Avoid Nervous Laughter

A reader writes…

When I get nervous…  I tend to laugh a LOT. I’m so afraid I’m going to lose it in the middle of an interview. Any suggestions?

Dear, “Sir Laughs-A-Lot,”

I’m glad to see you’re such a happy person, but seriously… do you honestly think you’ll fall out of your chair cracking up in the middle of an interview – all on account of nerves?  A nervous giggle every now and then is one thing, but getting hysterical is another.

Now, unless you’re applying to be an audience stand-in at a comedy show, I suggest you get this habit under control.  Do plenty of preparation in advance to help gain confidence and composure.  Here are a few key reminders to get you  ready:

  1. Research the company.  Check their website, study their products and/or services, look them up on LinkedIn, check for company blogs, Google articles, etc.
  2. Research the specific position – KNOW what you’re applying for and be ready to answer questions pertaining to the role. You are guaranteed to be out of the running if you don’t appear to know what position you’ve applied for.
  3. Dress your best.  The better you look, the better you feel…  and the less likely you’ll get the urge to fidget (which, in turn, may result in a few chuckles!)
  4. Rehearse typical interview questions with a friend or family member.  You can find several online (here are a few sample questions  to get you started):
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you apply to this position?
  • What are your short-term goals? Long-term goals?
  • What motivates you?
  • Why are you changing fields?
  • How do you define success?
  • How well do you work under pressure?
  • What is your greatest strength? Greatest weakness?
  • What are your most important accomplishments thus far in your career?
  • What could you have done better in your last/present job?
  • What do you know about our company and our industry?
  • In what way do you feel you can make the biggest contribution to this firm?
  • What suggestions have you offered former employers that were actually adopted?
  • What did you like best about your last/present job?
  • Give a specific example of your:
    • Creativity
    • Adaptability
    • Analytical skills
    • Innovative abilities
    • Leadership skills
  • What direct supervisory experience have you had?
  • How do you interact with subordinates?
  • How did you get along with your last boss?
  • How would you describe the “ideal” boss?
  • How do you motivate people?

None of these questions seem like “knee-slappers” to me.
I think you’ll do fine and wish you the best of luck!

Anita

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. allenvail
    Aug 23, 2011 @ 11:22:42

    I think that mentally preparing for an inetrview may help lower the nervousness!
    Not all things are funny and sometimes restating the question can give you time to come up with an answer rather then…. laughing. It’s been my experience that when I just laugh during inetrviews (barring that a joke or something funny was said and it was appropriate to laugh) I am saying io myself I can’t think so I won’t give myself a chance or time to think. I think it takes time and practice to overcome….. Everyone, is nervous at interviews! ! !

    Reply

  2. Amber
    Aug 23, 2011 @ 10:03:02

    With all due respect, Anita, I don’t know that your advice would necessarily help anyone who has a case of the nervous giggles. “Avoid nervous laughter?” Really? I’m sure that he doesn’t need anyone to tell him that it’s a bad idea – or even if he does, not too many other people would. Researching the company and preparing for the interview is a good idea, and it will certainly reduce nervousness, but anybody who’s in a position where making a really good impression is vital is going to be nervous, no matter *how* prepared they are.

    A suggestion I might make to the nervous laugher, in addition to preparation, is to look into meditation or relaxation. There are many breathing techniques that can trigger a sense of calm, which might be the very thing you need to keep from giggling at an inopportune moment.

    Reply

    • anitaclew
      Aug 25, 2011 @ 14:40:10

      Thanks for your comment (and honesty), Amber. I love your suggestion about looking into meditation, relaxation, and breathing techniques. Very good and so true!

      Reply

  3. Artina Graves
    Aug 23, 2011 @ 08:15:40

    We all have this nervous laughter. I used to rock back and forth. So in case people thought I was crazy I paid attention. Every I started to rock I stopped myself. Thats what you have to do until you have it under control.

    Reply

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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