10 Tips to stay focused in an interview

Interviews are hard, and that is an understatement. They go well if you go in confident and prepared, and then it seems like you nailed it. However, not many people actually experience that. Most of are a hot mess when going for an interview. You reach there all frazzled because that is the day the bus or train will be late, you run to make the interview on time, and are all sweaty by the time you reach. Then they make you wait and you have no idea what to do, so you distract yourself further by either being engrossed in your phone or by everything that is happening around you. Things just go downhill from there.

Believe it or not, focus is key to giving a good interview. Nobody would like to hire a person who seems distracted in an interview. It gives off an unprofessional appearance and indicates that you are someone who gets stressed easily and hence won’t be effective in taking stressful, on the fly decisions when required. Most hiring managers will prefer to hire somebody who manages to stay cool under pressure and is confident and focused, or at least appears to be.

In that regard, here are ten tips that will help you stay focused in an interview:

1. Breathe

Sometimes something as simple as just breathing can help center you and regain your focus, especially if you are frazzled. Before you even enter the office, stop and take some deep calming breaths. This will help you relax and regain your composure so that at least your frazzle-ness won’t show.

2. Think Positive Thoughts

Instead of thinking about how nervous you are, or how things will go wrong, thing positive thoughts. Think about why you are here, why you deserve this job, and how you are going to crush this interview. In you think it, you will believe it, and it will build your confidence up, rather than down.

3. Take in your surroundings

As you wait to be called in, instead of looking in your phone or staring at the wall or ceiling, absorb as much of the surroundings as you can. See how the people act and how the receptionist behaves, things like this might just tell you a lot about the company culture. But don’t get distracted from why you are really here, which is for an interview.

4. Sit up straight

Posture and body language is essential in an interview, even if you think no one is watching. From the waiting room till leaving the premises after the interview, your posture should be on point. Not only will this make you look strong and confident, but make you feel like it too. The Focus is sure to follow.

5. Be Present

Don’t think about the other thousand things that are going on in your life. Leave all your problems and other thoughts at the door as you enter. Be present at the interview, and worry only about that. Thinking about the other things will just distract you, and you do not want to come across as distracted. The other things will be waiting for you when you are done with the interview.

6. Put your phone on silent or Switch off your phone

Phones are one of the biggest distractions in life. We get so engrossed in them that we ignore everything that is happening about us. Trust us when we say that nothing is more distracting in an interview if you are constantly being distracted by the phone pinging or buzzing in your pocket. So put it on silent (not vibrate), or better yet switch it off for a few minutes.

7. Take your time

When the interviewer asks a question, most people feel like they have to answer straight away, and in attempting to do so, they often stumble and make mistakes. It’s okay to take a minute to absorb the question, frame your thoughts and formulate a reply. This may in fact even impress the interview as you will be seen as someone who doesn’t just rush into things without a thought.

8. Have a Conversation

Instead of having an interview, treat it as a conversation. This provides a more natural flow to the interview, and it doesn’t make you feel like you are on the spot. Instead the conversation is progressing normally. Plus this will also relieve some pressure from the interviewer who might often feel like it is their burden to ask the questions and conduct the interview. Here you can share that burden. This also helps build camaraderie and helps you stand out, which the interviewer will look upon fondly when thinking about which candidate to hire.

9. Stay Calm

If you feel like you made a mistake, or something is not going your way, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and center yourself. Nothing will be perfect, but if you panic then even the little things get blown out of proportion. So, stay calm, adjust accordingly, take a minute and delve back in. If you feel like you need a moment, drink some water, or ask the interviewer a question, this will give you a moment to gather yourself.

10. There are other jobs out there

If you think that the interview is not going well, you may try to overcompensate, but that just may have the opposite effect. Just remember that you did your best and that you’ll learn from your mistakes and be better at the next interview. If you think that this is the make it or break it moment, then you will end up putting too much pressure on yourself. Instead, remember that there are plenty of other jobs out there and perhaps you may just find a better one. After all, who knows what the future holds.


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