I’ve been running nationwide job readiness workshops I designed with International Citizen Service for their 18-25-year-old volunteers returned from projects all over the world. The events involve these amazing young people practising their engagement and job interview skills with a range of employers. This post is about a common theme arising from employer feedback.

We’ve all been there. The interviewer asks you a question, you respond instantly with your pre-prepared answer, you catch yourself rabbiting on for far too long, you become self-conscious and lose your thread. The temptation is to just let it all out in that bursting desire to impress. As the sweat drips relentlessly, you ask yourself or the interviewer ‘what was the question again?’

How do you manage yourself in the moment?

  • Consciously recognise how you are feeling physically so you can adjust if necessary.
  • Use your nerves as positive energy through smiling and hearing your voice as soon as you enter the interview room.
  • Introduce yourself first, don’t wait to be asked.
  • Put one hand behind the other so one can’t be seen, press it firmly and then release to relax.
  • Slow down when speaking.
  • Accept or ask for a glass of water to allow you to pause and focus before answering.
  • If you lose your way, ask a question back that shows you have done your research.
  • Ensure you have heard and understood the question being asked before answering (check if you are unsure).

7 tips for cutting the waffle

All the above can help you with nerves and to help you settle. You still have to answer the question appropriately if you want to impress at a job interview. Employers want you to cut to the chase and be specific. Here are 7 tips:

  1. Use a mental framework to structure your answers like Be a STARR.
  2. Get to the point by being focused, relevant and concise.
  3. Show your thought process in tackling a problem or dealing with a situation, not just what you did.
  4. Give two examples if you get the opportunity.
  5. Use keywords from the job profile and expand to show your understanding.
  6. Ensure the example you give matches the competence (can do) or talent (can do naturally) or strength (a talent honed through practice and you love doing) that you are being questioned about.
  7. Show rather than just tell, e.g. portfolios, designs, languages (teach them how to say something), your websites and blogs. Leave a takeaway.

What helps you to manage yourself in the moment and impress at a job interview? What has worked for you in how you answer the questions? Share your tips below!