Congratulations! You have a job interview for an interesting position! Now … if only you can get through the interview. Many people find the interview phase one of the most challenging parts of looking for a job. If you have social anxiety, the feeling of discomfort is magnified. There are several steps you can take to make this high-stress situation less intimidating, however.
Remind yourself that while you may be more anxious about your job interview than some people, virtually nobody walks into an interview without some level of jitters. Believe it or not, even some human resources professionals and many managers dread interviewing candidates because it makes them nervous!
Get Enough Rest
Being sleep deprived seldom enhances any situation, especially one in which you’re trying to present your best side to a prospective employer. Being well rested will go a long way toward helping you to stay calm.
When you “catch yourself” thinking negative thoughts about the interview, replace them with something positive. Remind yourself that you have been interviewed before, that it has gone well and it will be fine this time. Most people are nervous about being interviewed for jobs and the person you will be meeting knows that. You won’t be expected to do all the talking during the meeting. It’s all right if there are some periods of silence when you need to think about an answer.
Do Some Rehearsing
If the idea of being stuck on an answer is really bothering you, try to think back to previous job interviews or look online for a list of possible questions you may be asked regarding this particular position. Review them carefully and write out your own answers. Go over them until they become natural, not mechanical, responses.
Have a friend or family member role-play a mock job interview with you that includes all possibilities from greeting you at the door to wrapping up the interview. Your friend can ask you random questions from the list or toss in a few unexpected ones.
Afterward, ask your friend to let you how well you did – whether you appeared self-assured and confident or if you need some more practice. Your friend should also rate you on whether you sat up straight in your chair or whether you slumped down to avoid taking up space, if you made eye contact with the interviewer, spoke clearly and if your answers were clearly understandable.
Ease Off on the Caffeine
On the day of the interview, limit those morning coffees or stick to decaf. You may also want to forego chocolate, sugar and energy drinks as well. Being nervous about an interview is normal – attending one with the caffeine jitters will only heighten your anxiety level.
Practice Deep Breathing Techniques
Deep breathing can be done anytime, anywhere, even if you start to feel stressed in the waiting room before your job interview.
Start by sitting in a comfortable position with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. While learning this technique, place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach (only until you’ve mastered it).
1. Inhale slowly through your nose while silently counting to four; the hand on your stomach should rise and the hand on your chest should not move very much.
2. Hold your breath for a silent count of two.
3. Exhale slowly through your mouth to the count of six, pushing out as much air as you can without blowing it out forcefully. The hand on your stomach should move in as you let your breath go, but the hand on your chest should not move very much.
4. Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, keeping a slow, steady rate of the four-in, hold for two and six-out pattern until you feel calmer.
Plan Some Post-Interview Fun
Don’t make the interview the highlight of the day. While it’s important to your career and you naturally want to present yourself well, it’s likely not your first or last interview. Just about everyone has a story to tell about how they aced or bombed an interview, so put it behind you, hope for the best and plan to treat yourself to something you enjoy afterward.
Whatever you decide to do, you’ll have something to look forward to after you’ve finished with the interview. You may even be celebrating that it went better than you expected!