Staying calm in the spotlight

By J&C Team

Filling in application forms requires a considerable amount of effort but preparing for an interview is yet another challenge, since it places you in the spotlight. It is important to take full advantage of this opportunity and do your best. Of course you will have some nerves but there are some simple things you can do to build your confidence and survive the gauntlet.

Some key areas to focus on include staying composed, speaking clearly, answering the questions directly and acting professionally. If you need the question to be repeated, then definitely ask, since it is better taking more time to provide a higher quality answer. Also, you can give the impression that you are calm by pausing between sentences and even taking a sip of water when you need more time to think of an answer!

There is no doubt that preparation is the key to a successful outcome. Some of the essential things include dressing professionally and looking up directions to the venue so that you arrive in plenty of time. Also, you should do some background research about the company’s business and industry, since this will help to answer the more typical questions. Having mock interviews with a careers service or friends and family is definitely useful experience. Getting feedback from practice runs will help to improve your technique going forward.

Interview questions can focus on the company, e.g. why you are attracted to the role, what you like about the firm and its working culture and recent developments in the industry. Other questions will pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. You may be required to provide examples of when you were a team member, team leader, met a tight deadline, prioritised a range of tasks or even when you needed to resolve a conflict between team members. You can draw on examples from your university life, even if they are not directly related to work. It is more useful spending time preparing all the possible topics, rather than guessing which questions could come up.

Telephone interviews require slightly different preparation. Firstly, you need to find a quiet place to take the phone call. One of the trickiest things is not being able to see the interviewer’s body language. This makes it difficult to know when to stop speaking but pausing between each major point will help you to see whether to continue or not. There will always be the temptation to read pre-prepared notes during the phone call. However, this is unadvisable as your answers will not seem natural and you may not answer the questions directly either.

Overall, you should remember that interviews are your chance to show the company why they should hire you and to demonstrate your key skills. Being nervous is completely natural but experience from mock interviews will help you to stay calm. Then on the day, if you give clear and concise answers, there is no reason why you can’t stand out from other applicants who have not prepared as well as you!