Combating Interview Anxiety: Quell Your Job-Search Jitters and Put Your Best Face Forward
It’s an hour before your big job interview, and you’ve come down with a serious case of butterflies. Your palms are clammy, your hands are shaking, your voice is trembling, and you’re even starting to feel a bit queasy.
Job search experts say it’s perfectly normal to experience this kind of anxiety in the lead-up to any significant event. Mentally and physiologically, we still bear a close resemblance our prehistoric forebears. When faced with a challenge, we often experience the same rush of adrenaline that helped our distant ancestors outrun hungry predators.
In modern life, though, the challenges that can provoke this fight-or-flight response are usually a bit more sedate, so instead of burning off this burst of fuel in a life-or-death sprint, we’re forced to go through stressful events like job interviews, traffic court, or final exams with all of the jittery symptoms of anxiety.
In a way, job search specialists say, it can be a good thing if you’re nervous before an interview; it shows that you understand the significance of the opportunity and its potential impact on your life and livelihood. That being said, though, will you still be able to pull off a first-class interview performance in this state?
According to the experts, probably so -- as long as you take the steps necessary to harness and channel your nervousness. Left unchecked, though, your pre-interview anxiety could derail your interview hopes. Here are some hints to help you take control of your anxious energy and make the most of it.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.
Essentially, the anxiety you experience before an interview is really nothing more than a variation of the basic human fear of the unknown. In order to reduce your anxiety, you have to work hard to alleviate the “unknown” part of the equation. Take advantage of the days before the interview to learn anything and everything you can about the company, the role, and the hiring manager. Brush up on basic interviewing techniques and common interview questions. The more prepared you feel, the less nervous you’ll be. Plus, it’s always a bonus to be able to demonstrate a thoughtful understanding of the company during an interview.
Practice Your Interview Script.
Although it’s important to know as much as you can before the interview, all of the research in the world can’t prepare you for the elements of your performance -- the dialogue, the back-and-forth, the conversation, the banter -- that can make or break the interview. To do that successfully, you have to engage in a little role-playing and actually talk your way through your résumé, your prepared answers, your “pitch,” and anything else you think might help your chances. Interview yourself in the mirror, or have a friend lead you through several dry runs. Actually speaking the words out loud prepares you in a way that mere mental exercises can’t match.
Think About Money Beforehand.
The prospect of engaging in salary negotiations fuels the pre-interview anxiety of many job seekers. Be sure to do market research and prepare a realistic ballpark figure well before you step into the interviewing room. Having this number in mind can eliminate a lot of needless anxiety.
Take a Deep Breath.
It may sound cliché, but many job seekers say it helps to rely on tried-and-true methods of stress relief in the hours and minutes before an interview. Whether your preferred anxiety relief method is jogging, deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or anything else, try to devote some time for decompression before your interview. On the drive to the interview site, take deep, measured breaths and remain poised and focused.
Last but not least, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Avoid spending too much time on last-minute preparations in the 24 hours before the interview. Get a good night’s sleep, eat a light, nutritious meal, and take it easy in the last few hours before your scheduled meeting. By carving out as much time as possible to relax and focus just before your interview, you’ll be much more likely to tame -- and to conquer -- the inevitable pre-interview jitters.