Tips on Handling Interview Nerves

How do you handle nerves before an interview?   We get asked this a lot from our candidates and truthfully, it is not so much how you stop those nerves but how you manage them. Here are our top tips for prepping for an interview & not letting those nerves get in the way:

  1. Take Control of what you can

Nothing gives your nerves an adrenalin kick like running late or being disorganised for an interview. Make sure you control what you can and be as organised as humanely possible. This means:

  • Do you research a few days before your interview (no cramming on the bus on your way in).
  • Know where you are going, who you are meeting, what time you have to be there and allow extra time for any delays out of your control.
  • Have your outfit picked, ironed and ready to go to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions.
  • Have a good nights sleep the night before (no big nights or hangovers before the Big Day).
  1. Take Care of the Physical Nerve Reactions

If sweaty palms are a side effect of your nerves – be prepared and have a hanky in your bag or pocket (we know – you might have to borrow one from your Nanna – but they are so handy & don’t disintegrate after the first use). There really is nothing worse than shaking hands with a candidate and feeling the balmy squelch as you connect…YUK!

  1. Own your Nerves!

We get it. The Hiring Manager gets it. Everyone is human and nerves are natural. Own them!! Let your interviewer know you are feeling a little nervous and be honest. It will not only help diffuse the situation & let everyone know how you are feeling, it also demonstrates that you are a good communicator who is able to articulate what you are feeling and not being too shy or embarrassed to say so! Also, nerves mean you are keen on the job & want to make a good impression! That never hurts for the interviewer to know!!

  1. Deep Breaths and Take your Time

Your voice is shaky, or perhaps you are talking really fast, maybe you have sweat dripping off your brow as you try to listen to the questions. Sound like you??
STOP. Take a deep breath. Have a drink of water (wipe your brow if necessary). Slow everything down.
Focus on the question you are being asked and answer the question. Don’t waffle. Stop and take a breath whenever you feel like you are starting to nervously waffle, wobble or lose concentration.

Interviews are not easy. They are not mean to be. They are as much as about seeing how you perform under pressure as they are about your experience & getting to know you better. Take control of what you can, do your best to manage the nerves with all the components you can control. Practice deep breaths, have a laugh and run with it. Now is your time to SHINE!

If you want to talk more about how you can prepare for an interview, feel free to get in touch with the Sprint Team.

Aligning your Ambition with the Job Interview.

When you are talking about “ambition” in a job interview, make sure that you are keeping it relevant and aligning your response to the role you are interviewing for. Make no mistake, ambition is great. It creates energy and enthusiasm in people and it’s what drives them. All very good things.

No employer ever briefs me on finding them a lazy, unmotivated, disheartened employee – ever. What they do, is brief me on a specific job and quite simply the want someone to do THAT job. End of story.

The word “ambition” is often brought up before, during and after an interview. Sometimes clients say that they’d prefer to find someone who isn’t too ambitious, as they would prefer the person to stay in the role for a length period of time (as opposed to going through the effort and expense of re-recruiting quickly). Other times they’re open to recruiting an ambitious person with a bright, active mind – full of new ideas. Perfect for a dynamic, growing business and/or team. It really will depend on the role and company.

But what I need to help you understand is that if you WANT TO GET THE JOB you are interviewing for, then you need to keep your ambition aligned with what an employer would most likely expect for the role that they are recruiting.

Recently I’ve had a few candidates asked the question: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” (In the world of office support roles I feel is a ridiculous question. But I will write about why I feel that way next week so stay tuned!)… I had one candidate reply with “running my own childcare centre. I’ve been saving for years now, it’s a pipe dream but I know I’ll get there eventually”.

Ok. So this came from a fantastic EA who had a hell of a lot to give the business and she genuinely felt that would show them that she was ambitious and capable of more than just an EA role. However, we must remember that the client is a CEO, and he is hiring an EA. He wants someone to be the best EA in the ENTIRE world, save his day, make him even more successful than he ever thought he could be and build a close knit business partnership…He doesn’t want to hire someone who isn’t committed to him and his role. You can imagine how that interview ended. She missed out on the role. Sadly, up to that point he wanted to pretty much offer her on the spot (due to her background, presentation and the first 30 minutes of the interview).

It’s not that her ambition was wrong – but sometimes you have to show discretion when you are in an interview. Keep your short term ambitions relevant to the role you are interviewing for and hold off on disclosing your long term ambitions (as long as it doesn’t effect your ability to commit to the job at hand).

Some might say that the role wasn’t right for her, as ultimately she wanted to run a childcare centre. I disagree. It really was a pipedream and for the next 3-5 years she is ready to commit to a fantastic EA role however, by disclosing her ambition she was overlooked.

If you think of how a CEO of any major corporation would answer that question, he wouldn’t be saying to answer the board of Directors , “I’m keen to retire in the country, build up my own B&B business, grow citrus trees and tend my veggie patch’. It doesn’t really scream “hire me” as the driving force of your company.

So by all means be open about your plans for the future but try to keep them relevant to what relates to the employer and the job you are applying for. Use some discretion and make sure your ambition is aligned with the role you are interviewing for.

Naomi Marshall – Director
P: (02) 9271 0011
M: 0422 139 910


The Must Have Interview Preparation Checklist

Do you have an interview checklist? You can only be so prepared for an interview, especially when you are still working in your current job and you are interviewing for multiple roles. However, every candidate needs to do a little bit of preparation before every interview. It’s not only common sense, it will end up being what sets you apart from the competition!!

So with that in mind, and to keep it simple and easy, I wanted to share with you my Interview Preparation Checklist. These are the absolute MUST DO’s before you go into each and every interview (yes…even with us recruiters)!! You can of course do more than this but these are the basic ones that too often, I see candidates skipping some or all of and then losing out on a great opportunity.

Bookmark this page and come back to it before you go to your next interview!

Interview Preparation Checklist:

  1. Research the company
    Hello Google!! But also, ask around, get some insight from any contacts or friends who work there or have worked there. Ask your recruiter for their insight!
    HINT – Did you know that if you type in the name of a company and then under the Google search bar, click on “news”, the results will bring up all the latest news articles about said company. This is a great way to know what is currently going on in this organisation!
  1. Research your Interviewer
    LinkedIn makes this easy – but also take the same approach as above. Ask around, do some Googling. Know whom you are meeting with and what their background is. (It is even better if you can find some common ground or people you both know).
  1. Review your resume!
    I know, this sounds simple but look it over and make sure you know what you have included and left out!! The better you know your resume, the more confident you will be when talking about your experience and your career to date.
  1. Plan your Answers
    Crazy right, how can you predict what you will be asked? Most interviews include some behavioural based questions (click here to find out more). It is really important you have a list of examples you can give to these questions and don’t try to think them up on the spot.
    Have a handful of really good examples you can call on. Usually one example would suit a variety of questions, you just need to be prepared!
  1. Rehearse your examples out loud!
    Don;t worry about sounding silly! You need to practice articulating your answers and examples of your experience out loud. You don’t want to stumble on your responses (and it is an easy thing to do during an interview). Check out what Nyome had to say about this recently here.
  1. Plan YOUR questions.
    Make sure you are prepared to ask the interviewer questions (more often than not, candidates forget this step). Asking questions is so important in an interview and it is an opportunity to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role as well as the fact that you have researched the company.
  1. Have your outfit planned
    Make sure your shirts are ironed and clean. Suit up and dress to impress. It is always better to be overdressed for an interview than underdressed.
  1. Triple check the interview details
    You are human, mistakes can happen – trust me I’ve made many. Triple check you know what time your interview is, where you are going and how you are going to get there (on time)! Nothing worse than rocking up to your interview flustered because you got the time wrong or couldn’t find the address, etc.
  1. Tell yourself You ROCK!
    Be confident and believe in yourself. As recruiters, we believe in you, that is why we’ve sent you to our client or called you in to meet with us. Remind yourself of your skills and that you are a valuable team member.

Of course, there are other things you can do for an interview and there are sometimes homework “tasks” you are asked to do before specific interviews. But as a rule of thumb, the above checklist works! Being prepared and demonstrating this during your interview (and believe me, clients and recruiters know if you have prepared) really sets you a part from what most of your competition is doing. So take a little time, the day or night before an interview and go over this checklist.

If you are still not feeling confident or have other questions you want clarity around, contact us at Sprint. We are here to help and will always go over any interview preparation you think you may need.

“So you’ve scored an interview – but what should you wear..?”

What to wear? What not to wear? Are bright colours okay or should I stick to dark? What about creative companies??? And the list goes on in terms of questions I regularly receive regarding “What to wear to interviews?”

My answer has always been very simple “It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed for interviews, you need to look smart and show your prospective employer that you are ready for business….however, you always want to show some of your personality”

I’m sure you are saying “What the hell does that mean?!”

Let’s break it down to a couple of key bullet points…

  • Irrespective of what type of company, corporate or creative, CBD based, out in the sticks, large or small….an interview is an interview. End of story. It’s not a gossip catch up with the girls where jeans, thongs and t-shirt is okay. It’s your first chance to impress someone. Would you go on a date with a hot guy or girl that you REALLLLYYYYY like looking like you’d just been pulled through the bush backwards? Of course not, you would spend all day agonising over your outfit, how to wear it, how to do your hair, you’d shower, make yourself smell nice rada rada.
  • Well an interview is probably nowhere near as exciting as a hot date (unfortunately!) however, it is still the time for you to show a prospective employer what you are made of and as clichéd as it sounds “FIRST IMPRESSIONS LAST”.
  • It DOES matter if  you iron your shirt, it DOES matter if your shoes are scuffed and it DEFINITELY DOES matter if you turn up to an interview looking like you’ve just rolled out of bed with no make-up on and your hair all over the place.
  • Ask yourself as you walk out the door ‘If I was in a position to hire a new employee, would I hire ME???.
  • Not to be too harsh about this but staff are the single biggest risk and cost to businesses in Australia. Australian salaries are high compared to other countries and on top of that companies are required by law to make super contributions, pay workers compensation as well as payroll tax to the government – in short, staff are a major cost to companies so don’t act surprised when they say they want to hire THE BEST OF THE BEST! If you don’t look the part, if you can’t make an effort (and I mean a real effort) they why should they make an effort to hire you?!

So again what does this all mean in terms of your dress and appearance for interviews…

  • For girls nothing beats a dress with a jacket or a straight pencil skirt, modern shirt and top with jacket as well as heels and some tasteful jewellery. None of this needs to cost a fortune. You can buy one great black dress (try to buy it in wool, it will breathe and also last longer) and change the look with different coloured shirts underneath, different coloured belts, even coloured shoes. You also don’t have to wear a black jacket, something with a bit of colour is fine as long as it’s not too loud (avoid neon’s for 1st interview).
  • You can jazz it up a bit with coloured necklaces or a groovy bangle but don’t go overboard.  A bit of colour is fine, too much and you’ll look overdone.
  • For boys, if it is a very corporate company then I would suggest a suit. Pants, matching jacket, tidy shirt and possibly a tie. Even you don’t wear the tie but you have the other things on you’ll still show them that you are there for business. For less corporate you should still make the effort to wear dress pants (not jeans, no matter what they cost, what brand they are, how good they make you look) and a well ironed shirt.
  • For both guys and girls the following applies:
    • Get a haircut if you need it or for girls, pull your hair back and ensure it is tidy. This is not the time to be showing off your creative new birds nest teased creation with coloured bow clips. Keep it simple.
    • Shoes – make sure they are clean, if you have heels that are scuffed then buy a new pair and try to keep them for interviews or important meetings. Use your old ones to do the leg work to get you around (or even better, wear ballet flats) and pop your new ones on just before you walk in. If you can’t afford a new pair ask a friend to borrow a pair and tell them you’ll shout them a movie once you are offered a new job.
    • Make up (for girls)….sorry girls but it’s a must, it really is. You don’t need much and less is always best but wearing none can make you look washed out…don’t you want to look your best?? Especially for a first meeting. Strive to be the best you can me, you want to be remembered. A bit of foundation or even a wipe of face powder, slick of lipgloss and a quick brush of blush will at least brighten you up.
    • Shopping bags – don’t take them. If you must, state the point as soon as you arrive that you are very sorry you have shopping bags, it was just due to timing and circumstance that you couldn’t drop them off somewhere first etc etc.
    • If it’s freezing cold outside and you are wearing a large overcoat, take it off when you arrive. Sitting in a bulky overcoat not only looks uncomfortable but chances are you will get hot and you don’t want to have to be interrupting the interview to take it off midway through.
    • Rings on your fingers (excluding wedding rings of course!) keep them to a minimum eg. one or two, you don’t need one on every finger, it just looks messy. Interviewers look at your hands a lot, so on that point make sure your nails are tidy as well (e.g. no chipped nail polish).
    • Earrings – keep them to one in each ear (small studs, avoid anything that jangles, dangle or is distracting for the interview).
    • Piercings – take them out (YES, I MEAN IT!) Some clients are ok about them, others are not. Don’t run the risk of putting a client off in the first 30 seconds they meet you by wearing facial studs. I can’t tell you how many people I have interviewed where I ask if they would take them out and they say “of course, I’d never wear it to an interview’…It always amazes me (so an interview with an agency is not an interview??) You need to impress us too! Every single meeting you have with anyone to do with your career is your chance to build a positive and lasting first impression. Always remember that.
    • It is absolutely fine to wear the same outfit to 1st and 2nd interview, do not freak out about that. No client in my entire career has ever come back to me and said “we really like the candidate however, we did notice she had the same outfit on’. Never! They only notice that you made an effort and looked smart.

One a final note, please remember that interviews are your chance to build a lasting impression on someone and the truth is a vast majority of opinions are formed about someone in the first 10 seconds…because of how you look. Before anyone goes off at me and says ‘so you have to be pretty, you have to be thin’….that is absolutely NOT the case. You have to present yourself the BEST way you can. Dress well, dress appropriately, do your hair, do your make up, iron, carry a handbag not a plastic shopping bag and smile! THEN after that comes your performance in an interview….to be discuss in our next blog.

It’s sad but I have had clients reject candidates on presentation….deemed as discrimination? Sure is…but the cold hard truth is that it happens. So don’t allow it happen to you and rise above the rest – present yourself the best you can, not just for interviews but for every single interaction you have with people…… and see how positive that can make you feel.