There’s an elephant in the room. I have anxiety. Not really an elephant though is it? After all, I have previously wrote a letter to anxiety. To be more specific, it’s general and social anxiety. With that in mind, you can imagine how torturous interviews are right? However my interview statistics are quite impressive. I’ve attended my fair share, and apart from one I’ve always got the job within 24 hours of the interview (and one that took a week because silly Ashley doesn’t answer unknown callers but they called repetitively until I gave in!).
Now I’m not saying I’m pro at interviews, because I’m most definitely not. Interviews are bad enough for people that don’t have anxiety, but for those of us that do they are literal hell. My definition of hell is actually ‘being in a room with people I don’t know and trying to impress them with my personality’ – because my personality dwindles down to a stuttering, babbling mess in these situations. I’m here to bring you some of my top tips for an interview, so hopefully you can have a much easier and more confident experience!
1. Fake it ’til you make it, baby!
You’ve probably heard this a million times before but it is something I always do. Fake that confidence, strut into that interview room and hold the room. Own the room. Introduce yourself confidently. Don’t stumble in with your head down, fiddling with your fingers. You’ll give off a bad vibe and look uninterested, which is most definitely not what the interviewer will be looking for. I promise you, if you fake fake fake it, by the end of the interview you won’t be faking it any more, you’ll feel a lot more confident and it will shine through and flow naturally!
2. Don’t be too serious
Honestly, I get through interviews by having a bit of a laugh and a joke. This instantly shows your personality and although you may be absolutely cacking yourself on the inside, your humour will lighten the mood and lift the spirit of both yourself and the interviewer. With this being said, you’ve got to get a good feel for the type of interviewer first and not just go in all jokes blazing. Start with a small joke or funny comment at the start and if the interviewer doesn’t so much as crack a smile – drop the jokes, unless you can squeeze in some humour whilst directly answering their questions. One of my winning topics of conversation is about how much I move my hands when I talk – this has been 100% successful in getting the interviewer to laugh. I promise, making an interviewer laugh is a great feeling and will help you feel more confident and it most definitely moves you up the list of potential employees a bit!
Always be honest. Interviewers will always try to find out your strengths and weaknesses, either by directly asking or by the wording of their questions. I’ve found that they really appreciate my honesty when it comes to discussing my weaknesses due to my anxiety. I never use my anxiety as an excuse, but I am honest in saying that my confidence can be really low at times. I follow this up by mentioning that it is something I can deal with and that I can overcome in work situations, it would just need a little bit of understanding from colleagues and staff. This lets them know that I do have weaknesses but it’s something I recognise and that I know how to deal with it. Damn it, if you’ve made it to the interview, you’re already proving that your anxiety doesn’t win!
4. Be prepared
Preparing for an interview is key at the best of times, but for an anxious mind, preparation is super important as it helps to ease the mind a tad. Just telling you to ‘be prepared’ is really quite broad, so there’s a few main points to consider here.
Get your documents ready. Sometimes when you arrange an interview, you will be told what you need to bring – and sometimes you won’t. I have a folder that I call my ‘work’ folder, and in it has all of my policies etc from work AND anything I could ever possibly need at an interview. CV, cover letter (if needed), passport, birth certificate, driving license, national insurance, DBS (if needed), extra certifications and references. Make sure it’s all together and ready to go, you’ll feel much better!
Do your research on the company. A few of the interviews I’ve attended, they’ve told me the history of the business or company, and when I nod my head along and ask questions or talk about what they’re saying, they eat it out of my hand! Nothing says “I want this job” like knowing about the place. If you google “common questions for (job sector) interviews” you can also prepare some possible answers to questions that might come up.
‘Do you have any questions?’ TRICK QUESTION. The answer is always yes! Saying ‘no’ shows you’re not interested and you just want any job. Even if this is the case, ask at least one question! Secure your job! My go to question is “if I’m successful in getting the job, will there be an opportunity for me to review how I’m doing?” This shows that you’re interested in the job and that you want to succeed. Whenever I’ve asked this question, the interviewers face lights up. Obviously, if it has been mentioned in your interview that you will have regular meetings etc, this is probably not the best question to ask.
5. Be the interviewer
This may sound absurd, but not only is the interviewer deciding if you fit the job description, but you’re deciding if you want to work for them. Asking them questions along the way will ease your anxiety and make you feel like you have some power over the interview too. Putting yourself in this mindset allows the focus to not only be on you, but on them as well.
Stay away from caffeine before an interview
Release anxious energy by doing something they won’t notice – wiggle your toes for example!
Remember that taking your time to collect your thoughts before answering questions is okay
Congratulate yourself – even if you don’t get the job, it was a learning experience!
Treat yourself afterwards, you deserve it!
If you have any more tips or extra advice, feel free to share them in the comments!