You’ve updated your resume, applied to a number of jobs, and finally got a call for an interview. Congratulations! But once the feeling of accomplishment settles in and you give yourself that much-deserved pat on the back, the inevitable question arises: “Now what?”
For too many, the answer is to frantically prepare the morning of and fret the whole way there. But should you want to ace the interview and feel relaxed enough to let your real professional side shine through, this is the last way to approach such an important meeting. Everyone feels nervous before an interview, sure, but how much of that nervousness is self-imposed? A little bit of preparation can go a long way.
Here are five ways you can make the often nerve-wracking day work to your advantage:
- Be prepared the night before. Iron and set out your clothes, have a nutritional breakfast planned, print out any materials you might need, and read up on the company. Have everything staged to go in the morning so you have to do minimal thinking and preparation when your mind should be focused on the task at hand: impressing your interviewer and assessing the company you’re interviewing with.
- That’s right—remember that they’re impressing you, too. Though you want to make the best possible impression, it’s helpful to remember that your interview isn’t simply an audition on your part; you need to ensure that a company is also a great cultural fit for you, too. One of the best ways to do so is to ask the interviewer questions at the conclusion of your interview. Having these questions prepared beforehand will keep you confident and on-track, and will increase the likeliness that you get the most out of your time there.
- Get there early. If you’re well-prepared, this should be easy enough. Getting to your destination early will give you time to sit, breathe, and calm your nerves before your interview. Try to avoid running through possible scenarios or memorizing responses, as this can stress you out further and contribute to any pre-interview jitters you may be experiencing. Instead, get a cup of water, sip on it slowly, and remind yourself that you’re here because you’ve already impressed someone. If there is any kind of unforeseen delay out of your control—for example, if you realize you’re going to be a couple of minutes late due to train delays—call to inform the company as soon as you can.
- Don’t obsess over what you “should” do. This applies not only to the time directly before an interview, but during it, as well. By all means, do some research prior to the big day, do a practice run-through, and understand the basic do’s and don’ts—but don’t try to recite perfect answers or portray yourself as anyone other than you. If you’re preoccupied with everything you should be doing, you’re going to be distracted at the time when focus is most vital.
- Accept that nerves are normal. When it comes down to it, just about everyone experiences a bit of apprehension before an interview. There are a number of ways to make the meeting easier on yourself, but ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that it’s normal to feel anxious. The worst thing you can do is stress yourself out further by fixating on the fact that your hands might be a bit shaky or that you didn’t answer that last question quite how you rehearsed it. So smile, breathe, and remember—you’re one of a select few who made it this far!