I don't believe I've ever met anyone who has attended a job interview without at least some degree of trepidation.
Confronted by tough questions and feeling like your every word is being judged is challenging for even the most seasoned candidates.
But if it's your first time in the hot seat it can be even more intimidating.
Unfortunately interviews are simply a fact of work life and you're unlikely to progress your career without them.
It's natural to be nervous - the secret is not letting the nerves get to you.
There are steps you can take to mitigate the stress, before and during the interview, to help you shine.
Here are some of my top tips:
Do your homework
As every good Boy Scout knows, the motto 'Be Prepared' is essential for every eventuality and no more so than for a job interview.
Information is power, so research the company - visit their website, get hold of brochures and find out exactly what they do.
If you can, find out who will be conducting the interview so you're not expecting a quick chat with someone from HR but are faced by a panel of senior managers.
Make sure you read the job and candidate specifications carefully so you are prepared to explain why you fit the bill.
Most interviews will include standard questions such as 'How would you describe yourself?' and 'What are your weaknesses?' Work on a short response to these - and others - so you can reply effortlessly.
Plan your route in advance - particularly if you are driving or using public transport - and allow plenty of extra time. Arriving late is not an option. If you are travelling a distance factor in a stop-off for time to prepare with a coffee and read-through of your CV and job description.
First impressions count
Aim to dress to impress and prepare your interview outfit the night before...don't forget to shine your shoes. Not only will being well groomed boost your confidence it projects a professional image.
During the interview
Take a few deep breaths and try to relax. Yes, it's easier said than done, but if you can keep calm you will find it easier to gather your thoughts and present yourself in the best light.
Greet your interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake.
Look interested and be aware of your body language - don't cross your arms, fidget, or lean forward anxiously.
Don't worry if you need to pause and think before responding to a question. A well-considered answer is often better than a quick-fire one.
Nerves cause people to speak too quickly. Try to slow yourself down if you find you're waffling.
Remember talking about yourself is not bragging, it's providing your potential employer with information they need to assess your suitability for the role.
An interview is a two-way process, so be prepared to ask questions as well as answer them.
End the interview with a good final impression - smile, thank the interviewer for their time, tell them you enjoyed discussing the position and that you look forward to hearing from them soon.
With any luck you will have wowed the interviewer and secure the job of your dreams.
But if you are unsuccessful, don't despair. Look at the experience as a good opportunity to practice your interview technique, grow your network and get better for next time