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From fear factor to X Factor

Keeping calm under pressure

Finding yourself centre stage at an interview, for the first time in many years, can be one of the most daunting and frightening experiences you can have. In a world that has changed dramatically over the past few months, and in a competitive job market, you may worry that your skills are outdated or no longer relevant, and this can have a huge impact on confidence.  

But have you considered your transferable skills?  Employers recognise and appreciate that not everyone is equal, so highlighting transferable skills such as teamwork, organisation and leadership experience can often be the winning formula to a successful interview.

Getting through to interview proves you have ticked the basic boxes, but face to face is when the judging really starts, and you have to showcase the best person you can be. If you struggle with confidence – think back to a time in your previous job when you were confident – harness that feeling and bring it into your examples.  Like an audition, you only get one chance at this so don’t hold back on revealing the skills and experience you can bring to the job – bring them to life and match them to criteria the company expects from the right candidate – YOU.

When it’s your turn to perform remember these key points:

Knowledge is power

Research the company, know what the job entails and what will be expected of you as an employee.  Showing you have an interest in the company will always benefit any candidate.

You only get ONE chance to make a first impression!

Dress to impress, show you can meet the company’s standards of dress code.  You may have dressed casually in the past but this will not impress at interview and may rule you out before you even begin. Don’t wait until the last minute to sort out your interview clothes.  Have something suitable to wear at all times, as you could get caught out with an unexpected invite to interview.  Regardless of the type of job remember that first impressions count.

Body language speaks volumes

What you say and how confidently you say it is important at any interview but this could all be lost if your body language is contradicting.  Distracting the interviewer by slouching, looking off in the distance, playing with a pen or fidgeting could cost you a job offer.  Whether you’re interviewing by video conference or in person, always try to make eye contact, smile and sit upright in the chair and assure the interviewer you are actively listening by using nods to acknowledge your understanding. 

Practice makes perfect

Take the time to practice what you are going to say.  The best way to do this is by carrying out mock interviews. They will give you a chance to prepare and confidently give your answers but also keep you calm and less nervous about trying to think of an example while you’re on the spot. If you have friends or family that can help with this then take advantage, if not, look up the services that are available through the National Careers Service (external website) (England), Careers Wales (external website) (Wales), or My World of Work (external website) (Scotland).

Finally… don’t get caught out online

Employers often use the internet to check you out before offering you a position.  This is where a lot of people can fall foul. How does your social media account look to an outsider? Check privacy settings to stop any unwanted viewing. 

Remember, no matter how long it’s been since your last interview, this is your chance to shine and to showcase your skills in the best possible light. Spending time researching and practicing beforehand will help give you the confidence you need to stand out, and in turn give you the best possible chance of landing the job.