What to do about interview nerves

By: Duncan Gotobed

What To Do About Interview Nerves

You have probably been through it yourself. You toss, turn, and cannot get to sleep the night before. Your stomach feels as if it is doing somersaults. You feel anxious, worried, and apprehensive. You just know that tomorrow you will face a mean-spirited, hostile interrogation.

Congratulations - you have a classic case of "interview nerves".

While most people experience interview nerves at some point in their career, they are not a requirement for interviewing. In fact, you can calm those anxious nerves using a few simple techniques.

Practice and prepare

Practice your interviewing skills ahead of time and prepare some good answers to likely questions you will face. Many community centers, community colleges, and employment agencies offer interviewing classes so sign up for one.

You can also role-play interviews with another person. Choose someone who can help you create a realistic interview situation. Another good option is to contact an outplacement service provider in your area and pay for an hour or two of interview coaching.

This does cost a bit of money, but it is well worth it for the intensive, personalized coaching you receive.

Positive Self-Talk

What is self-talk? We all talk to ourselves, all the time - just usually not aloud. Words, phrases, statements and stories rattle around in our heads, with either positive or negative tones. Negative self-talk may show up as thoughts like:

  • I'm not good enough
  • I flunked the last interview - why should this one be any different?
  • John is better than me - he's bound to get the job
  • I don't have the right experience

When your mind is filled with these kinds of negative thoughts, there is little room left for positive and helpful thoughts. If you want to be a success, you need to think success, so start 'programming' your thoughts with positive self-talk, such as:

  • I have lots of experience and knowledge to bring to this job
  • In this interview I'm going to listen to the questions and think about my answers
  • I can do this job
  • I have the right experience and skills

Visioning Success

This is a nerve-calming technique that builds a 'picture' or 'vision' of success in your mind. When you create that vision of success, you help yourself move toward and achieve that vision.

Start by finding a quiet place to sit, relax, and close your eyes. In your mind, create an image of yourself being successful during the interview situation. Observe yourself in this vision and ask yourself questions such as:

  • What am I doing?
  • How am I sitting?
  • How am I responding to questions?
  • How is the interviewer responding to me?

The answers to these questions help you identify and define the thoughts in your mind that make it possible for you to be so confident, calm, and in control. If you feel yourself becoming anxious before an interview, take a few moments to visualize yourself being successful. Remember, when you focus on what you want to happen - it often does!

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