Job Interview Guide
Looking to ace your next job interview? This guide will help you prepare for various types of job interviews, review common interview questions, and learn essential interview techniques.
Job Interview Guide

Body Language and Presentation Skills: Handling Stress and Nerves

The first thing an interviewer will do when you meet for the first time is make a quick judgment or assessment about you.  In order to make a positive impression during an interview, practicing body language - as well as repeating answers to a few questions, will put you at ease during the meeting.  Using visual communication and body language will contribute to a great first impression.  All candidates need to appear confidant, as follows:

  • Meet your recruiter with a firm handshake

  • When you first sit down for the interview, sit up tall and roll your shoulders back and down. Raise your head and take a breath.  Square your shoulders toward the interviewers and slightly lean in.  Good posture exudes confidence, friendliness and trustworthiness.

  • Keep your head straight and look forward, avoid tilting your head or appearing too casual.

  • Facial expressions, such as frowning, looking down, twitching your mouth will reveal nervousness. Maintaining a positive, pleasant facial appearance will convey a sense of interest.

  • Making eye contact is extremely important; in the beginning, look at the recruiter for 5-6 seconds and smile. Look them directly in the eye and have a warm expression on your face. You want to draw that person into you.  Then, change your focus to other parts of their face, instead of staring the whole time into their eyes.

  • Mirror your interviewers body language, intermittently. For example, if the recruiter puts his left arm on the table, place your right arm on the table, across from him/her.  Mirroring someone can often show, in a subtle way, that you have similar thoughts and are connected.

  • To look and feel more confidant, sit up straight, put your hands on the table with a note pad and take up space. Clasp your hands on the table, when not taking notes or expressing yourself.  Putting your hands on the table, instead of in your lap, works very well when you are nervous.  It demonstrates a level of confidence - even if you don’t feel that way.

  • Use your hands to emphasize your points. Show your palms.

  • Taking notes will not only occupy your hands, but will show that you are interested and are processing the information presented.

  • Control distracting motion, such as: fidgeting; hands in the hair; bouncing leg; touching the face; folding arms across the chest.

  • Actively listen and acknowledge by shaking your head that you understand.

Alternatively, do not round your shoulders, look down and appear unsure of yourself.

The interview process can be stressful, and many candidates become nervous and anxious leading up to the interview.  Following a few steps in advance will make the process easier.

The best way to avoid stress in any interview is to research the job description against your own background and experience and be well-prepared about the requirements and what you have to offer.  By being prepared you will naturally feel more confident.  Practice answering hypothetical questions in front of a mirror, out loud, or with a friend.  By memorizing a script, some language will be easier to communicate at the actual meeting. 

Plan ahead and make sure that you arrive early, so that you can become comfortable in your surroundings and take in the atmosphere.  Breathe deeply and visualize a positive experience.  Avoid thinking negative thoughts.  Some individuals find it helpful to meditate before an interview to calm their nerves.

At the beginning of the interview, introduce some small talk, which will break the ice and help with nerves.  Notice a painting or photo; discuss weather; traffic; sports - anything that will be engaging and put you at ease.  During the interview, ask thoughtful questions so that the interviewer has the responsibility to provide answers, and you can assess the situation and regroup.

There are always nerves associated with any interview; the hiring professionals are aware and usually empathetic.  Doing research, practicing answers, and staying positive are a few ways to curb your anxiety.