6 Effective Ways to Get Past Your Retail Interview Jitters


Experts believe retail jobs will grow by roughly 10 percent from 2012 to 2022. This growth means many people will apply for jobs in the retail industry. For many of those people, there's a big hurdle between filling out an application and starting jobs, because they have to overcome the interview jitters. Whether interviewing makes you a little nervous or you feel like you could have a panic attack, these six creative tips should help you ease your nerves and have a great interview experience.

Image via Flickr by Gangplank HQ

1. Practice Interviewing at Home

Interviewing is a skill like any other and the more you practice, the better you likely will get. The problem is that you probably won't interview for more than a couple dozen jobs during your life, so you have to get creative if you want to improve. Round up the people in your household and have them ask you questions. It will feel a little uncomfortable, but that's okay, because it means you're pushing your boundaries.

If you don't have any human helpers handy, you can practice interviewing online with people you trust to give honest feedback. If you don't have anyone to talk to online, then grab your pets or practice in a mirror. Any practice is better than no practice.

2. Listen to Your Speech

It's not entirely fair, but employers pay attention to the speech mannerisms of potential employees. The way you talk at home may not be the way you should talk at work. If it doesn't sound "professional," then you might need to make a few changes to how you articulate your thoughts.

That means you need to record yourself speaking. You can ramble on about the day, read from a book, or recite something from memory. When you're done, play the recording and pay attention to your words, your sentences, and your voice. You probably already know that the recording will sound off to you. That's because when you speak, the sounds you make travel to your inner ear through bone-conducted pathways that alter your perceptions. When you hear the recording, you hear a more realistic version of your voice.

That's what other people hear when you speak. Employers care about this because they want customers to hear someone who sounds professional and trustworthy. If it your recording doesn't sound good, consider making changes. That might mean practicing your elocution at home or even getting a coach to help you shape your words.

3. Plan Your Day

Always plan your day when you set up an interview; don't get too nervous about the details, though, because you can never predict what will happen during the course of the aforementioned interview. The interviewer could ask you just about any question, so this part of your day is out of your control.

  • However, you can plan the day to minimize other uncertainties a day or two before your interview.
  • Visit the business so you know where it is
  • Look at your parking options so you don't unintentionally run late
  • Make sure you have money for parking (if needed)
  • Clear your schedule so you don't have other pressing matters until after the interview

Some people feel more nervous when they don't have something occupying their time. If that sounds like you, try to fill up your schedule so you won't have time to think about the interview too much. A good night's sleep and plenty of time to prepare on the day of the interview should also help.

4. Learn About the Employer

Imagine interviewing for a mystery job and you don't know what skills the job requires. You don't even know the industry in which this company works. Now, imagine the opposite. If you study, you'll know a lot about the company's history, its competitors, and the job's skill requirements. Wouldn't you feel much more confident in that second scenario?

Research the hiring company so you know as much about it as possible. Know its history and its top products. Once you figure these out you'll know how your skills with fit into the company's goals. The more you know about the interviewers, the easier it is to sell yourself to them. That should offer some comfort when your palms start to sweat.

5. Act Confident

Some research suggests that standing in certain poses can affect how people feel about themselves. You could make yourself more confident simply by standing in a pose that expresses confidence. Try stretching your arms over your head like you just crossed the finish line in a marathon. It should make you feel proud.

If you stand with your legs wide and put your hands on your hips (so you look like Superman or Wonder Woman), you could make yourself feel stronger and more authoritative. If this hypothesis is right, standing in a posture before your interview should make you feel and act more confident, which should lower your anxiety and make you more attractive to the interviewer. Just don't overdo it and come off as being aggressive or overly dominant. 

6. Remember: You're Interviewing Each Other

Many applicants have a defeatist attitude when they are interviewed. They feel jittery because they feel subservient to the interviewer. This is precisely the wrong attitude to take, because you're surrendering all potential leverage you have in the conversation to the interviewer.

If you get anxious because you feel that the person has more authority than you, remember that the interview is a two-way street. The business and its managers are interviewing you to decide whether you match the company's needs. Conversely, you interview the business and its representatives to decide whether you want to give 40 hours or more of your week.

Yes, sometimes you take a job just because you need the money. As your career progresses, you'll hopefully find more opportunities that let you move into different areas of retail. When you reach that point, you need to start thinking of every interview as a conversation between two people. No one has more power than the other.

Make a list of the things that you want to know about the job and the company. Some of those things might include:

  • whether they pay for health insurance
  • what types of retirement plans they offer
  • how many days of vacation you'll get
  • whether you get bonuses for meeting (and exceeding) sales goals

It's normal to feel a little nervous when you go to an interview. But if you take a look at the fundamentals and spend a little time preparing, then you're very likely to impress a potential employer with your confidence and poise. What strategies do you use to calm your nerves?

Contributed to jobs.net by Kim Evans

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