Job interviews are one of the most stressful situations… You’re basically asking someone to judge where you’ve been, where you want to go, and your potential to get there. And on top of it all, you’ve usually got competition. The mind games that come along with the interview process can cause you to psyche yourself out, making it nearly impossible for you to present yourself in your best possible light.
We all go through this, so you’re not alone… but fewer people have figured out ways to put the games to rest and really be comfortable and confident in the interview setting. We’ve come up with some tips that may help you get into a calm state of mind, where you feel relaxed and able to perform your best. We won’t guarantee that each one of these will work for every person, but if you see one that you think fits your personality, give it a try and see if it helps!
1. Know when you feel your best. If you love mornings and feel at your best before the day is too far gone, try to steer your interview time towards the morning hours. If you’re miserable in the morning and you only really get going in the afternoon, try to guide your interview times to later in the day. Don’t risk seeming flexible and amenable in order to have your preferred interview time, but if you’re given a wide range of options or you are asked your preference, there’s nothing stopping you from picking a time when you know you’ll feel energized, confident, and happy.
2. Have everything ready the night before. This one is widely known and kind of a no-brainer, but really try to have everything in “grab and go” order the night prior to your interview. Your suit should be pressed, hanging up right next to the ironed shirt you’ll be wearing underneath. Hose or socks (if applicable) should be placed near the suit. Appropriately simple jewelry should be laid out on your counter. Your “interview” shoes should be tucked into a shoe bag so you can carry those with you while you commute in your more comfortable or weather-appropriate shoes. Corral all of the things you’ll need the next day – handbag, shoe bag, briefcase, keys, metro cards, small umbrella, reading glasses, resumes, pens, etc. Put them all in one place (ideally in a professional, spacious bag that holds all of these items) so you have less frantic searching happening in the morning. If you have a car, put everything into your car the night before, so all you have to do is grab your cell phone and your keys, and you’re out the door in the morning. If you commute by foot or train, make sure all of your items are gathered into the same space. That means everything for getting ready should be together, and everything you have to grab in the morning should be packed and in a place by the door. You’ll feel calm and in control the morning of your interview.
3. Don’t change your routine the night unnecessarily. Don’t run yourself an aromatherapy bath if that’s a foreign concept to you. Don’t fix yourself a huge breakfast if you usually just have cereal. Don’t go to sleep at 9pm if you usually go to bed at 10:30pm. Engaging in tasks that are outside of the norm will keep sending signals to your brain that something different is about to happen, which can send you into panic mode. Going about your normal routine can make you less anxious and keep you calm.
4. Plan something fun for after your interview. It’s such an easy trap to prepare for an interview so much that you forget it’s only one interview for one job in one company. In other words, it’s easy to lose perspective and make this one interview a life-or-death situation. It’s not. I’ve found that it works well to plan something fun after my interview will be complete. Whether it’s dinner with friends, a trip to your favorite bookstore, a phone chat with a relative, curling up with a glass of wine and reality TV, or taking a shopping trip, arrange something fun for the afternoon/evening of your interview. You’ll have something to look forward to, which puts you in a good mood and leads to an upbeat vibe, and it also puts things back in perspective. You’ll be out of the interview in the matter of a couple hours, and you’ll be off to do something fun!
5. Know that your interviewers WANT to like you. Interviewers meet so many people throughout their days, and they genuinely hope each person they meet will be friendly, engaging, and easy to talk to. Be that person – Smile, be warm and open while still remaining professional, and rest assured that if you’re nice to them, they’re going to be nice back to you. They are already on your side before you go into this meeting, so don’t worry that they won’t “like” you – they genuinely want to enjoy your company, so you’re already off to a great start.
6. Keep in mind that it’s just a conversation. During the interview, it’s easy to fall back into the “psyche out” mode by frantically formulating responses while questions are being asked. We all want to be prepared and run through our answers in our heads prior to opening our mouths, but it often leads to us being too distracted to really focus on the questions and give valid responses. This frantic formulation of responses, combined with a fear that they “may not like me,” is what makes an interview so much more stressful than meeting someone new at a dinner or a bar or at a party. Think about it… Anytime you meet someone new, you are peppered with questions: “What do you do for work? How did you get into that? What do you do with your time all day?” It’s really not much different from meeting someone in an interview, it’s just that your mind isn’t racing and reeling with how to make them like you, so you focus on the questions, answer calmly, and a conversation ensues. Relax in the interview, really pay attention to each question fully, and the responses will naturally come to you in the right moment. It will seem more natural, and before you know it, your nerves will have calmed and you feel like you’re having a normal conversation with someone you just met.
We hope that one or two of these tips will help you stress less for upcoming interviews, and we wish you the very best of luck in your upcoming meetings!