Career Tip of the Month

Banish Interview Jitters

It's no secret that interviews are stressful events, even for the most seasoned job candidates. With so much at stake for new graduates, it's no wonder that interviews can make us sweat. Being a little anxious is to be expected and can even be helpful by giving you an edge. Carefully harnessed, nervous energy can also be interpreted as enthusiasm.

Here are some tips to help you reduce your anxiety level before an interview:

KNOW WHERE THE INTERVIEW IS LOCATED. Know where you're going and how to get there. You don't want to waste time and create more stress by frantically searching for the right street address. If your interview is located in a part of town that you're not familiar with, set your GPS and do a drive-by the day before. Knowing how to get to your interview will be one less thing to worry about the next morning.

GET TO THE INTERVIEW 15 MINUTES AHEAD OF TIME. There is nothing worse than being late for the interview because you got stuck behind a school bus or ran into a construction zone. Give yourself adequate time to get settled, use the restroom, dry your hands, calm down, and collect your thoughts.

WATCH YOUR BREATHING. When faced with a stressful situation, many people tend to breathe in shallow breathes which often results in feeling light-headed and even nauseous. Take a deep slow breath in through the nostrils and hold it for 2-5 counts. Then exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this several times until you feel calmer.

If your hands are shaking, try this quick technique: clench your hands into a fist, release, and stretch out your fingers. Repeat several times.

Musicians swear by this technique: eat one or two bananas about an hour before the event. The combination of potassium, tryptophan, and B vitamins all act to calm the nervous system.

If you don't like bananas, try jogging or exercising the morning before your interview. The physical exertion will calm you down, and your mood will certainly benefit from the resulting endorphin rush.

PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW. It is important to do everything that you can to prepare yourself for the interview. That means practice answering questions that you might be asked during the interview. Do your research on the company. Learn as much as you can about the organization, its size, mission, products and services, and customers or clients so that you can ask intelligent questions. Preparation is the key to feeling more confident and less anxious in the interview.

SMILE. The very act of smiling will cause you to feel, and look, calmer. Remember that the interview is a two-way conversation, not an interrogation. Let your natural friendliness shine through. Rather than view your interviewers as adversaries, try to regard them as new-found friends. This shift in perception can make all the difference in how you feel.

SLOW DOWN. Be mindful of your surroundings. Take time to look each person in the eye when you introduce yourself. Take notes. If you don?t understand a question, ask for clarification. Calm yourself by physically slowing down the pace.

BRING A NOTEPAD AND A PEN/PENCIL. If you're worried that you will forget to say, or ask, something important during the interview, make a list of questions. Take notes. Holding a pen and paper will also give you something to do with your hands while you talk. Write down the interviewer's name or ask for a business card so that you can send a thank you note later.

After the interview give yourself credit for going through the process and making it this far. Regardless of how well or how poorly you thought you performed, learn from the experience. Then let it go and move on. The next interview will be better. Look at the big picture and remember not to "sweat the small stuff."