Interviews are a necessary evil.  Very few people enjoy the experience and I am yet to read a Facebook profile where someone mentions job interviews as an interest or hobby.

However, a successful career often requires the ability to navigate through interviews with aplomb.  So what are some simple principles to keep in mind to make the process a bit easier?

Be early.  When I was in my late teens, I once got some great advice from someone I looked up to.  He said, “Always leave enough time in case you get a flat tyre.”  I don’t know how long it takes for you to change a tyre, but I think that you should aim to get to your venue 15-20 minutes before your interview time. 

Being nice and early takes away some of the potential for an issue that you don’t control, like a traffic jam or a delayed train, to impact your arrival on time.  Getting there too early (over an hour) will probably have a negative effect, leaving you to sweat and perhaps over-think the interview.  Getting there 1 minute before the scheduled time may leave you breathless and flustered, not the ideal way to start an interview.  I shouldn’t need to tell you that getting there late may mean that you are automatically unsuccessful in your application, so remove the risk. 

Getting to your location about 15-20 minutes is about right as it also enables you to effectively perform the next point…

Don’t forget to breathe.  Whenever someone in the office has an interview, these are invariably the last words that I say to them.  If you get to the interview location nice and early you can take control of your breathing with some simple exercises.  Why is this important?

  1. Breathing deeply enables you to better control your nerves, decreasing your anxiety levels which is an important element to performing well. 
  2. You will oxygenate your brain more effectively enabling clearer thinking and better answers.
  3. Your speech patterns will be more measured and controlled, giving the impression of confidence.

Take water.  A bottle of water to subtly sip on can be of great assistance in an interview situation.  When you’re doing a lot of talking and are nervous, it’s easy for your mouth to dry up.  The impact of this is often more mental than anything else, distracting you from delivering great answers.  Many employers will provide a glass of water, but I wouldn’t be reliant on this.

Take your time.  I have interviewed hundreds of people and have seen many applicants who seem to think that they are in a game show where they need to press an imaginary buzzer and deliver an answer almost before the question has been completed.   We are often self-conscious during periods of silence and 10 seconds can seem like 10 minutes, but it is important that you take your time and think before speaking. 

There is nothing wrong with taking a few seconds to consider your response before giving a well thought out answer.  You will come across as a lot more confident, and will feel more in control of your answers. 

Be conscious of your body language.  Starting with a firm handshake during the introductions at the start, you need to be conscious of your body language throughout the process.  Good eye contact, shoulders square to your audience, chin up, arms free, but not waving wildly and a warm smile will help you to build a solid rapport with the interviewers and make them feel more comfortable with you whilst helping you to feel more confident.

Communication experts tell us that approximately 60% of our message will be delivered via our body language, so it is an important consideration that you should be practicing in the days prior to the interview.

There you have it.  5 simple tips that are easy to put into action.  I hope that they help you the next time you have an interview.

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