Your thoughts can start to take a downward spiral shift right before a job interview.
"What if I mess this up? Why can't I just pull it together when it really counts? How could I think I was good enough against the competition?"
The list of inner criticism goes on, sending your nervous system into overload (a.k.a. CRAZY TOWN!). This is actually a pretty normal reaction to a stressful situation which interviews tend to be, but with some practice the situation can be reversed back into your favor. When your body and mind no longer feel that they need to go into fight or flight mode, it will be more likely you can present a positive, professional image when in the hot seat.
How do you ward off the fears, anxiety, or self-doubts that are zapping away your chances at a good interview?
When the pressure and sweating start to spike before or while you are talking to an employer, bust out one of these trusty calming sidekicks for a better performance.
Fear Buster (ZAP!) If you don't believe you are the right person for the job, the employer will not either. Sure, there's a bunch of reasons you could think of as to why they should pick someone else. The harder work is where the pay off is--thinking of and believing in the many reasons why they absolutely will be a better company or organization when they do pick YOU. Start writing those reasons they should hire you down. At least 10 of them. If you can't think of that many ask a friend or a family member who you have a tight relationship with, "Why would you hire me?" Then make their answers your own by expanding on it, adding in more details, or letting them inspire you to think of new ones you had not written down before.
Got your list of 10 yet? Now make them all "I" statements. (examples: I am dependable. I help others. I like to learn.) This is your new gold mine when you start hearing that negative voice in your head or feeling stressed about the interview. As soon as you notice you are feeling down or nervous, pick up that list and look at. Say the 10 statements out loud. Studies show that you can amplify the positive effect this will have in your confidence at the interview by saying these statements to yourself in the mirror. Sure, it might feel awkward or silly at first, but who cares? Nobody else is around and you've got nothing to loose but unhelpful fears that block you from shining at the interview.
Anxiety Zapper (KAPOW!) Our bodies and minds do not notice much of a difference when we experience something positive for real or when we visualize it in our mind. The uplifting feeling and benefits are the same. That is why a lot of Olympic athletes, famous actors, and others use guided imagery or visualization to decrease their stress and improve their performance.
Give yourself an extra five or ten minutes before your next interview. Sit down in a quiet, safe place where you will not be disturbed (turn that smartphone off, too, for just a little bit!). Close your eyes and picture the most relaxing and comfortable place you have ever been to or would like to go to in the future. Perhaps it's a beach or a favorite relative's house or even just your own bed!
Make sure you really see and sense the details of the place in your mind. What is it about this place that made it pop into your head? How do you feel when you are there? Now imagine that feeling soaking into each part of your body, like a wave of warmth that starts up at your head and travels all the way down to your feet. Breathe that feeling in deeply five times. Open your eyes and notice that those knots of stress are not as tight as you just allowed yourself a wonderful, healthy five minute escape. Relieving your anxiety in this way even if only for a few minutes each day before the interview will help ensure a more positive experience while in the hot seat.
Self-doubt Knock-Out (BOOM!) Think of a previous success or time you felt that you accomplished your goal. It could be anything from winning a trophy in a sport to getting to the next level at a hard video game to acing a hard test or healing from an injury. Describe to yourself how you made that happen. What thoughts were you thinking at the time? What did you do when you were about to give up?
Reminding yourself when you've been successful in the past and exactly what strengths you used to make it happen will help you believe that you can step up to the next challenge. It also will leave less room for those pesky thoughts of not being good enough or messing up to do more damage.
Be sure to listen to that voice in your heart until it is louder than the one of self-doubt, anxiety, or fear in your head. You know, that often quieter voice that is starting to gain power. The one that if you listen closely you can hear saying, "You got this! You practiced. A lot. You are prepared. You will rock this interview." Keep up your commitment to upgrading your interviewing skills. Your future will be thanking you for it.
YOUR TURN--How would you describe that feeling that happens before or at an interview? Leave a comment below.Most of all, believe in you. I do.