While it’s an exciting opportunity, making it to the interview stage of a job application can bring with it a fresh bout of nerves. If you’re feeling on-edge at the thought of answering questions in front of a panel of people, there are a few things you can do to become more relaxed and present yourself in a way that is confident, well-informed and enthusiastic.
- Find out the interview format
It’s likely that most of your job interview will follow a simple question and answer format, however this could be a competency-based interview or an informal chat, so it’s good to be aware of exactly what you can expect.
There may also be extra elements that you’ll need to prepare for. For example, some job interviews include a test or require candidates to prepare a presentation in advance. Occasionally, an interview involves meeting another member of the team or a tour of where you will be working.
If it hasn’t been specified what format the interview will take, then don’t be afraid to ask! This shows great initiative, that you ask the right questions and are taking the time to be as prepared as possible for the interview.
Whatever format the interview is going to take, it’s best to know in advance to avoid any surprises on the day.
- Plan your journey
If your interview is going to be in person, then it’s a good idea to start looking into the journey you need to take to get there.
If you are driving, check the route and make sure you know where you’re going to park. Are you getting public transport? Find out what bus or train you need to take and the stop you need to get off at.
However you are getting to your job interview, it’s important to set off with a good amount of time to get there. This will allow for traffic or any other delays to your journey. Plus, arriving early will make a good impression on the interviewer!
- Check your tech
Will your interview be taking place online? A few days before the interview takes places, test any tech you’re going to be using, for example speakers, camera and microphone. This gives you the chance to replace or fix anything that isn’t working and saves you from panicking on the morning of the interview when you realise something isn’t right.
If you are due to be giving a presentation, double check you know how to work the video calling software so that you don’t run into any issues on the day. When it comes to the interview itself, make sure you’re in a suitable location with a good background and lighting.
Take a look at our tips for performing well in an online interview.
- Dress professionally
Even if your job interview is taking place virtually, it’s still important to dress appropriately. If the person organising the interview hasn’t explained what the dress code is – just ask! Again, this will show you are taking the time to research what is expected of you by the business.
If the company doesn’t specify a dress code, we would still recommend dressing professionally. You may not wear a suit and tie, but a nice jumper or shirt with a smart pair of trousers and shoes will still have a positive impact.
Lastly, if you are interviewing in-person – don’t forget to take your coat off before the interview starts! It may seem obvious, but being nervous on the day can make you forget simple things like this that make a difference.
- Do your research
As well as demonstrating your skillset and how well you would fit within the company, a job interview is also a chance for you to communicate what you know about the business.
Take a look at their website and any social media channels they have and note down a few points on what the business does and its values – then use these as part of your interview preparation.
You should also ensure you’re up to date on any sector news. Even if you don’t get asked about any recent updates within the sector, being able to demonstrate that you actively keep on top of industry news and events is a great way to showcase your passion and enthusiasm.
Once you have a strong understanding of the company and the sector, it’s time to move onto preparing for the questions you might be asked. Read our article on common interview questions to familiarise yourself with what could come up.
- Ask questions
Every job interview will end with the chance for you to ask the panel some questions of your own. We would recommend preparing at least five questions in advance, as there is a chance that some of these may be answered earlier in the interview.
If you are in need of some inspiration, read through our article on the best questions to ask in an interview – it highlights key areas that your questions can focus on, with some pre-written examples of what you could ask.
- Think about your body language
Body language can be used to convey your enthusiasm for the role as well as keep your interviewers engaged and focused on what you’re saying.
When someone on the panel is talking, you should smile, maintain eye contact (if you find this difficult, focus on the part of their nose that’s between their eyes) and nod your head to show you are actively listening.
Don’t become so focused on your body language that you stop paying attention to what’s being talked about, but if you can remember to nod and smile occasionally then you’ll come across as friendly person with good people skills – things that most companies will be on the lookout for.
When it comes to giving your answers, we would recommend sitting upright in your chair and uncrossing your legs. This will make you look attentive but not tense. While you are talking, maintain eye contact and ensure you address everyone in the room rather than only focusing on one person. Steer clear of actions that make you look nervous, for example don’t play with your hair or pick at your fingers, and instead opt for occasional hand gestures that help to emphasise your point.
- Be friendly
Being friendly is a great way to show that you have the type of personality that people would love to have on their team. Engage in some small talk before the interview begins – even something as simple as asking them how they are will demonstrate that you’re able to stay calm and remain approachable, even when you are in a pressurised situation.
Plus, having a minute or so to chat, rather than going straight into the interview process, will help you relax a little and ease your nerves.
- Take your time
It’s easy to feel like you must begin answering a question as soon as the interviewer has finished asking it, but there’s nothing stopping you from taking a few seconds to gather your thoughts – especially if a tricky question has been thrown your way.
Taking a short pause before starting your answer won’t make you look unprepared. In fact, the panel will appreciate you taking the time to think about what you are going to say before you say it. Wordy answers will have the interviewer drifting off and you could even forget what the question was in the first place! Keep your answers concise – highlight the skills you have to offer, your achievements and the evidence to back this up.
Another great tip is to take your time when you first step into the interview room or the video call starts. You would be surprised at the calming effect taking a deep breath or a sip of water can have – giving yourself the space and time to do this will put you in a much better headspace for the rest of the interview.
Last updated on 30 March 2022Share this article