May 10, 2017

Read Time IconRead time: 8 mins

Your worst enemy during a job interview

You’ve applied for the job, confident in your ability to tick off their required qualification boxes, and you’ve landed the job interview.

You might even feel like their description of the ideal candidate was written for you. But with 33% of surveyed recruiters admitting they know if they’ve found the right applicant for the job within the first 90 seconds1, there might be something standing in your way of job success – something you haven’t even considered yet.


The first impression you give off in the opening minutes of your job interview could be the difference between signing the contract or heading back out on the job hunt.

You need to make sure you’re not standing in your own way during the interview – fight the nerves, put the best version of yourself forward and let your abilities speak for themselves.

Here are the four steps to take to get out of your own way and land that job.

job interview success

  1. Create a cycle of positivity during your job search

Your fear of being incompetent is usually far greater than your actual shortcomings. You’re not alone in feeling concerned that you don’t have what it takes to get where you want to be. Mental Floss describes the phenomenon of Imposter Syndrome as the following:

“Those who struggle with Imposter Syndrome maintain a strong belief that they are not intelligent; in fact they are convinced that they have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.”2

So how do you snap out of it?

You need to swap out the default decisions you might be making on a daily basis that negatively affect your attitude, for a cycle of positivity.

What a cycle of positivity looks like:

Instead of hitting snooze, aim to wake up 30 minutes earlier and get a short workout in. Exercising in the morning will help you to make healthier decisions during the day. Every positive decision you make, from a healthy lunch to tipping your barista slightly more will encourage a cycle of positivity that will translate to improved confidence and a positive attitude during your job interview.

2. Interview preparation is the key to a confidence boost

One surefire way to rid yourself of excessive nerves before your job interview is to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be. It was reported that 47% of the time, interviewees did not possess enough knowledge about the organisation they were applying to be a part of.3

No matter how qualified you are, if you’re unprepared, you’ll give off the perception you don’t really want to be there.

What preparation looks like:
  • Research the company you’re interviewing at – find out exactly what they do and how you’d be contributing, look at their values and mission statements, and identify things you think they do well as well as problem areas. With this information, you’ll be able to demonstrate your thoroughness and strategic abilities.
  • Think about your standard responses – you might experience a few unexpected questions but there are a host of common questions likely to come up during your interview. Prepare yourself for these so your delivery is confident and you’re satisfied with your answers. You also need to go in with questions for your interviewers, showing them you are interested in more than simply landing a job.
  • Plan your job interview outfit – the last thing you want on game day is to stress about what you’re going to wear. As far as you can, research the organisation’s dress code and dress slightly more professionally than their staff might. Don’t over do it either, first meetings are not the place for trialing new fashions. Keep it neutral and simple – you want them to remember what you say, not what you’re wearing.

job interview preparation

3. Fake confidence if you’re nervous during your job interview

No matter how experienced you are, you’re bound to be nervous walking into the lobby of your potential new employer’s office. And with 67% of surveyed interviewers reporting that candidates failed to maintain good eye contact during the process4, your lack of confidence might be stopping you from making your best impression.

Don’t let nerves get the better of you – even if you don’t feel sure of yourself, fake it and no one will be the wiser.

What feigning confidence looks like:
  • Your body language is a huge indicator of your anxiety. Before, during and after your job interview, think about giving a firm handshake, sitting up straight and smiling when appropriate. You also need to maintain natural eye contact: don’t stare at the ceiling but don’t stare down your hiring manager either. Practice the 60% rule, looking your panel in the eye when they ask questions but allowing for space when you’re thinking of a response.
  • Too many filler words are instant indicators that you don’t know what you want to say. Avoid “um” and “like” when responding, even if it is buying you time to think of the perfect answer.
  • Finally, don’t forget to breathe. Before answering any question, take 2 seconds to breathe deeply. This will calm your nerves and give you time to formulate a response.

how many people get job interviews

4. Stay in touch with reality during the job hunt

Here’s the thing about making it to the interview stage: the people sitting opposite you aren’t out to get you. In fact, they’re rooting for your success. They want to like you. They want to choose you.

With only 2% of applicants making it to the interview round, you need to remember the odds are in your favour.5

Keep this in mind as you take your seat in the interviewing room – they believe you have what it takes to fill the position, now all you have to do is be yourself and show them you want it.

And if you don’t get the job? Treat the experience as a lesson: ask for feedback from your interviewer if they don’t give it to you and think about ways you might have better answered a question. Sometimes it’s as simple as the company not being the right fit for you.

Want to give yourself an edge before you walk into the interview room?

Have a look at GetSmarter’s online short course portfolio and give your interviewer another reason to hire you.


2Mental Floss
3Sterling Talent Solutions
4The Undercover Recruiter

Filed under: Career advice