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  • I still get nervous when I interview

    By Women@Ward on May 31, 2022

    Verona Daly, People & Talent Partner I still get nervous when I interview. I thought that when I was the one doing the interviewing, I wouldn’t be nervous anymore, that for some magical unknown reason, I’d suddenly be super cool and confident. I guess I assumed that once I had done it enough, it wouldn’t...

    • Verona Daly, People & Talent Partner

      I still get nervous when I interview.

      I thought that when I was the one doing the interviewing, I wouldn’t be nervous anymore, that for some magical unknown reason, I’d suddenly be super cool and confident. I guess I assumed that once I had done it enough, it wouldn’t make me nervous anymore.

      I do have a couple of theories as to why I felt this way. Maybe it was the theatre kid in me – once I was off book, had my scripted memorised and I stepped on stage, I wasn’t nervous. Maybe mistakenly, I thought that recruitment would be similar to that. I suppose in some ways it is, recruitment is a performance. It’s not quite the same as playing a fictional character, but it’s a performance nonetheless and a performance I’m still nervous for.

      Now obviously, I’m not nervous for myself these days, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember how those nerves felt. I’m a big believer that nerves are good, and we should appreciate them for what they are. Nerves are not a sign of weakness or insecurity; nerves are a sign of passion. Of genuine interest, of a desire to have something go well. It all depends on what you do with those nerves that make or break you.

      In order to not break with the nerves, I dance. I’d really like to stress here that I am in no way coordinated, rhythmic or a talented dancer, nor am I claiming to be. What I mean when I say ‘I dance’ is that I dance it out. If you’ve ever seen Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Meredith and Christina – when things get tough – they dance it out. I have to say, it works. It works spectacularly well, because for however long you’re dancing it out, your mind is not thinking about what’s to come.

      I’m not talking about a perfectly choreographed dance either, I really mean just mean shaking it off, being messy and just moving your body to get that blood flowing, and it’s something you can do anywhere. For my final interview for this very role, I was in work. I couldn’t get the time off, couldn’t book a private room anywhere, so I ended up doing my final interview with my now manager, surrounded by shoe boxes in the corner of a stockroom. I still danced it out, even in that tiny space, sitting in an office chair I’d taken with me. Our Stockroom Manager saw me dance for 4 minutes and 21 seconds to ‘August’ by Taylor Swift, just before I hopped onto a final round interview for a job I really wanted.

      Even now, six months into my job, I still dance it out when I get nervous. If I have a candidate moving to a final round interview, if I have a screening call with someone that I’ve been trying to get, I’ll still shake it off, because I still get nervous in these situations. If you thought I was nervous when I was interviewing for my own job, you should’ve seen my first ever screening call. I could feel the nerves in my stomach waiting for the moment I could call my candidate. What did I do? I set aside a few minutes, and I danced around my room. Similarly, to when I was on the other end of the phone, it worked; I was less nervous and felt I gave my candidate a better screening call because of it.

      I would really like to stress, my dear reader, that I’m not saying that I got a job because I danced to Taylor Swift just before a final round interview (although, I have managed to work her in to every project I’ve done since). I’m not even attempting to say that I got this job because I was relaxed in the interview and not stressed. It’s not a fool proof method, I’ve used it many times and didn’t get the job I wanted, but I’ve always felt that I’ve given a better interview after it, and felt like a better interviewer because of it.

      Being honest, it very well could be a placebo effect of sorts. In my mind though, I was much more relaxed while doing my interview, I was much less nervous than I would have been, and I was able to concentrate more on being in the moment instead of fretting over what I had just said and immediately wishing I could swallow my own words.

      No one is confident and cool all of the time. No one is above nerves. No one has the right to take your nerves are use them against you. You should be in control of your own nerves, and embrace them. Use them as motivation, as a lesson, or break them. Maybe for you, it won’t be dancing, it could be meditating, it could be deep breathing exercises, it could be going for a walk. It could be anything in the world that isn’t just sitting still, 5 minutes before an interview, letting your mind wander into what if’s and overly rehearsed answers.

      So, to circle back to my original point, I still get nervous when I interview and that’s okay! That’s what separates me from a robot; it’s me, a real person, sitting behind the screen. It makes me flawed and human, it makes me invested into my candidates. I want the candidate I’m talking with to do well. I want them to succeed, I want them to have the perfect interview experience / candidate journey (whether or not that exists is a topic for a different blog) and want them to walk away from our interview thinking that they could be happy here. That they can tell the kind of people we are and the kind of environment we work in, and it’s one they want to join.

      The best thing about these nerves? I have the ability to feel this way at Ward, to be emotional, to be nervous, to advocate for my candidates, ask ridiculous questions (like how to pronounce SIEM!) and dance it out, and never once feel judged or look down upon. It’s scary to do an interview, from both sides of the interview table, so do what you need to make it more comfortable for you.

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