Get hired: Top tips for staying cool


We know that applying for a new job can be daunting. Whether this application marks the first step in your career, or just the latest in a long line of roles, you’re likely to have your misgivings. Nerves are normal and the best thing you can do is be prepared.

Your worst enemy when it comes to interviews is panic. We understand that a new career marks a momentous change in your life. Graduates are coming fresh from university, unsure of what to expect from the workplace, while experienced candidates have likely spent years in an organisation, making friends along the way, and are not sure whether this new environment will suit them as well.

At Ocado we really enjoy what we do and everyone that works here benefits from healthy and happy work environment that offers plenty of opportunity for you to grow, explore your abilities and truly succeed. If you are as passionate about technology as we are, we are certain you will enjoy it too, so we have put together some top tips to stay calm and help increase your odds.

Daniel (third from left) and team

Daniel (third from left) and team

Bring a jumper
Nerves can make you feel cold and tired or hot and flustered; layered clothing can help you cope in either scenario. Little things like this can sound trivial, but when you’re in situation you may find stressful, you need to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.

Relieve the stress of interviewing with a more tangible life change:
This is maybe a little bit niche, but I absolutely aced my driving test by promising myself I would pluck up the courage to ask my childhood sweetheart out on a date if I passed.

I can assure you that the only worry the night before my driving test wasn’t whether I could drive or not, but rather what I would have to do if I did pass.

Did they say yes? No, but I did pass my driving test and I resolved an important life issue that I’d been worried about for a while, so the result wasn’t bad.

Are you thinking of moving home? Buying a new car? Or maybe you’ve dreamed of traveling to some exotic location, but you keep putting off actually planning it.

Why not make it part of your thinking that if you’ve built up the courage to succeed in securing this job, you can take the step to make these exciting things happen too. I’m not suggesting this will work for everyone, but it certainly works for me!

Identify and quantify what happens if you don’t succeed:
For many, anxiety and stress come about when your mind revolves around an issue repeatedly, without being able to resolve it. You go over the same problems, the same arguments and the same inability to come to a firm conclusion over and over again.

It can be really productive to write down or vocalise your worries and concerns leading up to an interview, and the worst outcome you can imagine for each of them. Nine times out of ten, it’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be once you’ve followed it through logically. If you write it down and materialise your concerns, then the theory is that your mind won’t need to keep looping around the issue.

Identify what it is that scares you about the interviewing process: 
“What if they think I’m not qualified enough?”

Quantify how much of an impact that will have on your life: 
“They might see me at a conference in 10 years time and not come and chat to me in the lunch queue”

This will help you keep everything in perspective during your interview, and make it easier to focus on the here and now.

Know what you are walking into:
Fear and anxiety often emerge from not knowing what the assessment process will be like. Through this blog series we intend to give an insight into each stage of the process for all core technology roles. Reading through the series will hopefully help you feel more prepared.

Why not get your friends or family to quiz you on key questions?

Know your own signs of nerves and the coping strategies that work for you:
Recognising when you’re nervous and having a game-plan for managing the feelings and false perceptions that come with them is key.

If it helps you to know that a loved one will be only a phone call away after the interview, why not position your phone somewhere visible during the interview to remind you.

If you know that coming in wearing a snazzy suit will help (we aren’t the most formal of offices, but a snazzy suit is definitely a cool thing!), then go for it.

If it helps to get to know your fellow interviewees, so you feel a sense of camaraderie, consider asking them about their interests outside of work before the interview starts properly.

Things that definitely don’t work:
If you're a smoker, consider whether chain smoking before the interview is really going to help. It is likely to make it harder for you to breathe, which could in turn add to the stress you may be experiencing. Try chewing gum instead as an aid to relaxation or maybe distracting yourself with something unrelated that will let your mind wander; a sudoku puzzle perhaps?

If you’re feeling particularly nervous, consider letting your recruiter know as they will likely be able to make you feel more comfortable and provide you with an opportunity to talk through your concerns.

Most importantly (and I know it’s easier said than done), try not to get flustered: not because of how it will come across to the people sitting on the other side of the interview table, but because it won’t allow you to shine and let everyone get to know you as easily. As companies go, we’re pretty laid back at Ocado Technology, so there is no need to put up a front; just be yourself and relax.

Daniel Stoner, Senior Software Engineer

george smith