Everyone knows that attending a job interview is a nerve-racking experience – and it doesn’t get easier with age!

The reason for the anxiety is that you are being put under a microscope. You are being scrutinised, and, more often than not, by several people, not just one.

Going before a panel increases the anxiety ten-fold. You’ll probably be worrying and asking yourself: do I look okay; will I be able to answer their question; what if I’m so nervous that I can’t even remember my own name?

But job interviews don’t need to be terrifying. With some understanding of the process and some preparation, you can reduce your nerves and put yourself in the best position to shine.

Firstly, relax! Easy to say I know, but bear in mind that you wouldn’t have got this far unless your qualifications and/or previous experience hadn’t already spoken for themselves. Therefore, you should accept that you are there on merit just like everyone else who is being interviewed.

Secondly, it’s now down to whether your face ‘fits’ what they need and want. This may be something that is completely out of your control since you don’t have a clue what they are looking for beyond what has already got you this far.

Thirdly, because you can’t predict what they want, you need to be yourself and show off your personality and character.

It’s a bit like being an actor and going for an audition. You may be an excellent actor, and you may have rehearsed your lines and perform a brilliant audition, but if your stature is wrong, or you are not the right age for the part, you will be turned down. That is down to the director and what she/he is looking for. You have no control over that decision. So, as a jobbing actor, you then go to the next audition. It’s the same for a paralegal looking for employment – if you are turned down, head for the next job interview.

Also, remember being turned down for an interview (or an audition, for that matter) should not be taken personally. As human beings we tend to get emotional about the rejection as it is perceived to be something wrong about ourselves, however, in the case of job interviews, that simply isn’t the case; it’s not personal.

In my time as an employer, I have interviewed many applicants. Let me tell you about four experiences I’ve had. These were applicants going for a paralegal administrator’s role. We were looking for someone with legal training.

Needless to say, that the first three applicants failed in their ‘effort’ to gain employment. The first was inappropriate in every way. The second was ineffectual, and the third was downright arrogant. The fourth was not what we thought we were looking for but was so open and eager to learn, and had done her preparatory work, that we changed our minds. She remains in our employ after five years and has become a senior member of staff.

So what is learnt from these examples?

Firstly: always dress for the part. I know this sounds old fashioned, but first impressions are important. Secondly: always do your research on the prospective employer and arm yourself with at least one question that indicates that you have done your homework. Thirdly: there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and you need to be aware of the distinction. Fourthly, be respectful, courteous and attentive.

And now for the tips:

By preparing properly and following the tips above, you will put yourself in the best position to get the job. But remember, you are not right for every job and every job is not right for you. So, if this isn’t the one – move on to the next.