Jobhop Jobhop's blog : Tips & Tricks to Cope with Job Interview Stress
The first Wednesday in November each year is National Stress Awareness Day. We all know what it's like to be stressed - being under pressure is a normal part of life. But becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to health problems or make existing problems worse. National Stress Awareness Day is a great opportunity to take a moment to think about out wellbeing and find advice or support on managing stress. We've got some suggestions for how you can cope with stress in the run up to your interview...
So, you've finally landed yourself an interview for your dream job. But what now?
Chances are you're feeling slightly apprehensive (see also: terrified) about the big day, as every nightmare scenario plays out in your head:
"What if I forget everything I've ever learned in my entire life when they ask me a question?", "what if I trip on the way in and fall flat on my face?", "what if I get lost on the way there?"
Feel like you're suffering from an irrational fear of interviews? To help you officially de-stress, here are some of the best ways to battle interview nerves and make sure you stay calm, collected and confident on the big day...
This one cannot be stressed enough. All too often job applicants get knots in their stomachs because they don't know what to expect. Not knowing what kind of curve balls employers can throw at you is pretty nerve-wracking. But the easiest way to walk into your scheduled interview with confidence is to plan ahead and think through the worst-case scenarios. This includes not only formulating answers to common interview questions such as "why should we hire you instead of other applicants?" and "why do you want to work here?", but also jotting down answers to the questions you fear the most. For example, is there a particular question that you're just dreading the interviewer will ask? If so, face your greatest fear and try coming up with an answer that is both honest and will also reflect you in a positive light.
This is not to say that you should memorise all of your answers after all some variant of these questions may be asked and you don't want to appear robotic in your responses. However, having some ideas of what you could say is a sure fire way to get rid of some of those nerves. You'll also want to make sure you know a little bit about the company history and some of its latest projects. Not only will it demonstrate that you're serious about working there but it can also give your answers some substance.
You should also research the company using a service like Glassdoor and get to know your interviewer using every social media resource you can find.
Get there early - but not too early
Rushing, getting lost, and the fear of being late all provoke anxiety. Print out directions to the interview location the day before and plan to arrive 30 minutes early. However, don't enter the building until 10 minutes before the scheduled interview. The anticipation of waiting can be brutal. Have a mini plan to kill some time before the interview - walk around the block and do some deep breathing. One of the worst things you can do is arrive at an interview too early and be stuck waiting in the reception area for an extended period of time.
Use visual imagery to improve stress
Close your eyes and imagine a scene, place of event (imaginary or real) that's peaceful, serene, happy and/or beautiful. Try to incorporate all your senses into the image - what you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel.
You can also imagine the interview going well, walking through it step by step to improve your confidence and reduce your stress. The mind is unable to differentiate between real and imaginary, so what you feed it is accepted as truth.
Schedule interviews in the morning
Get stressful things out of the way early, that leaves less time for negative thinking. Of course, if you're not a morning person, you might need to tailor this advice to your internal clock. The idea is to plan your interview for as early as possible, given your nature. In other words, if you're not a morning person and not yourself until 10 am, schedule the interview for 11 and not 9.
Be careful what you eat or drink prior to your interview
This probably goes without saying, but avoid caffeine before the interview. It's also never a good idea to have an alcoholic drink before an interview, even if you think it will 'relax' you. Eat something light before your interview so your stomach isn't growling or you get light-headed. A heavy meal can make you feel tired, so eat moderately. (And make sure you check a mirror for any leftover spinach!)
Enter and exit confidently
A smile and a strong handshake are simple techniques for creating an impression of self-confidence. And asking the interviewers some strong questions before you finish can leave a positive lasting impression, such as "what do you like about working here?"
When you're anxious, your breathing is shallow. Try breathing in for a count of 4, hold for 2, and breathe out for a count of 4. Do this for a minute or two. You can usually practice breathing anywhere (like the waiting area before your interview); no one will likely notice it. You could also take a few minutes to sit and breathe calmly in your car when you've parked at the interview site.
Although some stress is good - you need to get that adrenaline pumping in order to perform at your peak - the secret to acing an interview is to come across as relaxed and confident rather than anxious. Techniques for staying calm start the night before, such as taking a warm bath, going to the gym (let those natural endorphins put you in a better frame of mind) and getting a good nights sleep. On the day, have a healthy breakfast, take a walk and get some fresh air. Before you go into the interview, don't forget to take some slow, deep breaths like we previously mentioned, and loosen your jaw and shoulders by having a good shake to release tension. Starting with your feet and moving up, tighten each part of your body then relax it.
If you know relaxation isn't your strong point, start looking for ways to deal with it early. There are various techniques to help. Many focus on breathing, so take a look online to see what tips you can find.
Listen to music
Another way to get rid of nerves is to listen to music that will put you either in a tranquil non-stress state or listen to some music that will pump you up - you know, some confidence boosting music that assures you that you're in fact the best. It can help you feel inspired which can in-turn help you dominate in the interview. Make a playlist and listen to some motivational or simply relaxing music on the drive to the interview and/or while you wait.
Rationalise your fears
Put your job interview into perspective: the isn't the only job out there. They wouldn't be interviewing you if they thought you lacked potential for the position. Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones: " I could get the job" rather than "I probably won't get the job".
Sometimes thinking of it as a meeting rather than an interview helps to get over irrational fears: it reinforces the idea that an interview is a two-way process.
Think of something you've achieved that you're proud of and use it to build your confidence. Tell yourself: "I've lived abroad on my own/run a half-marathon, I can do this!"
Ask when a decision will be made
A frequent source of stress is interviewing for a job and never hearing back. Do your best to gather as much information as possible and ask when a decision will be made. It's a fair question, so don't appear shy. Remaining relaxed during a job interview will give you the confidence to sell yourself properly and earn a job offer.
A positive mindset can make a big difference to your interview performance - and ultimately, the outcome. You wouldn't have been invited to the interview if you weren't being seriously considered as a candidate. Use this knowledge to your advantage to mentally pump yourself up before the interview. It can take the edge off enough to allow you to approach the situation with a burst of self-assurance and poise.
Be open about nervousness
Lastly, if you start feeling nervous during the interview it's okay to admit it. During the beginning of the interview or if you start to stumble on a question, it's okay to say something like "I apologise, I'm extremely nervous, this is my first interview". This will only make you appear more human and the interviewer may just be able to relate to you more. Who knows, the interviewer may even be just as nervous as you are.
Finally, don't worry, relax and remember that this 'meeting' is as much for you as it is for your interviewers. Coming across well in interviews is largely a case of mind over matter. If all else fails, smile, take a slow deep breath and tell yourself: "win or lose, this will all be over in an hour".
What is your favourite coping mechanism for interview-related stress? We want to hear from you! Share your tips with us over on Twitter.
In: Kyria Bush Jobhop.co.uk
Kyria Bush Jobhop.co.uk