Dealing with nerves when interviewing

First of all, nerves are a good thing. Being a little nervous shows the interviewer that you want the job. If you try too hard to look relaxed, it may be misinterpreted as not wanting the job or as arrogance. However, you don't want to be so nervous that your mind goes blank, your speech is affected and you find yourself panting through the interview. The best way to avoid this scenario is to be prepared down to the tiniest detail.

Practice, practice, practice answering the types of questions you anticipate in your interview. This way there is some hope that you will say what you intended to say, even if you are nervous. Practice out loud, by yourself, with friends and family, co-workers, helpful human resource staff, anyone and everyone. Always out loud.

Have everything ready the night before. Nerves can make you clumsy and forgetful. Have anything you want to distribute or show (like portfolios) packed. Put out the clothes you intend to wear. Know exactly where you need to go so you aren't nervous about getting lost. Leave early even if you know where you are going. Getting there late is just not an option, it screams "unreliable!" If some tragedy befalls you (your car breaks down, you get in an accident), call as soon as you realize you will be late and try to reschedule. Don't suggest starting 15 minutes later. If you can manage to be only 15 minutes late, then it wasn't really a tragedy, just poor planning. Don't go into a long excuse of why you can't be there, just state the facts, and then work on rescheduling.

During the interview, remember that it is OK to pause before answering a question to formulate how you want to answer. Take your time and put some thought into what story or example would best fit the question. You will be less likely to find yourself babbling along on a nerve-induced tangent, and will also come across as thoughtful and organized.

Karen Bolda, M.A., is a meeting facilitator and professional development trainer. She's lived in Ashland for 13 years where she operates her own consulting business. Contact her at 890-1883 or Karen's workbook "Ace the Interview" is now available for purchase at

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