Once you have found a job you are interested in, the next step is to make contact.  That can be through an exploratory phone call to find out more information.  Many employers start by identifying candidates as part of a phone interview, or an in-person interview.  Interviewing for a job or volunteer position can be nerve-wracking (depending on your state of mind), no matter how much work experience you’ve had prior to this job.

In order to help reduce worry and help the process go more smoothly, keep the following 5 suggestions in mind:

Work at Staying Calm.  Worry, anxiety, fear, and other emotions will be apparent, and most importantly they’ll be apparent to you!, And in the moment, your perception of yourself as anxious or fearful can lead to a downward cycle of more worry/anxiety/fear (similar to what happens in a “panic attack”).  Instead, try to stay calm using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, distraction, and positive self talk. (Most important about these? They take practice and won’t help unless you’ve learned to use them as tools.) Last, if you can’t fake it or hide your anxiety, use humor and well placed honesty to put yourself and the interviewer at ease (e.g., “I am a little nervous because I am so excited”)

Appear Confident.  Sometimes, appearing confident will lead to feeling more confident.  Even if you are not feeling very confident in the moment, it is ok to fake it.  Smile, shake hands, make eye contact.  After the first several minutes you are likely to settle down and find your rhythm.

Research the Job and Company.  A good interviewee already knows about the company and the job they are applying for.  Look up the company on the internet and see if they have a mission statement.  If you know someone who works there, ask them about the atmosphere and if they know the person you will be interviewing with.  Find out all the information you can beforehand, so you are prepared.  Interviewers like to know that you’ve taken the time to get to know their company; it shows that you are really interested in them.

Prepare.  Think about questions that you might be asked and how you will answer them.  Commonly asked questions include: Tell me about yourself; Why are you interested in this company?; Why did you leave your last job?  If you have been out of work for a while, they may ask why.  Preparing answers to those questions beforehand allows you to fine-tune your answers so you feel comfortable with them.

Practice!  By role-playing your interview or phone call you will improve your ability to be confident and fluid.  Practice getting the words out, how to phrase things, and how you want to respond to different questions.  Learn what you want to say and what you don’t want to say.  Pick a partner to role play with, preferably someone who can and will give you feedback, so you can fine-tune your approach.  You can also practice in a mirror, or to a pet, if no one else is available. Extra bonus: practicing will calm you down.

(Photo by the chosen pessimist)