Nerves and the Job Interview

When it comes to the interviewing process, the biggest problem for most people is nerves. While a little bit of anxiety can actually enhance performance (it helps us to focus and gives us a little shot of energy), too much can have a negative impact. If you’re overly nervous in an interview setting, your reaction time will be slower, you’ll be less responsive to cues, and you’ll be much more likely to make mistakes.

Remember this: stress is all about perception. It’s how we think about a situation that causes stress rather than the situation itself. If you perceive that you have the ability and resources to cope and perform well, then you’ll be able to reduce your stress level. We have many more Job Interview Articles Now Available.

You may be thinking that’s easier said than done! However, there are effective methods to manage your nerves. In fact, interview-related stage fright is in many ways similar to the kind of anxiety many athletes, actors and musicians feel prior to competition, auditions, or performances. You might find it interesting to see that much of the stress management advice specifically targeted to athletes and performers translates very effectively to the person preparing for a job interview!

For example:

• Don’t skip breakfast or lunch
• Practice until you feel perfect
• Remind yourself that it’s not the performance itself that you fear; rather, it’s making a mistake during the performance that is inducing the stress
• Visualize success
• Breathe deeply
• Preparation and repetition removes doubt about technical aspects
• Practice exposing yourself to performance-like stress
• Think positive (the difference between “I know I can do it” and “I can’t screw this up”)
• Focus on the task at hand, not the outcome (“I’m going to make this shot” rather than “I hope I don’t miss this shot”)
• Stay in the present (focus on the shot you’re making right now versus the last one or the next one)

The parallels are obvious. First and foremost, you must prepare, and prepare thoroughly! Over and over again, candidates make the mistake of walking into interviews trying to wing it. It’s not a surprise when they don’t get called back for a second interview.

Practice. Know how you’re going to respond to the common interview questions. Don’t just know how you’re going to respond, know that you can respond succinctly and articulately. (That means you need to practice your responses out loud.)

Know why you want the job. Know everything you can about the company. Know who you’re going to be meeting with. Know how to get to the office. Know how much time it’ll take to get there.

Know what’s on your resume and be able to discuss anything you’re written about yourself. Know the three things you want everyone you’re going to interview with to walk away knowing about you. Know your unique selling proposition.

If you’re prepared thoroughly, your anxiety level will be much easier to control. Then it’s important that you bear in mind the other pointers listed above; they’ll keep your stress level in check – and thereby elevate your performance – during the course of the day.

Do have a light meal before interviewing. Even though you may not feel hungry, it’s important that you not go into an interview (or a day of interviewing) on an empty stomach. Make it light and easily digestible, but do eat.

Take a deep breath before walking into the office. If you’re starting to feel tense during a conversation, remember your breathing. Take another deep breath. You can do it without being noticed, and it will calm you down.

Do remain focused. And definitely stay in the present. You may be interviewing for an entire day. It’s imperative that you focus on the person with whom you’re talking right now. Don’t think about the previous interview, or allow your mind to wander to the one coming up.

Your job interview is very important and for many people is a stressful situation – but you can manage your nerves. You won’t hit a home run every time, but you will elevate your batting average if you prepare like any elite performer. We have many more Job Interview Articles Now Available.