Nervousness is a natural human response when so much seems to be at stake. Remember this important fact: the human brain functions best when at a slightly anxious state. When you are anxious, your blood pumps faster, and you are able to readily access important information quicker. Think about when you had to take the SAT in high school. If you were too anxious, what happened? You froze up and your mind went blank. But if you were just slightly anxious, you were able to get into the test and start answering questions fairly quickly. Although the interview is not a test, you are in fact studying by thoroughly preparing. Many people find that following the preparation steps outlined above helps them cope with their anxiety. If you continue to have excessive nervousness about the interview, in spite of this, please read on.
Remember that the interview is just a purposeful conversation, NOT an interrogation
Hopefully, a light will not be shined in your face as you answer questions during the interview. Humor aside, the interview is a conversation between two professionals, not a one-sided examination. It may seem to you to be an interrogation if you perceive the employer as having an edge over you. In fact, you are equals. Both parties will be asking and answering questions, as the interviewer wants to learn more about you, and you want to learn about them and the company. Both participants have a stake in ensuring that the other party is excited about what they are offering.
Think about the worst thing that could happen
You are probably thinking that the worst thing that can happen is that you will not get the job. That probably seems pretty bad, but considering that the average interview to offer ratio is 4 to 1, most people will not get every job they interview for. In fact, you will not get three out of four jobs for which you interview! If you can not let go of the fear, think about what is behind that fear. Perhaps you have been out of work for some time and are concerned about paying your bills this month. Maybe it is your self-esteem or credibility that is on the line. Write down those fears on a piece of paper and write a corresponding reassuring phrase for each.
While it is important that you put a great deal of effort into preparing for your interview, it is also important to have an attitude of restrained enthusiasm. Realize that there are things outside of your control and all you can do is prepare the best you can. The rest will take care of itself.
Tips for Relaxation
If you are experiencing a distressing level of anxiety immediately before the interview, utilize the following tips:
- Become experienced at utilizing breathing exercises to slow down your heart rate. You will need to start this at least a week before the interview. Inhale through your nose to the count of 5, hold for 5 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 5 seconds. Repeat as needed. This is a terrific exercise for calming yourself down quickly. *Tip: when practicing this technique, have a mint. Your body will start to associate the taste of mint with relaxation. Gradually, you will be able to get to a relaxed state faster when you pop a mint in your mouth before the interview!
- Avoid having more caffeine than normal the day of the interview. You may interpret the caffeine “jitters” as nervousness and become unnecessarily anxious.
- Utilize positive imagery to replace your negative thoughts. If you find yourself imagining a worst case scenario, try to replace that image with one of you being successful. During your fantasy, notice what behaviors you are exhibiting: what you are saying, and how you present yourself. You can be that person you are imagining!