I don’t know about anyone else, but job interviews instill a whole new level of nerves in me. You’ve been applying to jobs and internships in hopes that someone will give you a chance. Once you get that one special email or phone call of interest, you become incredibly excited, but that excitement quickly dies down within a millisecond as the reality sets in. “I have an interview! How will I present myself? What questions are they gonna ask me? What did I even do in my past positions? Did I really graduate college?” Somehow all of these questions are doing laps in your mind and it seems overwhelming to say the least. “How do I even begin to prepare for this?” I wish I had some guidance on exactly how I should conduct myself and calm down my extreme nervousness for interviews when I first dived into the world of internships and jobs. They say experience is the best teacher, but let’s be honest; a helping hand along the way doesn’t hurt either!
I am in no way saying that I’m an interview ultimate-mastermind or anything. I just thought I should write out what works best for me when it comes to interview nerves and how to tap in to your inner confidence to help you get through it. For starters, when you get that email or phone call from a company that’s interested in you, be proud of yourself. Know that something about your resume stood out to the employer, and that’s already a step in the right direction. If you’re like me and feel a rush of emotions when an employer contacts you, make sure you feel your emotions, but don’t let them completely overtake you. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings, not suppress them, but we have to practice a balance and know the difference between when you’re just being human versus when you start becoming irrational and unjust even against yourself.
My second and most crucial rule of thumb when it comes to conquering nerves for an interview is preparation. You have to not only know what your resume says, but really hone in on the details of each position you’ve had. What works best for me is literally writing out what my past experiences were. Write out your experiences in detail. What were some major projects you worked on? What were your day-to-day tasks? What were your favorite parts about it? What skills did you sharpen and what did you learn? Also look into the position you were contacted for and try to match up some skills that are desired for it with your past positions. When you’re writing this out, literally write it out as if it was a script and you’re the actor that’s going to be reading the lines out loud. Memorize what you write. Doing this is so important because, 10/10 chances are you will be asked to explain and expand on your experiences listed on your resume and you should deliver it with accuracy and confidence. I really can’t stress enough how significant it is to really know your past positions like the back of your hand. If you’re able to efficiently speak on your experience without any gaps, you really will feel those nerves just disappear when you’re sitting in that interview. Knowing everything about everything when it comes to your background will really make you feel in control during the interview and will inevitably boost your confidence to new heights especially when answering any question that’s thrown your way. There’s nothing to worry about if you know what you’re talking about. Adequate preparation is the ultimate key in releasing interview nerves.
After you have your information about your experience and skills down like no other, research the company that you’re going to be interviewing with. More likely than not, you will be asked questions regarding your familiarity of the business and why you chose them over anyone else. Personally, I like to think this is the ‘fun’ part of prepping for an interview. Learn about their services or products. What seems to be their overarching goals and aim? Have they won any type of award? How do they rank on the “Great Place to Work” scale? Who is their audience/consumer? One of the best things you can do is find something in that company that resonates with you. That way you can use it to your advantage and truly speak on it, as they are in-line with your own personal values and beliefs. Try to have fun with this part and explore any information you come across. Make sure you really know the basic ins and outs of the company as well as some more intricate details as well – this will show the employer that you really did your research and are interested in the company.
Once you have your experience and information about the company down on lock, you have to make sure you have some questions prepared for the interviewer. Remember, an interview is a two-way street. Yes, they might be interviewing you for a position, but you also need to have a few questions for them as well. At the end of every interview they will ask, “So, do you have any questions for me?” Do not take this lightly, and make sure you always, always, ALWAYS have a question (ideally two) prepared for the employer. Any inquiries about the position are appropriate. Questions like, “What skills would your ideal candidate have to succeed in this role?” or “Can you tell me a little bit more about the daily tasks of this position?” are perfect for this chunk of the interview. You can also ask fun questions like, “What’s your favorite part about working with this company?” Really show that you do have questions and aren’t afraid to ask them.
So, you kind of get the point now. Preparation is literally your best friend when it comes to interviews. There is no guarantee that even if you do feel confident with your preparation, your nerves will automatically go away. Good preparation will for sure help alleviate the nerves, but everyone is different. There are moments I find myself being adequately prepped, but still feeling like my stomach is trying to win an Olympic gold medal with all of the flips it’s doing. Everyone is different when it comes to handling their nerves. For me, I don’t feel comfortable or prepped enough until I make sure that along with all of my memorization, research, and practice, I also include dua (prayer) and reliance and remembrance of Allah (SWT). I can make a whole other post about how this dunya (worldly life) is fleeting and how we should refocus on the deen (religion/Islam), but for any struggle, we must always remember Allah (SWT) and continually ask for his guidance and comfort. If you’re feeling intensely nervous before your interview, say this special dua that’s made to ease the knot you feel within yourself due to nerves:
Oh lord, expand my chest, ease my affair, and untie the knot in my tongue and perfect my expression.
Rabbi IshraHlee Sadree, wa yassirlee amree, waHlul Uqdatan min lisaanee, yafqahuu qawlee.
Remember that Allah (SWT) is with you. Try your best to remain neutral during the whole job-hunting process, and understand that if Allah (SWT) has written something for you, then there is nothing that can stand in the way of you getting it. Also know that if you’re feeling discouraged about not getting that “dream job” you thought you had in the bag, try not to sweat it so much. There is a greater reason beyond our human understanding as to why Allah (SWT) did not grant you it. Have faith and trust in Allah (SWT) and you will see things follow through, Insha’Allah.
At the end of the day, remember that you are human and emotions, such as nervousness, are natural. Try your absolute best to prepare yourself well, and be open to making mistakes and learning from them. Don’t allow a single experience or even an emotion overcome you or your ability to conquer your fears and be confident.
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