How to minimise stress in the interview process

Harriet Stocker 04.02.2019

You’ve decided the time has come to get a new job. For whatever reason, whether you want a new challenge, or a new experience, or indeed a new career altogether, you are ready to make the jump and begin the (sometimes) laborious task of a job search.

It’s important to remember the basics

For some candidates, the process is relatively smooth going. They apply, interview, receive offer, accept and go. But for many, the entire process of moving jobs can be stressful. Whether it is writing out a new CV, or the actual interview process itself, it can be difficult to judge what is expected from you.  

This is where the role of the recruiter can be invaluable. A recruiter is able to give you “insider” help and wisdom, such as offering CV templates and guidelines. But the CV is just the first step: Our expertise with regards to the interview itself can make your experience a lot easier. See below our top 5 tips for making the interview process a little less stressful.

1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

The old saying may seem cliche, but the sentiment is absolutely spot on. A good recruiter will speak to their client and establish every piece of information necessary in order to prepare you for your interview. We will find out who you’re meeting, the process, any information regarding a potential test, how many stages there will be. But it is up to you to use this information. Read up on your interviewer, find out a bit about their career. It may seem obvious, but Google the company before you meet with them; they may be in the news for a variety of reasons and it will reflect badly on you if you have not taken the time to look into this.

Be sure to know your CV well and make sure you are comfortable answering any questions about your past experience.  

2. First impressions really count

I think we have all heard the cliche that a first impression is generated with 7 seconds of meeting someone. As old hat as it seems, it is factually sound. The first step is to ensure you are on time: I recommend a minimum of 10 minutes before your interview is due to start so you can compose yourself.

Have a firm handshake, make eye contact and crucially, remember to smile. Non-verbal cues are as important as verbal ones and are vital in how you come across. It may seem small, but it is certainly something that should not be forgotten about.     

3. Stay calm  

Do you remember when you had Maths exams in school and you had the nightmare where you had forgotten your calculator? (Or maybe that was just me!) Don’t let this nightmare become a reality when it comes to interviews by not being ready. Get an early night so you feel fresh, be on time and make sure your diary is completely free for the hours immediately before and after the interview: There is nothing more off-putting for an interviewer than sitting opposite someone who clock watches. Make sure you carefully listen to the questions, take a couple of seconds to digest and mentally prepare an answer. Always accept a glass of water when you arrive as this can buy you valuable seconds if you have a tricky question to answer! Remain calm and composed to ensure you can answer questions properly.   

4. Be physically prepared - LOOK THE PART

Imagine turning up to meet someone and they clearly haven’t showered, cleaned their teeth, or ironed their shirt. What sort of impression does that leave? I am a firm believer that if you look ready, you will feel ready. Polish your shoes, iron your shirt and (if possible) try to avoid excessive amounts of smelly food the night before! This is not only for the interviewer, but for you as well. Again, this may seem obvious, but feeling ready will boost your confidence and help you tackle the interview head on.  

5. End well - Ask QUESTIONS   

Always have 3 sets of examples to use in interviews. They can be from the workplace, from home, or from life experiences. Be sure to look up ‘competency based questions’ online as you will be able to mould your examples to these questions. I also recommend that you think of a minimum of 3 questions that you want to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview. You need to put some thought into this. If you do your research into the firm, you may generate a couple of questions from that. Beyond that, try to steer clear of questions regarding salary and pay rises as this does tend to have the opposite desired effect. By asking intelligent and well thought through questions, you are showing your interest to the interviewer and portraying your enthusiasm for the role and firm at hand.

As important as it is to generate a first impression, be sure to end on a strong one too. Thank the interviewer for their time and shake their hand before parting ways. Although it may seem a little obvious, in the heat of the interview, the basics can absolutely go out of the window.    

Harriet Stocker's picture
Consultant
hstocker@morganmckinley.co.uk