Congratulations! You landed a job interview. Exciting, but also nerve-wracking. You need to appear confident and competent without seeming overly arrogant. But if you’re nervous, it’s hard to appear confident, especially if you’re applying for a job that’s a little over your head. If they sense your fear and anxiety, will you bomb the interview? Here are three ways to appear more confident when you’re heading into a first job interview.
Monitor Your Body Language
Body language can help you control your thoughts as well as help you appear confident to your interviewer. First, focus on your breathing. Anxiety can cause blood to flow away from our brains, affecting how we think and process. So stay present and slow down your breath to help you calm your nerves and improve your cognitive functioning. Second, control your fidgeting. Clasp your hands together on your lap or on the table and avoid any finger-tapping, hair twirling, knee-bumping, or another type of squirming.
Next, maintain eye contact. Don’t stare at the person intensely, it’s fine to glance away now and then, but if you can’t look them in the eye when you’re answering a question, it’s a sure sign of nervousness. Position your body so that you seem confident. Give a firm handshake and then stand or sit in an open position—your arms by your side, not crossed. Step into the room and make your body seem larger and confident, not small and meek. Don’t take steps backward or shy away into a corner.
Sometimes when we’re nervous, we overcompensate by talking too much and too fast, which just makes our apprehension more apparent and makes it easy for the interviewer to get confused. Instead, take your time and slow down your speech. You can even say something like, “Let me think about that a moment…” and then begin your answer. If you blurt out an answer too quickly, you might say something you regret or that sounds silly. Feel free to pause and consider before you give a bad answer.
Prepare and Rehearse Your Answers
Well before the interview even starts, you can imagine yourself succeeding. If you have that vision in your brain going in, you’ll feel more relaxed and confident, like you’re the absolute best person for the job. Then rehearse your answers ahead of time. Practice talking about the skills, experiences, knowledge, and personal qualities you have that qualify you for this job. Reflect on the way you developed these. Think about all those prior experiences that have helped you grow and improve and become who you are today. And while you don’t have to dwell on the failures and mistakes, remember that those have all been learning opportunities, too. You learned a lesson, overcame an obstacle, and now you’re better for it.
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