Job interviews are almost always daunting. Most of us often feel unusually nervous and unsure of how well the interview will go. It doesn't help that interviewers often pay extreme attention to their candidates. However, as an HR recruitment agency, we believe that as long as you've prepped and done the research needed for the interview, there shouldn't be any margin for error. In this article, we will be sharing five common expressions that exude nervousness, along with the tips needed to combat this.
Preparation: The Key to Successful Job Interviews in Malaysia
Being nervous might be inevitable during your job interviews. But you can make the situation appear less daunting by coming into the interview room prepared. If this is your first interview, we recommend checking out our article, "Let's Walk Through Your First Interview Round". As preparation is key to the success of a job interview, we've compiled a list below for you to cross-check!
The Malaysia Job Interview Check List:
Your Resume: If you have a face-to-face interview scheduled, you might want to bring extra copies of your resume to reference during the interview.
Your Personal Identification Cards and Documents: Other than your personal Identification Card, there are also other formal documents that you might be required to bring. Do check with the organization before the job interview.
Your Portfolio: You might have sent your portfolio via email before the job interview. However, having a copy on hand during the interview is always good should you need a reference.
However, thanks to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, most job interviews are now conducted with the help of teleconferencing.
5 Common Expressions That Show Nervousness
1. Excessive blinking
Did you know that the average number of blinks for a normal, healthy, relaxed human is 6-8 blinks per minute? When you are nervous, you tend to blink more and faster in a minute. There is a scientific reason behind it. When you are under stress, you tend to be more sensitive toward light and eye strain.
Another reason is, when we blink, our brain is processing the things that we see with our eyes and registering them in our memory. When we are under stress, we are caught in a fight/flight situation and we need to process more things at a faster speed.
However, if you get too conscious and forget to blink, or blink too little, that is also an issue. Low blink rates and lack of blinking are associated with inattentiveness, though on the flip side it might also mean that you are very attentive. So we really got to juggle that well.
“Frozen like a deer in the headlight”, is a phrase that is commonly heard of or read in fictional books. But, unfortunately, it happens to most of us when we are faced with difficult situations.
This freezing reaction is usually triggered by a conditioned psychological fear, which means you associate the interview with negative experiences. This is very similar to when we were still studying, we tend to feel nervous during exams because we are unsure of what the questions would be and how well we would do.
In this interview situation, when we are prompted with a question that we have difficulties answering, we tend to stiffen our body or appear fixed on a spot, while our brain figures out the answers. Our facial expressions may also freeze and seem as though as we are zoning out.
3. Excessive touching
Oftentimes we yearn for physical comfort when we are stressed, unhappy, or nervous. These physical comforts are subconscious pacifying behaviors. We do them because they release calming endorphins that soothe the brain. This ultimate reminds us of a time when our mothers used to calm us when we were still a child.
Some of the common self-soothing actions are:
Crossing of arms
Touching of one’s neck
Playing with our hair
Rubbing their hands against their shoulders
Another reason why we're touchier is that we need to relieve ourselves from stress and anxiety. Physical touch releases dopamine and serotonin. These two neurotransmitters help to regulate our mood, thus relieving negative feelings such as stress. Dopamine, in particular, is known to regulate the pleasure center in our brain which can counter feelings of anxiety.
4. Looking down
Another subconscious action that we make when we are nervous is to look down or look elsewhere in general. A lot of times we hear from our parents and teachers to look at someone in their eye when they are talking to us to show them respect because our eyes reflect sincerity when communicating with another person. When we look down during a conversation, it shows that we are anxious or that we have something to hide. This is often the result of the fear of being judged when we make direct eye contact with another.
This does not only apply to when we are speaking, it applies to when we are listening as well. When we don’t make eye contact with the speaker, it shows that we are not paying attention to what they are saying.
Another self-soothing behavior is fidgeting. Fidgeting is repetitive and unnecessary movements, and they are usually associated with not paying attention and restlessness.
Some examples of fidgeting are:
Clicking of pen
Playing with your hands or hair
Changing your sitting position
Spinning your ring around your finger
The reason why most of us fidget when we are nervous is because of the rise of the stress hormones in our bodies. Our body has recognized the threat, which in this case, the interview that causes us to feel uncomfortable and anxious. To protect the body, accompanied with the elevated level of stress hormones, our minds are preparing us for any sudden exertion, contrary to freezing.
However, there is no actual physical threat that is charging towards us, all the energy built up for sudden exertions has nowhere to go, so it is converted to tiny repetitive movements, such as jiggling our leg.
3 Tips to Looking Confident During Interviews
Often, when we are nervous, we tend to hyperventilate, or worse we tend to hold our breath. One of the ways we can combat nervousness is to regulate our breathing and to breathe deeply.
When the interviewer prompts us with a question, it is normal to stop and think about the question. It shows that you are putting thought into answering it, instead of just providing an answer that is on the top of your head and just throwing it out.
Take the time to breathe and calm yourself down while you’re thinking of the answer. By breathing, you will relax your facial muscles and not look like you are frozen in time, and at the same time, it will regulate your blinking.
B. Minimize the frequency of self-soothing
It is normal that you still seek to soothe yourself when you are nervous, and you can still do that. You can aim to do it periodically or to do it under the table so that the interviewers can’t tell that you are internally freaking out.
Now that most of the interviews are conducted online to minimize contact because of COVID-19, self-soothing actions can be done, as long as it is under the table or below the shoulder.
Examples of subtle self-soothing actions are:
Massaging your fingers
Stroking your forearm
Patting your thigh softly
C. Prepare yourself
This trick is to psycho and prepares yourself to make sure that you are mentally prepared to deal with the questions during the interview.
During this mock interview, there are a couple of things you can take note of:
Should there be questions that you are unable to answer confidently, research more and practice them
Practice looking into the camera for virtual interviews, or making eye contact for physical interviews
Sit up straight and confidently, and smile whenever necessary
Still on the lookout for your next job? Check out our other blogs, Expectation: Job Hunting in Malaysia as a Millennial. Happy searching!