earlier, hiring managers want to see that you cared enough about this job to do the preliminary research. Look into the company. Understand its mission, projects that are in the works, and any other information that you may be asked about. Even feel free to bring that information up within your answers to prove you’ve done your research.
Hiring managers want to bring on a candidate that is passionate about the company and its goals. They also will want someone who is a self-starter and can function independently. Doing your research will help show them that and it can help you feel better prepared to answer their questions.
Having mock interviews or coaching sessions
Practice makes perfect. That cliche sticks because it’s true! By practicing your responses, you’ll go into your interview feeling prepared and more confident. Either sit with a friend for a mock session or even consider professional interview coaching, which can really help target the areas where you can improve.
One method you should be sure to practice is the STAR method. This technique is often used by hiring managers, and it stands for situation, task, action, and result. Essentially, the point of this technique is to illustrate for the hiring managers how you handle certain situations. It requires a bit of storytelling, so it will require practice.
Interviewing is not easy, and for many, it isn’t fun either. However, it is something that can and should be mastered. These tips scratch the surface of how you can help yourself to perform better. For more great advice, keep checking in every Tuesday and Thursday to the BrandResumes blog. Good luck!