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Combat interview-nerves with a mindset!

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Getting nervous at job interviews is very common, but finding solutions is rarer, and much better. Here are some ideas to help you out-think your nerves.

Confidence is a mindset.
Stop thinking they are doing you a favour if they hire you.

Employers like to assert that they are doing you a big favour by interviewing you, and employing you: they are not. They will only employ you if they believe you are what they need. Maybe they are looking for someone cheap, technically accomplished, or even with the right personality, but if they hire you, they don't do it to please you, only themselves.

Don't go into the interview as supplicant, rather, think of it as business meeting where you have got something to sell, and they might want to buy it. You won't sell if you don't get a fair price, and they won't buy if they don't like what you are selling.

Don’t bet your future on trying to remember every single technical detail they could conceivably ask.

It is quite possible that you will forget, or not know, the answer to a particular technical question, but remember, before they dove into the dusty manuals prior to your interview, they might have not known it either. So, don't let it bother you. As I often say, an interview is a performance, not necessarily reality. Don't be afraid to play a role.

But do come up with strategies for how to answer the question if you forget something.

What is more important is being able to confidently tell them you don't know the answer, and what you will do to address it.

I'm not suggesting you don't prepare for the technical side of your interview, of course you must, but don't let the fact that you can't remember something on your way there, derail your chances. Self-confidence is about managing the unknown skilfully. Any fool can know the answer to a question, but not everyone can know how to answer when they don't.

Do your research so you can ask them difficult questions.

Difficult questions shouldn’t be a one-way street. Be prepared to do the same to them. For example, look up their company records and see how well they have performed over the last couple of years. If their profits have gone down, respectfully ask them why, and if they think you would still have a job in a year's time if profits are still down?

This is subtle, but a) it gives you confidence because you are acting as their equal--remember, as I mentioned, they aren't doing you a favour-- and b) it gets them justifying why you would want to work there. That's a good thing.

Remember because someone is interviewing you, doesn’t mean they are necessarily good at it.

We meet people every day doing jobs they are clearly not good at, and interviewers are no different. Make an assessment of your interviewer(s) in those first few minutes, as it gives you equal power to them as they assess you in return.


The next 60-minute class looks at good answers to bad interview questions. Join us.

Consider if you want to work for that person, or there!

This follows on from the precious point, but force yourself to immediately start considering if this is a place you would like to work at. Is it a nice office, in a good location, is it clean, do the employees seem happy? Whatever is important to you in a place to work.

I’m not suggesting this, because you can storm out of the interview if you don't like it, but it does stop you only worrying about what they think of you.

Use your nervousness as an asset.

Nerves can still crop up when you least expect it, so use them to your advantage. Say something like, “… I am just so excited at the prospect of working here …”. No one is going to think badly of you for that. Quite the contrary.

This 60-minute class is an open Q&A. It's your opportunity to ask anything interview related.

If you found this article helpful, please consider telling your friends. If you found it unhelpful ... tell your enemies.

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