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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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:
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”.
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.
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.
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.