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Overcoming Interview Nerves With The STAR Method & Preparation

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Job interviews cause most people to feel anxious or nervous. Since we’ve just launched a new short online course for job interview training, which provides attendees with the secrets to our STAR Method of answering interview questions, we thought we’d take this opportunity to explore the basics of managing interview nerves.


Who gets interview nerves?

According to a survey from JDP, nearly all job candidates (93%) have experienced anxiety relating to their interview. So, the first thing to acknowledge is that you’re not alone. Feeling nervous is a completely normal sign of performance pressure. The good news is that, in most instances, nerves can be managed.

Today, job candidates are likely experiencing more nerves than normal, due to the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in because of COVID-19. You might be interviewing for a job that’s slightly off-track from your usual career. Maybe you’ve been asked to participate in a video interview instead of going into the office. Perhaps it’s simply been a long time since you were last interviewed.

All these factors can pile on the nerves.

What will a job interview ask you

The first step in managing interview nerves is preparation. So having a think around the types of questions your job interviewer might ask you is a good idea. Below we’ve listed some common questions:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What attracted you to this company?
  • Where do you see yourself in a year’s/5 years time?
  • Tell us about a time when you’ve demonstrated [required skill in job description].
  • What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenge in this role?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

Make sure you prepare answers to these questions ahead of time. This will make you feel calmer and more confident in the interview when these common questions arise.

How to manage curveball questions in a job interview

Good job interview preparation is critical but however much you prepare and rehearse, there’s likely to be one question your interviewer asks that catches you off guard. So you need a strategy for managing these curveball questions. Our STAR Method is one such strategy, which we’ll introduce later on, but here are some other top tips to remember:

1. Pause before you answer

Too often, when we feel put on the spot, we feel pressure to answer straight away. We end up babbling something unconsidered or nonsensical because we didn’t take the time to stop and think. Pick up your mug of coffee or glass of water and take a sip. Use this as an opportunity to create some space and time to consider your response.

2. Take a deep breath

Nerves and anxiety can increase your heart rate, which can send you into a panic when that curveball question comes your way. Panic is not conducive to clear thinking. So take a deep breath through your nose to the count of 3 and then slowly breathe out. Doing this two or three times will help to lower your heart rate (and buy you some time while you think of an answer).

3. Deliver with confidence

The content of your answer may be unprepared but if you deliver your response with confidence, it could be the key to convincing your interviewer you’ve got it covered. Your body language is a huge part of this. Sit up straight but relaxed, make eye contact, smile and don’t fidget. You’ll be surprised what a difference these small changes can make, not only to their impression of you but also your own mood.

4. Be authentically you

Nobody has all the answers – and if they do, they’re probably cheating. If a question completely stumps you, acknowledge it and turn it into an opportunity to reveal yourself as a human being. If you have a good understanding of who you are and even what’s your personal brand, a curveball question becomes a chance to demonstrate your unique character. Maybe it’s humour and the ability to laugh at yourself. Perhaps you can challenge the interviewer or tweak their question to create a topic with which you’re more comfortable. Whatever it might be, remember you’re human and show them that in a positive light.

Introducing the STAR Method

The STAR Method is a simple strategy for answering job interview questions well. It stands for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

The STAR Method is, in essence, a framework for structuring powerful interview responses that showcase your knowledge and experience in the best way possible – almost like a miniature case study.

If you need help managing your interview nerves or want to learn more about using the STAR Method to create compelling and memorable interview responses, join our Job Interview Training: How to be the STAR candidate online course today.

The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.

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