Interviewing 101: Relax!

By George Bernocco

“What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind!” – Homer Simpson

You’ve done it. A call has come in scheduling you for an interview. You’ve been practicing with your friends, family and even your hairdresser about how to answer interview questions. The interview date is approaching, everything is lining up for this dream job you are hoping GOING to get. You’ve planned your route, outfit, childcare, meals for the day. The routine is set and the big day has finally arrived.

Now what?

Feeling nervous is the body’s natural response to perceived stress. Everyone reacts differently to stress but it can be described in various forms: butterflies in your stomach, shortness of breath, body pain, sweating, and migraines are just some of the symptoms. As you can imagine, these might distract you from your interview game. So now, let us talk about ways to minimize, if not remove, these symptoms that can affect your big day.

  1. Look before you leap

Planning ahead will minimize your stress immensely. Nothing can stress you out more than being stuck in traffic and your interview is in two minutes, or not finding the required interview paperwork before you leave to your interview. Making the interview day as easy as possible by planning ahead will give you more of a sense of control, and control is good. Scrambling around for unwrinkled interview pants on the day of the interview may leave you flustered and it can impact the interview negatively. Plan anything and everything, down to when you will leave your house to how many copies of your résumé will already be printed out.

  1. Rock-a-bye

Going along with planning your day, you will also want to plan the night before. Getting the right amount of sleep can help reduce stress. This involves being your own parent and instituting a bed time. Save the all night benders for your celebration and the Netflix marathon for another time. Ensure your alarm is set before you go to bed and start counting sheep.

  1. Nitrogen-Oxygen-Argon-Carbon Dioxide-Methane

Taking moments during your big day to slowly inhale and exhale will produce a calming feeling. As you read this post, hopefully you have tried taking a deep breath in and released it slowly. Doesn’t that feel good? Even if you are not experiencing shortness of breath, the slow breathing will give you pause and more of a sense of control.

  1. “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Stay positive! Look into that mirror and compliment yourself. Use this to assure yourself that the position is right for you. Providing yourself with this positive outlook will make the interview hurdle seem that much smaller. Also, believing you are fit and right for the job will become a self-fulfilling prophecy as the interviewer will believe it too. Doubt and negativity will only impact your interview poorly, so make sure you spend some time casting doubts aside.

  1. Crochet your day away

When you’ve done the planning for the interview and you have spare time, spend it doing the things you love. Hobbies keep us entertained, relaxed and sane, so it makes sense to use this to your advantage. Go for a run, peruse through your stamp collection, finish that 3-D puzzle or turn on your X Box. Just like dessert comes after the meal, use your hobby as a treat for all your interview preparation. If you’re using your hobby in place of preparation, then it’s counterproductive and just regular old procrastination.

Now that we’ve discussed some of the things to do to stay calm, let’s discuss some of the things not to do. We are going to turn our attention to the interview itself, which may be the most stressful time out of the whole ordeal. All employers/recruiters know interviews can be stressful and the interviewee is most likely nervous. By the interviewee appearing more confident rather than nervous, the employer will have more confidence in you. When we are nervous, even just a little bit, we all have bad habits. Here is a list of habits to avoid doing as they can distract the interviewer so that you, the interviewee, can appear more confident:

  1. Fidgeting

Shuffling around in your seat, crossing and uncrossing your legs, looking all around the room, touching your face, playing with your hands. Avoid all of the above and keep your focus on the interviewer(s). Locking eye contact with the interviewer will have you less likely to shuffle around and more focused and “honed in”.

  1. Biting your nails

Avoid at all costs. If you are a nail-biter, keep your hands folded during the interview. Usually people who nail bite don’t even realize they are doing it, so at the start of the interview keep your hands folded in your lap or on the table in front of you.

  1. Playing with your hair

Not only does this nervous habit demonstrate anxiety, but it can also be tied to other negative opinions about you. The interviewer may feel you appear uncertain when you listen/talk while twirling your curls. Lock your hands by folding them in front of you, like the nail-biters, to prevent you from doing this.

  1. Biting your lip or cheek

Biting your lip or cheek subliminal indicates to the employer that you are uncertain or even deceptive. You want to avoid it at all costs. By constantly smiling, it makes it harder to bite your mouth and chew on your lip. So smile away, and that is much more of a positive action.

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Standing Tall

or How I learned to stop slouching and power pose my way into self-confidence

By Uri Allen, CPRW

 superman

I want you, for a moment, to think of the most powerful, brave and courageous superhero you know. Close your eyes for a moment and envision the character. Pay attention to their stance, their posture, their pose. Perhaps they have their hands on their hips, standing up straight, chin held high. Maybe they are flexing their muscles. How much of their image of strength and heroism is portrayed by their body language? What does their body language say about them?  Body language is one of the most integral parts of how we as humans communicate to one another. How we sit, stand, look and gesture can say so much more than words can and when you are “ing-ing” (job searchING, interviewING, networkING), your body language can convey messages to potential employers and colleagues, such as your level of confidence…or lack there of.  But did you also realize that your body language can also convey messages to your own brain? Researchers have been studying the various ways our body language affects the biological processes in the body and brain and evidence has been suggesting that “power posing” actually has some real effect on the way the brain responds to stressful situations, including things like interviewing. According to Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Andy J. Yap, researchers who conducted a study on power posing concluded that:

“…results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications. (Carney, Cuddy, Yap 2010)”

So, what exactly is “Power Posing” you might be asking yourself. Power posing is exactly what it sounds like…standing or sitting in a powerful pose. Think Superman or Wonder Woman.  Assuming a powerful stance can, according to the study, increase feelings of power and confidence by preparing your brain and physiological systems to get ready for a stressful situation.  This can be wildly helpful for someone who is a nervous or not-so confident interviewee. By triggering the brain to be prepared for a stressful situation and simulating feelings of power and confidence, the nervous interviewee can begin to overcome feelings of apprehension, nervousness and lack of confidence, all of which could be problematic during the interview process.

I’ve actually used power posing myself and have found that it really shifted the way I felt both physically and mentally. Some time ago, I had an interview for a promotional opportunity for a position that I had really wanted (I’ll save you the suspense…I didn’t get the position) so I was incredibly nervous. and in fact, it was the first time in years that I was nervous for an interview. After all, I taught other people how to interview! But nevertheless, I was a nervous wreck. I had been hearing a lot about this power posing theory so I decided that I had nothing to lose but my nerves by trying it out so I went into the bathroom before my interview and closed the stall door behind me and power posed for a good 3 minutes. I held these poses and concentrated on wanting to exude the confidence these poses represented in my interview. I focused on feeling powerful and brave. Soon my nerves were replaced with confidence and I was able to have a fantastic interview. So while I didn’t get the job I learned something valuable that day…I learned how to overcome my nerves with a simple (and fun) technique.

I’ve recommended power posing to my clients in the past and many have used the technique to prepare for interviews or job fairs and have said that they have seen a change in the way they approach situations that have made them nervous in the past. Next time you are faced with a situation that sends your nerves into overdrive, try power posing! Strike a powerful pose for a few minutes when you need that extra boost or do it every day to grow those feelings of confidence and power! Have you tried power posing? If so, let us know how it worked for you!

For some more information on Power Posing:

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/10/business/bolt-success-power-posing/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323608504579022942032641408.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html (Awesome TED talks about power posing with Amy Cuddy, one of the researchers from the study mentioned)