Nine Steps to Calm the Jitters

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Nine Steps to Calm the Jitters

[adapted from]

Who doesn’t get nervous at the prospect of an interview? With just a few minutes to make a great first impression and wow the interviewer, cue the interrogation light and the Law and Order theme music. Seriously, it is difficult to keep your nerves under control, but here are nine things that you can do to help calm those pre-interview jitters.

Nine Steps to Calm the Jitters

1. Make a list of examples.

One of the most important things that you can do to prepare is to make a list of things that you did in the past that will benefit the company for which you are interviewing. Make a positive connection to the position for which you are applying. Look at the advertisement. Does it use the words selling, managing, stocking, customer service? Find examples that demonstrate those specific qualities.

2. Practice answering questions.

The interviewer will ask you questions such as “What can you tell me about yourself?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” These are questions that usually cause people to stumble for an answer. Practice an answer for these fairly standard queries. Keep in mind the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result). For more information about the STAR technique or interview questions, please contact the Career Development Center.

3. Research the company.

Knowing information about the company can give you an edge in the interview. You can take the information that you learn and incorporate it into your answers. For a small company about which information is limited, focus on the service or product that they provide. Be creative, but refrain from excessive flattery. Practice. Practice. Practice.

4. Have current information about the industry.

Show that you are up-to-date with the industry by incorporating current developments into your answers. You want to demonstrate how seriously you take your job in the field. However, make sure that you don’t sound like a book report. Keep current by reading industry publications or by joining an industry group.

5. Make a list of questions for the interviewer.

Finding out what your exact job responsibilities will be should be your first priority. Ask for details such as “Will I be working alone or with a team?” or “Will I be required to write daily, weekly, monthly reports on projects?” Do not ask about salary or any form of compensation during the interview.

6. Dress Appropriately.

Men: Wear a nice pair of ironed slacks and an ironed shirt with a tie; also acceptable are dark pants and a blazer with a light shirt. Stay away from loud colors and cartoon characters. Women: Wear a nice pair of dress pants, a skirt and blouse, or a dress. Stay away from loud colors or prints—no low-cut tops or very short skirts or dresses. Shoes should have a low heel. Keep make-up to a minimum. Both men and women should wear little to no cologne/perfume.

7. Practice your handshake.

A firm handshake is important to your overall first impression. It should not be too tight, nor should you pump your arm as if you are trying to rip the interviewer’s arm off. A handshake is not an arm wrestling competition. Avoid, too, the “limp fish” handshake or the demure handshake (where you look like you are going to kiss someone’s hand). Look the person in the eye while you are shaking hands.

8. Cover up tattoos and take out piercings.

While tattoos and piercings have become more commonplace these days, during a job interview such details are best covered up (tattoos) or removed (piercings). While some companies, specifically those related to the arts, tend to be more open-minded about body art, you still need to appear more conventional during your initial job interview. You may not have to keep tattoos covered and piercings out for the actual job; that would be a question to ask your interviewer.

9. A few things to remember at your interview:

  • Make sure that you have the correct address of where your interview is taking place.
  • Leave enough time for travel so that you arrive a little early.
  • Even if you are going to be only a few minutes late, call the interviewer.
  • Have extra time open for the interview in the event that it runs long.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Know the correct pronunciation of the name of your interviewer.
  • Have paper and pen handy to write down the names of anyone you meet during your interview.
  • Bring an extra résumé, cover letter, and résumé card.
  • Bring a reference list if you do not include them on your résumé.
  • Have “thank you” notes ready to send out to everyone involved in the interview.

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We know getting the perfect job can be one tough nut to crack. Luckily, the secret to your success is right here in Troup County, where you’ll find a wide range of career opportunities. And we’re here to serve you with a large helping of job openings, tips and resources. Stay positive - there are plenty of employers out there looking for one smart cookie just like you!

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