27 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Ask the expert: I’m nervous at job interviews

One of the first things you need to do is acknowledge to yourself that an interview is always going to test your nerves

Russell Hemmings.
20 May 2016 | 12:00 am

I am a 22-year-old man just out of university. I’ve been trying to secure a job but every time I go for an interview, my nerves get the better of me and I mess up. My confidence is at an all-time low. What can I do to change this situation?

After all of your success at university, I totally understand that this must have rocked your confidence, but don’t worry unduly as there are a number of things you can do to give yourself the best shot when it comes to acing an interview.

One of the first things you need to do is acknowledge to yourself that an interview is always going to test your nerves. However, thinking of it as short-term pain for long-term gain can help you to compartmentalise the experience, so that you can stand outside of it momentarily to gain a more objective view of the situation.

Treat the idea of attaining your job as a job in itself. When it comes to nerves, preparation is key to minimising them. Make sure you spend time understanding the company, its position in the marketplace and its customer base. Know the job specification inside-out and identify possible questions they might ask you. There are some key questions that you will probably be asked at 
most interviews such as ‘What motivates you?’ or ‘What would other people say about you?’ or ‘Talk about a situation when you’ve faced adversity and overcome it.’

Researching these types of questions and knowing in advance how you will answer them will give you a solid platform to build on. Also, make sure you have questions to ask them as this is an indicator of someone who is proactive and wants to gain a deeper understanding.

Being fully prepared will help you when it comes to staying on top of those nerves, because there is nothing more anxiety- inducing than facing a test with only half the information you need to pass!

When it comes to the actual interview day, it’s important that you look the part, while at the same time feeling comfortable, so choose clothes accordingly. Like many overused sayings, ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’ has a great deal of truth in it. Arrive early, but don’t go in. Instead find somewhere private, so you can collect your thoughts and practise the following breathing exercise.

Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belt line. Inhale through your nose for three seconds and exhale through your mouth for three seconds. Repeat. Collect your thoughts and compose yourself before the introduction. Body language is very powerful, so even if you feel nervous, walk tall and offer a firm handshake.

And remember, the person or persons interviewing you are all human, so try to think of the experience as having a conversation, rather than going on the defensive and seeing them as a threat. Again, use body language to your advantage, sit up straight and keep your hands on your lap, open and relaxed.

Finally, try not to see the experience as ‘make or break’. You’re young and just starting out in a world that will inevitably give you a few knock-backs. Being able to stay resilient and maintain perspective will be valuable skills to have throughout 
your adult life.

Got a problem?

Email your queries to

Russell Hemmings.

Russell Hemmings

Life coach, and clinical and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist. More info: / 04 4273627 / 055 2867275.