I’m Nervous…Help! Are nerves a good thing when it comes to interviews?

I’m Nervous…Help! Are nerves a good thing when it comes to interviews? Author: Gin Bhandal Published: 24 June 2019

Feeling jittery ahead of a big event is not unusual at all. Social events, presentations and interviews are just a few examples where the nerves can kick in and throw you off your game. Gin Bhandal, a Principal in our Education Practice explains how you can combat the nerves ahead of a job interview.

Over the last few months, a number of candidates I have engaged with have openly told me about how nervous they are ahead of an interview. This raises the question; are nerves a bad thing and can they be harnessed for good?

Overcoming performance anxiety is common; it affects many people in the public eye including elite athletes, musicians and (topically) politicians. The fact that these individuals appear flawless tells us that experiencing nerves can be flipped into an asset.

Using your nerves for good 

Doubting your personal ability is the main symptom that seems to impact candidates ahead of interviews.  The good news is that it is straightforward to get a grip of this, thereby not derailing your crucial interview preparations.  As part of your preparation, use nerves to focus your thoughts; what is it making you nervous? Is it a particular part of the person spec?  Is it the content of your presentation?  Is it having to present to people that you haven’t met before? Figuring out the things that are causing anxiety can help you to resist the temptation of spending your time on areas you are already comfortable with.

Combatting the nerves 

So what happens when you get the dreaded butterflies on the day? There are a number of things you can do to feel more at ease;

  • Breathing – mastering breathing techniques can give you an instant handle on the nerves. Nerves can trigger your “fight or flight” response and taking deep breaths is biologically proven to calm you down.
  • ‘Press reset’ – when your mind is racing away, a good trick is to imagine you are ‘resetting’ your thought process.  Get back to the calm and rational thinking and forget the possible outcomes.
  • Confidence – It’s one of the fundamental things you need to get right in an interview scenario. If you do not believe in yourself, the interviewers will not either.  So even though a confident demeanour is the last thing you feel capable of, fake it to make it. 
  • Listen to music – if possible, find a quiet place and listen to your favourite song or play it in your head! This will distract you, make you feel calmer and the nerves will subside.

It is totally natural to experience nerves but you cannot allow them to rule your performance. If approached in the right manner, they can be addressed and diminished. Don’t let them spoil your big moment!

Gin Bhandal is a Principal in the Education Practice at Berwick Partners. He regularly works with Universities to appoint senior leaders to professional services roles. 

Categories: Education Recruitment

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