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Interview Nerves? Strategies for Nervous Candidates (Pictures are worth a million words!)

Updated: Jul 28, 2020


An excerpt from a recent email to one of my candidates…

Dear Candidate,

Thanks for the follow up with me this afternoon. I am glad that you were able to arrange this meeting with “potential employer”. Please remember that “XYZ Boss” knows a lot of people. This is a great opportunity for you to network…no matter what happens. Be sure to ask for, and collect the cards of all present (we will use these cards later – in future article) at your interview (You can also scan their QR code on LinkedIn – see below for instructions).

Here are some strategies that have worked for other nervous candidates (e.g., introverts, super-tech geeks, compulsive over-talkers, or…sweaty, just-went-blank candidates) in the past:

1. Bullet Your 3-5 Greatest Achievements: Your 3-5 greatest achievements – bulleted (with quantifiable impact or qualifications). This will be helpful as a cheat sheet – or if you get side-tracked or forgetful.

2. Bring a Picture (or 2): Remember that a picture/example is worth a thousand words. DO – bring a “visual depiction” or illustration of a problem that you solved or a process that you built…to use as a “show and tell” device. Perhaps you have an exceptional reference from a boss; or a review from a customer you may use? Remember…you only need a few lines! DO NOT – bring a “book” of examples! One or two neat and easy to read pieces of paper laid out on a table in front of you (when needed) is a good way to illicit questions from the interviewers…or to re-focus a conversation when you get nervous, talkative or forgetful.

3. Research! Know the Company…Know the Interviewers: Be certain to research the company (and your interviewers too) prior to your interview. Use tools like Bing, Google, LinkedIn and others, to search for information about the company before you go to your interview. This information should be recent, relevant and interesting. If given the chance, use these facts to show you did your homework.

***Side note: in a small-market city (like Buffalo) – use LinkedIn to find common connections to the people at your interview. Chances are that you and the interviewer will know some of the same people. This may work in your favor, especially if that common connection will vouch for your competency, when asked. Bring up those people at the interview or later, in your thank you email.***

4. Practice your “Mantras” & Know Your “Story Lines” (BEFORE…the interview): Develop a FLEXIBLE script. For the nervous, sweaty, forgetful and compulsive-talkers…always have some pre-practiced mantras or sayings to fall back on when all else fails. These mantras should be positive and useful. NEVER…EVER …mention anything negative about your past employer. It sets the wrong tone for the interview, and in the end may make you look like a negative person (and there are already too many negative people in the world ;-). Use words like:

· I am excited about this opportunity, because…

· I chose to start a search for a new team, because…

· I am passionate about…

· I am looking forward to…

· I love to learn…

5. Be Honest…Be Human…Say it Out Loud: When there is an “elephant” in the room …it is OK to say to the interviewer– I just want you to know that: “as an ‘introvert’ – I get very nervous during interviews, so feel free to let me know if I get off topic”. You can also say… “I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT (‘fill in the blank’) – or “(‘__’) is my core competency, and I am very good at doing ‘___’ – but not so good at interviewing.” Then say, “I want to thank you in advance for your patience with me today, as we go through this difficult process.”

If you get stuck – look at your re-start button (e.g., pictures, your list of achievements, your mantras) they will help you.

Finally – do not forget to follow up any meeting with a thank you note via email - and be sure to mention one specific thing (e.g., the friendly team, the interesting test, the great coffee) about your meeting/interview. This will help to differentiate you from the other candidates – as someone who is special, unique…and grateful.

Keep me posted and best wishes.

David @ Step Forte (YouTube: Step Forte & )

Please help me to make my free training materials better by sharing the ideas/strategies that have worked for you. Likes and comments are greatly appreciated. Thank You!

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