There is no doubt that the interview process can be a challenging one for many people.  The anxiety and nervousness that comes with this process can be distracting and debilitating, causing some of us to perform below our best.  Some people have had such negative experiences that they dread the thought of interviews and either have an increase in stress or don’t apply for new roles, limiting their potential and sense of well-being.

Over the years I’ve helped many people to deal with their nerves in an interview situation.  Here are my top 8 tips:

Remember to breathe.  Obviously, you don’t need to learn how to breathe, but one of the first signs of anxiety is that we breathe faster and consequently, talk faster.   If we deliberately breathe slower, we are more likely to speak in a more measured, considered and articulate manner.  One technique is the 1-4-2 technique.  That is, if you inhale for one second, hold for four and exhale for two seconds.  If you inhale for three seconds, you hold for twelve and exhale for six etc.  If you were to do this for a five-minute period during the hour before the interview, you will impact your physiological state, giving you more control over your nerves.  You will also maximise the flow of fully oxygenated blood to your brain, giving you the capacity to think clearer and remember better.

Nail the first question.  Generally speaking, the first question in an interview will be something like, “Tell me about the role that you are applying for.”  If you are well-researched and practice hard, you should be able to give a clear, thorough response without too much heart-ache.  Just imagine how much your confidence levels will rise during the rest of the interview if you really nail that first one.  You’ll be more alert, you’ll have impressed the interviewer and you’ll be ready for more.

Maintain positive thought processes.  If you think that you don’t interview well, you are going to be right.  If, when asked a question, you are thinking, “I don’t know this”, “I can’t do this”, “Why am I here?” or “They must think that I’m stupid” etc. then you are not using your mind to think about the best response.  Conversely, if you are positive about your capacity to communicate your skills and abilities to others, you dramatically increase your chances of being able to think without distraction about your response.  We are all self-fulfilling prophecies, if we believe that we are going to be successful and act upon that belief, we give ourselves an outstanding chance of success.  Also, if you are thinking positively and confidently, you are more likely to being sitting upright, not hunched over.  Sitting upright allows you to use your diaphragm more in your breathing, assisting that process and relaxing the body.

Find confident role-models.  Some people in our society seem to ooze confidence.  If you find it difficult to imagine yourself without nerves, think of someone you know who would be able to perform in an interview with poise.  What do they do?  What is their body language like?   What are they thinking when under pressure?  What can you take from their example for yourself, you would be surprised at the results if you were to imagine some of their techniques and apply them to your life.

Physical exercise.  One of the problems with nervous energy is that we have no way of expressing or releasing it.  Going to the gym in the morning, walking or riding a bike to work can be helpful way of expending some of this energy so that your butterflies settle down a little.  Exercise also encourages healthy blood-flow to the brain, which can only be of assistance.  Be careful not to exercise to the point of exhaustion, as this would be counter-productive.  Also, make sure that you shower afterwards, you don’t want to be known as the smelly candidate.

Remember your past successes.  Most people reading this article would have been employed at least once in their lives.  If you have ever been employed, it is also safe to assume that you have satisfactorily conducted yourself in an interview at least once in your life.  Take this to mean that you are not that bad at interviews.  If you can, try to recall what specifically you did well on that occasion.  What was your body language like?  What did you do well?

Have an anchor.  Some people find it helpful to find a word, symbol or gesture that puts us in a resourceful state.  Many athletes use this technique to great success when under pressure.  Former Australian cricket captain, Steve Waugh had his lucky red hanky sticking out of his pocket.  When he took it out to wipe his brow after every delivery, it would remind him of the need to concentrate on the task at hand.  To develop an anchor, you need to get yourself in a relaxed frame of mind, where you feel totally focussed and positive.  Once you have yourself in this state, find an anchor to remind your body of this state.  You might touch your left elbow, clench both fists, have a trigger word or wear a favourite tie or shoes.  Allow your mind to think of something else then repeat the process, each time associating the feeling of resourcefulness with your anchor.  You will need to do this on multiple occasions, but if you get it right, you will be amazed at how you feel when you use this anchor in the future.  Skilled exponents can change their whole state of mind in a moment using this technique.

Don’t exaggerate the consequences.  I’ve heard lots of people say, “I have to get this job” and act as though it will be the end of the world if they don’t get it.  Putting that much pressure on yourself can be counter-productive and place you in an unresourceful state.  Whilst you will be disappointed if you don’t get it, it’s not the end of the world.  With over half of the world’s population living on under $2.50 per day and over 80% on under $10 per day.  Unless you are one of that number, getting melodramatic over a potential unsuccessful job interview is taking the problem out of context.

I hope that at least one of these tips is helpful.

If you have any other tips to share, please comment below.

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