Taming the Interview Tiger

Taming the interview

Your palms are sweaty.  Your voice is cracking.  Your mouth is dry and your face is flushed.  You feel sick to your stomach.  Are you being chased by a wild tiger?  Nope, you’re about to walk into a job interview.

According to Dr. Tamar Chansky, author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety, “When we perceive that we are in a high stakes situation, the brain doesn’t distinguish the high stakes of a job interview – where it would help to be calm, cool and collected – from the high stakes of being under threat from attack (like that tiger).  The body responds the same way – gearing up to run or fight for our lives.  We experience a myriad of highly inconvenient and uncomfortable reactions which would make complete sense if there really were a tiger there.”

Hmmm…. Thanks for the help there, body.  Just when I need you to be calm, cool and collected for an interview, you turn on  all the wrong things.  So, what can we do to try and circumvent some of these nervous and inconvenient behaviors?  Here are 4 tips that can help you overcome the job interview jitters:

Be Prepared.  Get a good night’s sleep the night before (you can celebrate the night after the interview, but no celebrating the night before!) and eat a healthy breakfast the morning of interview day.  Oodles of studies have shown that people function better and think more clearly with a full belly.  Have your wardrobe picked out the night before (discovering a ketchup stain on your tie the morning of can throw off your mojo), and know how to get to their office.  Don’t wait until the morning of the interview to print your resume (what if your printer runs out of ink?).  Be prepared.

Be calm.  Remember, you were invited to come and interview.  Someone, somewhere thinks that you have the skills and experience for this job.  So take a big, cleansing breath and be confident in that knowlegde.  The best way to stay calm is to be prepared (see above).   Practice answers to anticipated questions either with a friend or by yourself.  I always practice this kind of thing in the car – I may look like a lunatic to the person in the car next to me, but I am much calmer and more confident at show time.  Studies show that the pressure point in the middle of your hand relaxes the mind and eases anxiety – press in gently, release and press more deeply.  This technique can help relax you before and even during the interview.  Be calm.

Take Your Time.  If you get caught off guard by a question, take a moment to formulate your thoughts.  Try not to talk too fast.  Take some deep breaths before you go into the interview and between questions if you need to.  A well thought out answer is more likely to impress an employer than a quick, off the cuff one.  Take your time.

Think friend, not foe.  Remember that the person interviewing you is a human being, not a rejection machine.  They need somebody and it could very well be you!  Think of the interview as a conversation between two people who are getting to know each other – interviews are a two-way street.  Put yourself in the mindset that you are deciding whether you want to work for them as much as they are deciding whether they want to work with you.  This can make you feel less self-conscious and less anxious.  Think friend, not foe.

Hopefully these little tips will help you stay calm and in control before your next interview.  Another idea is to come in and see us at Sea Coast Staffing.  We’ll help get you prepared for interviews and practice with you.  No tigers on the premises – just smiles and chocolate!