5 things you forget when you have interview nerves

Interview nerves can make you do funny things. So much so, that you forget things you really should know. Here are a few truths you should remember.
Alex Ekong
Alex Ekong
interview chairs

I don’t think I’ve ever formally documented my Debut origin story. Here it is in a nutshell. Not only did I get lost on my way to Debut HQ after Google Maps led me to a construction yard, I turned to my interview for a startup in a full suit and tie. That’s when I realised that interview nerves make you do funny things.

A little bit of nerves ahead of interview can be a good thing. It stops you getting complacent and you’re actually less likely to make mistakes. Let them take over though, and you could worry yourself into trouble. If your interview nerves feel all-consuming, it might be a good thing to bear these handy facts in mind.

Related: Download Debut’s huge Guide to Interview Etiquette for tried-and-true tips on how to ace your interviews

It’s not all about you

5 things you forget when you have interview nerves

You’d think it would be quite weird that I’ve said that, but it’s true. There are several different moving parts to any interview process. Obviously, you are the star of the show (in your own mind at least) but there’s pressure being applied elsewhere too.

The panel, for instance is under pressure to use their investment wisely to recruit the right person for the company. It’s important, then, not to think of them as your enemy. They’ll want to help you and bring out your best form as much as you want to show it. Trust them and let it happen.

It’s not about the other candidates either

5 things you forget when you have interview nerves

You may not want to hear this either, but the other candidates? They’re not thinking about you. Or at least they shouldn’t be.

That’s not because you aren’t enough of a threat to bear thinking about. It’s more because the best candidates focus on themselves and what they have to offer. So don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by comparing yourself to other candidates. It won’t do your interview nerves any good and it’ll take your eyes off the prize for no good reason.

You already know what you are

5 things you forget when you have interview nerves

Nobody knows you better than you do. You know your motivation, your strengths and weaknesses and what you bring to the table. Moreover, you know why you’re the best person for the job. In a way, you already have all the answers. Plus, if you’ve done the proper research into the company and the position, you’ve won half the battle.

Don’t underestimate the value of all your knowledge, both on the interview and on yourself. Preparing well is the hard bit and if you’ve done that, expressing it is comparatively simple. Walk in with your head held high.

It’s not a pass or fail situation

5 things you forget when you have interview nerves

Try not to think in binaries. The awkward thing about interviews is anything can happen. But the amazing thing about interviews is anything can happen. It’s about way more than getting the job or not getting the job. Obviously the best outcome is that you come out on top for a hotly contested position, but failure isn’t the end of the world.

There are any number of things that can affect a recruiter’s decision and not all of those are to do with your approach or answers. Nor do they signify the end. They could offer you a different role or it could end up being great preparation for another interview in a better role. With that in mind, it’s important you don’t stress over what you can’t control.

You have more control than you realise

5 things you forget when you have interview nerves

All that being said, don’t give up any of the control you do have. Remember: the recruiters have brought you in so they can hear your story. They want to hear from you. They will ask you questions to guide you in telling them what they want to know, but you control the conversation space.

Focus on your strengths and turn it into a situation you feel comfortable in. If it helps you to see it as one big group discussion, engage all members of the panel and ask them their opinions on things. If you prefer to be the focus, play to them like an audience and tell your story. There’s no one right way to do this, so put your interview nerves to one side and shine the way you know you can.


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