Updated: Feb 28
Your heart rate increases, your muscles become tense, you begin to sweat, and you have a fluttery sensation in your stomach. What’s happening?
This feeling, known as “having butterflies in the stomach” is caused by the release of adrenaline due to your body’s natural fight-or-flight response. This response usually kicks in when you are in a stressful or dangerous situation, and experience fear and anxiety.
There are moments when feeling “butterflies” is a good thing. Moments like falling in love, buying your first home, travelling through the safari jungle or visiting a dangerous neighbourhood. Other times, like during a job interview, is not very useful and can really affect your chances of getting hired.
Why Do we Feel Nervous During Job Interviews?
We feel anxious or nervous when being interviewed for a job for several reasons.
1. Job interviews are not common events in our lives
First of all, we don’t look for new jobs often. Once every 3-4 years on average, according to research. And when we are seeking a new job, we may submit a dozen applications and resumes, and be selected for only a few interviews. So overall, we don’t experience job interviews very often in our lives. Hence, we perceive each interview as extremely crucial.
2. We are being judged by someone else
During a job interview, we aren’t really being judged by our ability to perform the task, but our ability to interact with the people who are interviewing us. It’s very similar to having to speak in front of a class, or perform on stage in front of an audience. The feeling of being judged by someone else scares us and makes us feel nervous.
3. We don’t have enough training
Job interviewing is generally very new to us. Especially when we are students and probably never interviewed for a job before. While we may have spent a lot of time educating or training for the job itself, we likely have not received any training for the actual interview situation.
4. We are afraid of the possibility for failure
Finally, we are aware that in any interview situation, there is success and failure. In other words, we will either feel overjoyed to get the job, or feel extremely disappointed to be rejected. If we have been rejected before, our fear of failing for the next interview may be even greater.
How to Increase Confidence for an Interview
Here are 5 tricks for boosting your confidence and managing your anxiety before an important interview. Practice these 5 things to make sure you have an impressive interview.
1. Study the interview location
If it helps, literally draw a map. Know all the necessary information like the building address, the parking lot, the office, the environment, the hiring manager’s name, and whatever else you can think of.
Knowing where you’re going can be a huge confidence booster. It’s like having home-field advantage in sports. It will also help eliminate unforeseen stresses, like difficulties finding parking and entering the wrong office space.
2. Dress to impress
What we wear can have a tangible impact on how we feel about ourselves. In general, when we dress well, we tend to feel well, and vice versa. Here are some general tips on how to dress for your interview:
Follow the company’s dress code. Is it business formal, business casual, or casual?
Wear your smile. A smile projects positive energy
Be neat, clean and well-groomed. You don’t want your attire to distract the interviewer
Fresh breath. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash. Bad breath can destroy your interview, so bring a breath mint and take it before entering the building
Avoid perfume, aftershave, and cologne. The scent can remind the interviewer of someone they don’t like or they can be allergic
Cover tattoos where possible. Keep earrings to a maximum of one, and avoid nose rings
Make sure you study this list and prepare your clothes in advance. Select and iron your clothes at least the night before so on the day of the interview you can focus only on the interview
3. Write out all your answers
Study common interview questions and write out all your answers before the interview. Read them. Practice saying them out loud.
The more practice you get, the more comfortable you’ll be with these questions, and the more confident you’ll feel. Practicing beforehand gives you assurance that no matter what happens, you’ll have awesome answers to at least a few questions during the interview.
Interview preparation is also important to help you answer unusual questions that you may not have predicted. You can use and adapt your scripted answers to respond these uncommon questions. The more time you spend preparing answers, the better your performance will be during the actual interview.
4. Prepare for the worst
No matter how much you prepare in life, you’re bound to get thrown a curveball. The same goes for job interviews. You can almost expect that your interview will not go flawlessly. That something strange is bound to happen. For example, maybe you’ll be interviewed by a panel rather than a single interviewer or maybe you’ll receive a bizarre interview question.
Go into the interview with confidence, ready for a difficult situation or question to arise.
Pro tip: prepare a few responses to completely unexpected questions. For example, “that’s a great question, I’ll have to think about this for a moment” or “Hmm. I’ve never thought about this before”. Having these prepared responses will give you some time to think about an answer, rather than rushing towards an answer that doesn’t truly reflect your capabilities or values.
5. Call an uplifting friend
Before an important interview, avoid thinking negative thoughts. If there’s someone in your life that constantly makes you question your own abilities, try not talking to them before the interview. Instead, talk to someone who lifts your spirits up.
There’s nothing better than the encouragement of a caring, positive friend or family member. Ideally talk to someone who has experience with in-person interviews. He or she can probably tell you things that will trigger a sense of calmness or empowerment.
At the end of the day, you are just having a conversation with someone. An interview is basically two people having a nice conversation about each other’s careers. Muse writer Richard Moy, in his article “How to Keep Your Cool When You Interview With Your Dream Company,” said: “As much as you want to work for them, they’re also really hoping you’re the one.”
Tips on Preparing for Job Interviews
These 5 tips are important to prepare your body and mind for the stress that’s bound to appear during a job interview. They also help you control your anxiety and nerves.
Following these 5 tips will give you the best chance at acing the job interview. However, there are many other tips you can also use to calm your nerves before the interview. Things like going for a walk, taking a deep breath, or listening to music.
We hope these 5 tips can be useful for you. If you want to learn more about how to improve your chances of landing your dream job (like resuming writing tips and interview preparation) send us a message to speak with our advisors. Our career advisors have many years of experience in HR and job search, and would love to help you.
Career Counselling in Vancouver
If you are having troubles finding a job, consider visiting a career counselling office in Vancouver. There are many services available in the city. Alba specializes with finding jobs for international students. Since 2018, we have found high-paying jobs for over 200 international students from China, japan, Korea, the Philippines, and more.
We used to be international students ourselves, so we understand how difficult it is to find a job. It takes years of practice to develop good interview skills and find your dream career. Let Alba help you find the way.