Feeling a little nervous before a job interview is inevitable, no matter how qualified you know you are for a position. Before the anxiety sets in, though, there are simple things you can do to maintain confidence throughout the process. “Self-confidence may make the difference between getting a job offer, and not,” says Dr. Sharon Millen, a licensed psychologist who goes by “Dr. M.” She founded the practice Therapy-N-More in New York City, which advises people on how to achieve their personal and professional goals. Below, she shares 19 practical interview tips that are guaranteed to help you get the job.
1. Find two things on the company’s website.
You already know to Google the company beforehand. But Dr. M says these are the two most important things to find: the mission statement and the target audience.
2. Make a list about yourself.
List your strengths and weaknesses. Then, write down your short- and long-term goals. “Knowing who you are and what you want will facilitate your ability to interview with confidence,” Dr. M says.
3. Phone a friend for a pretend interview.
Ask a friend or a family member to do a trial run with you. The point is to get comfortable with talking about yourself. “By practicing, you will be more confident with yourself and your answers, and much more likely to exude this confidence during the actual interview.”
4. Own your angst.
Instead of trying to suppress pre-interview anxiety, Dr. M says to “make friends” with it. As soon as you purposefully acknowledge your nerves, you’re able to start managing them in a constructive way.
5. Plan to sell yourself like a product.
Assuming plenty of other people are applying for the job, have an answer ready for this question: Why should the company hire you over everyone else? “Know what makes you stand out from every other individual interviewing for the same position,” Dr. M. says.
6. The day of the interview, use breathing techniques to calm down.
Breathing combats anxiety. After you find a quiet room, here’s an exercise from Dr. M: “Focus on the present moment by concentrating on your breathing and on the sensations in your body. In slowing down your heart rate, you’ll feel more centered and relaxed.”
7. Loosen up.
Stretching your jaw and shoulders helps ease nerves, according to Dr. M.
8. Imagine how a perfect interview would go.
Picture yourself at the meeting answering all of the questions confidently. Dr. M explains: “Visualizing yourself being successful will give a boost to your confidence and self-esteem.”
9. Just before heading to the interview, strike a power pose.
It’ll feel silly at first, but “power posing, or standing in a posture of confidence, affects the brain’s testosterone and cortisol levels, and makes you feel more confident.”
10. When you arrive, stand tall.
Use body language to exude confidence as soon as you enter the company’s office. How? Maintain eye contact with everyone you talk to, from the receptionist who greets you to the interviewer. Try not to fidget, and maintain good posture “with your head and shoulders up,” Dr. M says.
11. Think before you talk.
When the interviewer starts asking questions, think about what you want to say beforehand. Then, when you do go ahead and answer, Dr. M suggests making sure your voice is clear and held at an appropriate volume.
12. Avoid saying the words “I guess” and “sort of.”
Vague phrases communicate the opposite of what an interviewer wants to hear from you. Abstract words “fail to convey a sense of confidence in the statements being made,” says Dr. M.
13. Don’t ramble on.
When you’ve finished a thought, leave it at that. Going on and on “gives the impression of unease and nervousness.”
Just smiling during an interview can help boost your positive presence in the room. Which translates to showing how positive you’ll be on the job.
15. Show the interviewer you’re interested.
Simple motions like leaning forward and nodding throughout the conversation subtly show that you genuinely care about what the interviewer is saying.
16. Never lie or exaggerate.
It’s simple: Be real and believable. Dr. M suggests folding in brief insights about yourself too. When you’re asked that go-to question — Tell me about your yourself — include a brief shoutout to a personal interest or hobby. The interviewer will feel like they’re getting to know the real you.
17. Listen closely.
Refrain from dominating the conversation. Dr. M emphasizes that being an attentive listener is key during the interview process.
18. Find something you and your interviewer have in common.
At the end of the day, your interviewer is just a person. Peruse the person’s LinkedIn profile to see if you share any interests. During the interview, notice if you relate to anything on their desk (like a book), or something they say that you might relate to. Then toward the end of the interview, when you get to ask questions about the job, you can ask about it.
19. After you leave, tell yourself you aced it.
Remaining confident and optimistic about your potential new job opportunity will help even after the interview. Remember to send a thank-you e-mail.