Travel and hospitality recruitment tips: How to manage interview nerves

Working in travel and hospitality recruitment, I get to talk to candidates every day. As part of the recruitment process, I always prep candidates before an interview. Occasionally, I come across a brilliant candidate, but when we’re chatting on the phone about an interview, I can really hear their nerves. For some, nerves are so bad that they struggle to get their words out at all. Over the years, I’ve helped several candidates overcome nerves before an interview to go on and secure a good position. Read on for my advice.

How to combat interview nerves – top 10 travel and hospitality recruitment tips:

1 Be prepared

This obviously applies to all candidates, but failing to prepare is preparing to fail in my book. For a nervous candidate, I’d advise doubling down on the prep. There’s nothing more nerve racking than being unprepared. Read up on the company, ask your travel and hospitality recruitment expert as many questions as pop into your head about the company and the role. Make notes and have them to hand before the interview. I always ask candidates in advance what they have done to prep, and ensure they have competency answers based on the job description and their experience. For a nervous candidate I’ll offer extra support to boost their morale and confidence.

2 Eat and drink

Make sure you have eaten and drunk sensibly before the interview, and take water with you. If your stomach grumbles or your mouth goes dry that will make nerves so much worse. Also, your brain functions better when it’s fed and hydrated.

3 Deep breaths

If you’re sitting in the interview chair, or even on a Skype or phone interview, take time to breathe. Sounds obvious, but a few deep calm breaths can really settle nerves. Don’t rush into answers or speak too fast. If you’re nervous, always practise having an interview with a friend or family member first – this can give you valuable insight into how you come across. Think, breathe, speak slowly.

4 Use notes

A hiring manager will be much less concerned if you have a couple of points jotted down, than if you have nothing to say or ask. Having a few keyword notes will help your brain focus on the job in hand and stop potential freezing. Don’t go in with a huge A4 pad though. A small sheet with a few prompts is best, otherwise you’ll appear chaotic.

5 Have faith

I’m not going to put forward a candidate who isn’t suitable for the job – so, if you’re the candidate, remember that. I always tell candidates that they’ve done well to get this far, because they have! More often than not, I’ve approached a candidate for the role myself, so I will definitely have faith in them. If it’s a first stage they were selected so far based on their skills so well done, if it’s a final stage I remind them that they have already done so well despite being nervous, we need to nail this now. I offer a bit of a pep talk to candidates going into interview. Try and do this for yourself, too – remember you’ve done well to get this far.

6 Don’t worry

‘Don’t worry’ may sound glib to someone who suffers with nerves, but remember interviewers are used to candidates being nervous. It’s natural to be nervous, and shows you care about the outcome – don’t worry about your nerves. In most cases, I find it’s candidates who haven’t had many interviews who are the most nervous. I can easily explain this to a client.

7 Don’t forget to smile

Simple but effective. Smile at the interviewer when you go in, and offer a firm handshake. Remember you can do this – fake it if necessary. Sometimes just acting the part can help combat nerves.

8 Harness your nerves

Some psychologists suggest that harnessing nerves and using the adrenaline generated can be useful for events like public speaking or an interview. So, practise trying to harness any nerves into positive energy – you’re in charge. If you feel pumped up rather than trying and failing to calm yourself down, use that as a positive. Everyone likes positive energy so try and focus on positive thoughts. Arrive early, go to the bathroom, and have a wipe or tissue handy to sort out clammy hands before you go in.

9 Use LinkedIn wisely

This is good for all candidates, but extra important for nervous candidates. It’s a good idea to create a portfolio of evidence on LinkedIn to support your achievements. This includes gathering recommendations, which are really the new references, and will be checked out by potential recruiters. For travel and hospitality recruitment, these references are always a plus and for nervous candidates, having plenty of background support is extra important.

10 Use a specialist recruitment agency

Obviously, I’m going to say this because I’m a specialist travel and hospitality recruiter, but I can’t stress how much better off you are going through a travel and hospitality recruitment agency than going it alone. We’re experts, we know the companies we’re hiring for, and we can offer exclusive advice – not to mention exclusive travel jobs. This expertise helps to reassure candidates, and particularly nervous candidates, by letting them know they’ve done all they can to secure the right next position for them.

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