So far we’ve been looking at the best ways to prepare in the weeks and months before your interview. Today we’re going to be looking at some tips for making the most of the last few days and how to feel prepared without panicking.
Dealing with nerves
It’s natural to be nervous for your interview – you’ve worked hard to get there and it seems like a lot is riding on it going well. Remember that the interview is only one part of the application process, and that there is no magic secret to success. However, there are ways to stop nerves getting in the way of you performing at your best.
- Be prepared – you can’t predict what an interviewer will ask you, but you’ll feel more confident if you’ve brushed up on your existing knowledge beforehand. Make sure you’ve read everything on your personal statement, and that you’re able to articulate opinions and arguments on it rather than just reeling off facts. In the week or so leading up to the interview, you might want to look at a critical text that comments on something you’ve written about. It’s a while since you’ve written your personal statement, and this will help keep your ideas fresh!
- Know your mannerisms – everyone has traits or habits that are individual to their characters. There is nothing wrong with this, but at interview they can become exaggerated by nerves. If you’re generally quiet, try speaking up more in class, or reading aloud, to get used to the sound of your own voice. If you think you run the risk of talking too much at interview, set yourself the challenge of describing a complex theory in two sentences, or to fit it on a post-it note. It’s tricky to get the balance right, but being aware of how you act in pressured situations will help counteract nervous behaviour.
The focus of the interview is your academic ability. Presentation is not a ‘make or break’ issue for interviewers – they will not turn away a good candidate simply because of poor body language or sloppy dress. Having said that, first impressions do count! And there are definitely some simple ways to help make a good one:
- Body language – this is really important for showing that you are engaged with what the interviewer is saying. One thing people can find tricky is maintaining a good level of eye contact. If you have a panel of interviewers, it can be hard to know who to look at, but try to avoid focusing on only one of them, as a different person may be asking the next question. You might find it helps to ask a friend or family member for some honest observations on your body language. They can tell you if there’s anything you need to work on, whether it’s slouching, folding your arms, or fiddling!
- Dressing appropriately – it’s not a job interview, and it’s not about how you look, but dressing in a manner which makes you feel prepared can be helpful. It’s important to wear something comfortable – don’t wear clothes that are smart at the expense of this. If you’re too cold, wearing uncomfortable new shoes or a tight collar, it will be harder to concentrate. You should also avoid wearing anything distracting, whether that’s a t-shirt with an offensive slogan on it, or some jewellery that you’ll fiddle with.
Remember there’s no such thing as a perfect interview but following this guide will ensure you feel comfortable, calm and confident on the day.