This is topic Tips for Interviews/ Nervousness? - - Now with Update! in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by aiua (Member # 7825) on :
This Sunday I'm going to interview for a scholarship trip to Germany. I missed the interview last year, so I have no idea what to expect.
My teacher has been telling me for at least a year that the interviews were conducted entirely in German. I only recently found out that both he and I had been misinformed and that they're actually in English.
That makes me feel better, but not much.
You see, I'm an incredibly nervous person and get embarrassed so easily it's not funny. At my last interview, I actually started crying.

I think I have a great chance of winning this trip but for the interview.
So, what I'm looking for are some tips:
-What sorts of questions should I expect?
-Is there anything to combat nerves before/after? I've been considering some sort of medicine, but I don't know what to look for or if that would be safe or even help at all.
-How can I calm myself down if I get really bad?
-I'm only a third year student, but should I go ahead and try to do it in German? Or, at least a couple parts? Just to show that I'm really enthusiastic about it? Or might that make it worse..?

It's been worrying me so much that I've become physically ill and can't sleep. Anything you have to say would help a lot.
Thanks. :]

[ March 28, 2006, 11:29 AM: Message edited by: aiua ]
Posted by Tante Shvester (Member # 8202) on :
There are "anti-stage fright pills"; you could ask your doctor about it (a prescription item, Beta blockers, I believe).

I never seem anxious during anxiety-inducing situations. My solution? Acting! No matter how nervous I am, I always pretend that I'm not. Sometimes I even pretend to be someone else. The first time that I had to get up in front of a class and teach, I was pretty scared. Then I remembered my favorite teacher from school, and I pretended that I was her, standing up there and giving the class. I actually did an impression of my favorite English teacher, and the performance lasted throughout the class.

Later, as I became more comfortable in the situation, I could (literally) be myself. But this technique has served me well for years.

Good luck! (or whatever they say in German)
Posted by Tinros (Member # 8328) on :
Combating nerves: THe suggestion my flute teacher gave me, modified for your situation:

Before you enter the room, stop and close your eyes. Now look into the room in your head. Take all of the bad things out of the room. THe nervousness, the downfalls you've had before, take them all out and make sure they stay out of the room. Now, put all of the good things in your life INTO the room. Remember the times you've had an incredible day, your family that loves you, a surprise visit from a close friend. Before you open your eyes and go into the room, make sure nothing bad is there, and everything good is. THen open your eyes, and with the confidence you know you have, step in the room.
Posted by Epictetus (Member # 6235) on :
In my experience doing scholarship interviews, expect him to ask some of the same questions you'd hear in a job interview: Why do you want to come here, what about us appeals to you ect. ect. You want to give the impression that you know exactly why you want to go there (and I assume you do, since you're going to Germany for it) and also that you've done your homework about the place. Just like you wouldn't go into a job interview saying "just give me whatever job you have open" you don't want to say something like "Oh, I'm just looking for a degree, whatever you can give me is good" You can go anywhere in the US to get a degree, so make it clear why you want to go to Germany and what sort of scholarship help you're looking for.

As far as nerves, I'd suggest meditation, deep breathing ect., that always helps me. Good luck, I hope you get this trip and the scholarship.
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
One trick I have for getting over nerves is to sing and play a favorite song right before the interview. Really get into the music (in the car or at home) and sing with all your heart. It seems to reconnect you to your natural unselfconscious self, and some of that holds over.

Another good way is to focus strongly on someone else. Imagine the interviewer is very nervous about meeting you (this could actually be true if they are not very experienced) and do your best to put them at ease.
Posted by aiua (Member # 7825) on :
Viel Glück, Tante, is what they say.

The bits about acting like you're not nervous are great ideas. I just have to figure out how to step away from myself now. [Big Grin]

Vielen Dank!

[ March 01, 2006, 10:26 PM: Message edited by: aiua ]
Posted by Amanecer (Member # 4068) on :
I don't have any advice, but I wish you luck in the interview!

Tante, that sounds like the best anti-anxiety advice I've ever heard. I'll try to keep it in mind the next time I'm feeling nervous. [Smile]
Posted by pH (Member # 1350) on :
I deal with interviews by pumping myself up beforehand and convincing myself that I absolutely RULE at whatever it is that I'm being interviewed for...and that I generally rule at life, besides.

Posted by Kristen (Member # 9200) on :
If you can find someone to ask questions that you expect (about your goals, past, why Germany etc.) and you can practice your responses and get constructive criticisms, then it might not be so nerve-wrecking during the interview.

Another option is contacting someone in the program for advice on how their interview went.

Also, be prepared for questions for them as they will most likely ask you if you have any.

Good luck! I'm sure you'll do great.
Posted by Kristen (Member # 9200) on :
Oh, and I wouldn't speak German unless they ask. Remember they are probably native speakers and can't help but instinctively judge your German against their's, even if they do admire your effort.
Posted by aiua (Member # 7825) on :
Thanks, Kristen.
I'll probably wimp out and not speak it anyway. [Big Grin]

Welcome, by the way!
Posted by Lissande (Member # 350) on :
On the other hand, in my school experience, native speakers were actually incredibly forgiving compared to American teachers who'd learned the language as foreigners. Foreigners (esp. as teachers) concentrate on grammar and speaking correctly, whereas native speakers think less of grammar and more of understanding. They are often so thrilled that you're speaking their language that they'll compliment almost anything you say - "Hey! I can kind of understand you! You're so good!" My out-of-school experience was definitely that native speakers are forgiving and encouraging.

Them: "You speak so well! You will be fluent in a few weeks!"
Me: "All I said was 'Hello'...?"

Though specifically for the interview, I'd still go with English unless your German is just really prodigiously impressive. Maybe you could think of something short to say at some point, though, like "I'm really looking forward to this trip!" or something. That would be cute. [Smile]
Posted by David G (Member # 8872) on :
Combating Nerves/Staying Calm: (1) Be as prepared as you can be. Do research and practice interviews, etc. (2) Enjoy the process and don't worry so much about the outcome. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Just do the best you can and have fun with it. And if you don't do well with this interview, you'll do better on the next one.
Posted by theresa51282 (Member # 8037) on :
I have taught interviewing in college and have seen many students who get worked up as well. I even had one student faint on me [Smile] . Here is my advice.

Write down the three things you are most afraid of happening. When you know what your fears are they are easier to combat. Then, determine what would cause those things to happen. For instance, if you are afraid of crying in the interview, think about what would make you cry. If it is being unprepared, list all the things you did to be prepared. If it is that the interview person is mean to you, consider all of the times that you did interviews and people weren't mean.

Next, find someone to practice the interview for you. It actually helps to role play both the part of the interviewee and the interviewer. If you play the interviewer you will probably discover that you just want the other person to succeed which should help reassure you.

Come prepared with questions to ask the interviewer. It will show that you are truly interested in the experience.

Write out answers to the questions you think they might ask. Be honest and forthcoming. When you have already thought of an answer ahead of time it should take off some of the nerves.

Don't be afraid of pauses. People often feel like they are taking forever to answer even when it is not very long at all. You are much better off taking a second to think about the question adn your answer than rambling and losing your train of thought. You will appear to the interviewer to be thoughtful and honest instead of overrehearsed and rash.

Dress for success. Put on clothing that is both appropriate for the situation and that makes you feel awesome. If you feel like you look good, you will exude more confidence. Researches shows that periwinkle and blue are the two current most favorably received colors for womens shirts currently. Also, for formal interviews it is recommend that jewelry be kept simple. Only one ring per hand unless it is a wedding ring and engagement ring set. Either a necklace or a bracelet and earrings that aren't dangling. Also avoid bright colored nail polish as it can be distracting for the interviewer.

Shake hands like you mean it. Fake being in control and confident even if you aren't. People will remember first impressions.

Visualize the interview in your head going wonderfully before you go in. It should give you a burst of confidence.

Remember to breathe. Seriously, I have students that will hyperventilate and students that forget to breathe. Neither of these make a good impression.

Don't give yourself things to fiddle with. Put the pen and anything else that you might have with you under the chair. Avoid wearing rings or bracelets if you will fiddle with them. Pull your hair up so you are not tempted to play with it. All of these habits make people appear nervous to the interviewer.

Smile. People want to hire happy people. No one wants to be stuck with a cranky person all the time. A smile will make you seem likeable.

Hope this helps. Remember that lots of other people have these struggles as well and still succeed. Ultimately, interviews are just one of many factors that people will look at. Don't put too much pressure on yourself.
Posted by Belle (Member # 2314) on :
theresa has some excellent suggestions. Definitely dress well, you can't help but feel more confident when you're dressed for success.

eye contact, eye contact, eye contact! Meet the interviewers eyes and connect with them as a person. Remember they are not machines, they're people too and making that connection will really help. they'll be impressed with your presence and they won't seem so scary to you because you're suddenly just two (or more) people talking.

When you're talking about yourself be honest, forthright and confident. Don't brag on yourself but neither should you put yourself down. You have good qualities, don't be afraid to talk about them. Don't apologize for who you are either.
Posted by theresa51282 (Member # 8037) on :
Ooooh, that is an important one Belle. One of the biggest interview mistakes is to apologize or to highlight negative things about yourself. Women especially have been found to engage in these behaviors. In fact, the textbook in my class list this as one of the reasons men score better on interviews then women on average.
Posted by Theaca (Member # 8325) on :
Try not to let your hands get too clammy/sweaty. They notice that when you shake hands. I always try to make sure my hands don't curl up before or during the interview because then they sweat more.
Posted by aiua (Member # 7825) on :
I'm leaving now.
Thanks for all the tips. Now let's see if I can remember them. [Big Grin]

Wish me luck!
Posted by Tatiana (Member # 6776) on :
<wishes aiua luck> Let us know how it goes!
Posted by theresa51282 (Member # 8037) on :
Good luck! I'll be interested to hear how it went.
Posted by Tante Shvester (Member # 8202) on :
Posted by aiua (Member # 7825) on :
I was nowhere near a bad as I had been thinking.
It ended up being my friend and I and one other boy. Woo, three people out of the thirty or so that were eligible! (My chances are looking very good.)
It was very informal. The man in charge of it couldn't make it and the three other interviewers really didn't have a clue what was going on. There was one really old and deaf hobbit, someone I call "The Fantasy Guy", and some high school teacher (The teacher of the boy I'd mentioned earlier.). It went really well. I smiled a whole lot and gestured and was really specific.
They asked me about my hobbies.. Ten minutes later, I'd convinced them all to try OSC, Ender's Game in particular, and "The Fantasy Guy" told me about an author he liked, Tad Williams, I think the name was.
The other questions were really basic things like "What do you think you'll get from this trip", "Have you been away from your family for an extended period before" and so on.
I came out smiling and ended it with handshakes and a joke (A good one, as I seem to recall, though I can't for the life of me figure out what I said.). Overall, it went very well and they seemed very impressed by my enthusiasm, especially for OSC. [Big Grin]
I think that both my friend and I have a great shot at this. Last year Wisconsin nominated three people and two won trips. (This is a national thing.)
We won't know the results for two, three weeks, so I'll be biting my nails until then.

Thanks for the luck and all the help, it definitely helped and I'm not as nervous for next time.
Posted by Tante Shvester (Member # 8202) on :
Hooray for aiua!
Posted by aiua (Member # 7825) on :
Thanks, Tante. ^-^
Posted by Amanecer (Member # 4068) on :
That's great aiua!! When do you find out if you got it?
Posted by aiua (Member # 7825) on :
Howdy, Hatrack!
Saturday the 18th we left for our Spring Break trip - skiing and snowboarding in Keystone, Colorado. We had a ton of fun, but the bit that pertains to this happened on the following Thursday morning. My dad's secretary called and, when I picked up, began reading me an email...
I'd won it!
Out of 26,000 students nation-wide...
My initial reaction was to walk into a chair, but my second one was, "My, I need to find a computer and say something on Hatrack." Thinking about the rest of it came later. [Big Grin]
We finally got home last night at about midnight and found a large envelope waiting by the door. The trip (all expenses paid!) is from June 20th till July 14th and I'll be in either Nuernberg or Koeln. They haven't given me any more information yet, but right now, even this is a bit too much to process.
Posted by Tante Shvester (Member # 8202) on :
Allow me to be the first to wish you Mazel Tov! That is great news. Please send us Hatrack Postcards from Germany.
Posted by ClaudiaTherese (Member # 923) on :
Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow!

I'm very impressed and terribly excited for you. [Smile]
Posted by Belle (Member # 2314) on :
Posted by aiua (Member # 7825) on :
Thanks, guys!

And, sure thing, Tante.

I'll be sending one to Hatrack in general (still trying to figure out how...), but- this goes to anyone and everyone- let me know if you want your very own postcard! I love sending postcards. [Big Grin]

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