How to build confidence for an interview

Written by
Changeboard Team

09 Jun 2014

09 Jun 2014 • by Changeboard Team

Are you nervous?

Being nervous before an interview is absolutely normal and like any good actor or athlete, it pays to have some adrenalin flowing through your veins before a ‘performance’. What can be crippling though is the anxiety associated with an interview and it's reducing this that I've found to be most beneficial.

In my view, this anxiety is the result of lack of preparation, so here are some preparation top tips to reduce anxiety and in turn build your confidence:

Ensure your research is specific

When researching a company think about the information that is going to be useful. Memorising the company history is unlikely to be of any value, but knowing what they are doing now and have lined up for the future is vital.

You are going to be hired for their future, so focus on how your skills could fit in with their future plans. You can find these out by talking with employees or looking at the news websites that might tell you that they are about to merge; move into ‘greener’ products; open branches abroad etc. Therefore when asked “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” you can help paint a picture for them as to how you would fit in with their plans.

Who are you meeting?

It’s always useful to have some idea of the people you are meeting. Ask the recruiter if they can tell you anything about them, their style or commercial interests.

Have a look on Google or LinkedIn and if they have a profile see what information would be helpful for you to build rapport quickly. Knowing that you have something in common is a great confidence booster and conversation piece.

Be clear on your motivators

Sounds basic? Yes, but so many people assume that they can remember facts and dates, but when they are in an interview their mind goes blank. Has it gone blank or did they just not know their own data well enough? What are your strengths, values and weaknesses? What is your management/leadership style?

Understand your motivators and the reasons you have made career choices. The tip here is to think about your behaviours, rather than just your skills. How and why you have done things, rather than simply knowing what you have done.

Know your competencies

Many companies will be running competency-based interviews. They would have given you a job description that will contain all the competencies and details required in the role. This document holds all the clues for you to predict the areas of questioning.

If you go through the job description and prepare examples to the obvious areas of enquiry, then you will go into the interview knowing that you will be able to answer about 80% of the questions. Now how good does that feel? There will always be about 20% of questions that make you think, are difficult or you haven’t predicted, so accept that and answer them as best you can.

Think about the logistics

Reduce anxiety by:

  • Understanding the interview format. Is it 1-1 or a panel? competency-based or a run through your CV? Are there psychometric tests? The more you know the more you can prepare and won’t be taken by surprise.
  • Reading through your application form or CV again, just to make sure that you can answer any questions arising from what you have written.
  • If you are able, practice your interview answers at home. It is very different talking through your experience as opposed to just thinking it through. This is time very well invested.
  • Planning the journey. Do a trial run (at the same time as the interview is scheduled for), or at least knowing the times of trains and having a contingency plan. Be confident of arriving early.
  • Knowing where you are going. It is comforting to look at the ‘Street View’ on Google maps and see the building so that you recognise it when you arrive.
  • Making sure your interview clothes are clean. Nothing more stressful than on the morning of the interview realising your suit is creased or dirty.
  • Having the name and telephone number of the contact with you. If you are stuck you can call them and apologise.

Interviewing is very competitive, so you must invest time in your preparation. This will eliminate much of the doubt and anxiety and increase your confidence, which the interviewer will see. The candidates who are successful will have spent a long time preparing, or working with a career coach to fine tune their presentation. Your career is worth it – prepare well and succeed!