How to look like you’re a not screaming internally during an interview

I’m not a naturally confident person. Or an any kind of confident person. But somehow I managed to do okay at interview. My stressiness was kind of a blessing as it turned out because all the questions were seared into my brain (which gives me something to write about) but it was something I definitely needed to keep in check when I was trying to convince vet schools I wasn’t a psychopath. Here’s how I managed it:

Slow it down

When I’m running mock interviews with clients, the one thing that everyone seems to do is talk at a million words per second. I get it. I used to do it quite a bit when I was presenting until I heard a recording of myself and realised you could barely understand a word I was saying. The best way to combat this issue is to practice. Get your parents to ask you some random questions or just practice in the mirror (just maybe make sure no one walks in on you or you’ll look insane). Also it sounds massively patronising but take a breath before you answer questions. Don’t just fill the space with rapid-fire nonsense. 

Stop playing with yourself

I mean interpret this how you will. I used to always wear a hair band around my wrist incase I needed to tie my hair back and the second I got nervous I’d start pinging it against my wrist. Of course I didn’t even register that I was doing it until someone pointed out to me. It’s a pretty easy fix though – I don’t wear anything around my wrists now so I have nothing to play with. Naturally if you play with your hair don’t shave it all off but maybe tie it back? Remove the distraction. 

One tip I got for my vivas once I was at vet school was that (if you notice them moving a lot) to clasp your hands together and rest them on the table in front of you, leaning in a little bit to look like you’re engaging with the conversation. This occupies your hands and makes you look a bit more confident (or at least so I have been told). 

Gesticulate with caution

I’m the worst for this. Whenever I go off about something under pressure I look like I’m about to break into some kind of interpretive dance. This one’s pretty easy to control though – as soon as you realise you’re doing it, stop. Clasp your hands together as per my previous suggestion or just rest them in your lap. Again, people do weird sh*t when they’re nervous, you just have to figure out what it is that you do.  

Reset after each question

This works for panel interviews or for MMIs. Sh*t happens, things go wrong, sometimes you say the wrong thing. Whether or not that ruins the rest of the interview is up to you. I know it’s difficult not to obsess over the details especially if something has gone a tad awry but try on focus on each moment as it comes. Everyone has knowledge gaps and your interviewers aren’t expecting you to be vets yet! Just take a breath and move on with your life.