Turning Interview Anxiety into Confidence

Interviews are often complicated situations filled with numerous variables that cause a lot of anxiety for interviewees.  Candidates often arrive at interviews without knowing the number of people they will be meeting with, the style of interview questions, or how long the interview will last.  With all of the uncertainty, it can be hard not to let your nerves get the best of you.

Employers tend to look for confident candidates that can sell their skills sets.  So, how does one turn the anxiety that comes with interviewing into a portrait of confidence?  Richard Kline once said “Confidence is preparation.  Everything else is beyond your control.” I completely agree– in my experience the best way to combat anxiety is through proper preparation.

Early in my recruiting career, I coordinated numerous interviews for qualified candidates (on paper) that floundered during the actual interview for various reasons.  After a few months, I realized the main indicator of how an interview went was predicated on talk time.

Interviewers will infer a lot from candidates during an interview. To some interviewers, if your answers are too short that could mean you lack confidence or you are not as qualified as your resume indicates; or if you ramble too long it means that you are unable to articulate thoughts in an efficient manner.  It can be tough to toe the line of an acceptable response time.  How much time is appropriate to sell your experience before your answer turns into overkill?

Here are tips to prepare you to sell yourself in the appropriate amount of time:

-The average interview question response should be under 2 minutes. You want your answers to be concise.  If the interviewer wants you to elaborate more, they will ask.

-An exception to the two-minute rule is when you are asked to walk the interviewer through your resume and background. That answer can last 3 – 5 minutes to highlight some of your achievements.

-Record yourself answering basic mock questions on your phone to track your timing and to tighten up any phrasing.

-Anticipate some behavioral interview based questions. Formulate at least 5 stories where you were inserted into a less than ideal situation, took an action, and then describe the positive results from it.

-The goal is to make the interview more conversational, rather than just waiting for your turn to speak. Come prepared with questions to further understand the organizations products, environment and culture. It has been said the more you talk in an interview the less people listen. That is why it is critical to establish rapport and to get the interviewer talking.

You can ask 10 different recruiters the same question and receive 10 different answers, but these are some tips I really try to drive home with my candidates.  Some people are just natural talkers, but for those who are not; preparation is paramount.

AJ Forinash

AJ is an Associate Recruiter based out of our Cincinnati office and is responsible for identifying talent in Cincinnati and surrounding areas.

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