Overcoming Job Interview Anxiety
It’s normal to feel some level of anxiety or discomfort during a job interview. However, for some people that anxiety can detrimentally affect their performance, how they interact, and how they’re perceived. Here’s how to keep overcome job interview anxiety and keep those nerves in check.
Why do we feel stressed during a job interview?
Nerve-wracking experiences like a job interview for your dream job can trigger both thought related and physical anxiety. Sending a signal to your primitive arousal centre, the amygdala, involved in memory and responsible for the processing of your emotional responses, such as anxiety and fear.
Before you can even snap your fingers, you’re thrown into survival mode, as your sympathetic system takes over. Your heart rate increases, breathing becomes fast and shallow, mouth dries up, hands become cold and sweaty and muscles begin to shake.
Your body begins to withdraw and retreat, subconsciously making you seem smaller, as you avoid eye contact and close off in an attempt to protect yourself.
The visceral nerves that control your face, neck and shoulder muscles contract. Your jaw tenses, lips compress and brow furrows. But this anxiety can also set off the freeze response. Which can give the impression of an unsmiling frozen face.
In this negative state our concentration, ability to think, speak clearly and make decisions is impaired, and our self-esteem and confidence takes a hit. Our anxiety and low confidence are broadcast for all to see.
In this state, it’s fair to say that in this state we’re not putting our best foot forward.
But there’s good news!!
The good news is that you can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety through a few simple changes to your body language, posture facial expressions, breathing and thoughts.
Here’s how to calm those job interview nerves:
Understand that it’s normal to feel stressed before a job interview
The first step is to understand that it’s normal to feel stressed and anxious before a job interview. There’s nothing wrong with you. In fact, chances are the other candidates are feeling exactly the same way.
Acknowledge that you control your fears
My next tip is to acknowledge that you control your fears, not the other way around. There’s a great acronym for fear: False evidence appearing real. It appears real, because you’ve told yourself it’s what you fear, and your body acts accordingly. Sending your system into ‘freeze fight or flight’ whenever you get a stimulus.
But fear can be overcome, and that’s why something that scares one person can be a thrilling experience for you.
When we’re feeling anxious or nervous, we can become hyper aware and self-conscious of our body. In this state we can become acutely aware of our pounding heartbeat, our dry throat, our sweaty palms, and our shaking hands and legs, and wonder whether others can tell.
This does nothing to soothe our nerves. But you can change your focus in a heartbeat.
Focus on the positive
The more you focus on your fears and doubts the more power you give them. So, concentrate on what’s positive about you and your life.
Rather than focusing on what could go wrong, focus on the positive. Before you go into the interview think of 5 things that make you a great employee. And if you start to feel anxious turn your focus off you and onto the interviewer.
Change Your Focus
In other words, change your focus and make it your job to make them feel comfortable. Changing your attention will reduce your nerves, help you to maintain more positive nonverbal communication such as making eye contact, and help you to think and speak more clearly.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
When it comes to reducing your job interview nerves and anxiety, preparation really is key. Taking the time to research the organisation’s mission and values and familiarising yourself with the role and its requirements will put you one step ahead.
Think about the questions they might ask you
Next, think about the general and behavioural questions they might ask you for this role. Write down and flesh out your responses, and practice until you feel comfortable and no longer need your notes. The more you practice, the less anxious you’ll be, and the more comfortable, confident and competent you’ll seem.
Sit tall and breathe deeply
Next, it’s important to stand or sit tall and breathe deeply before and during an interview.
Taking two deep breaths will simulate the parasympathetic system, increase the amount of oxygen in your blood stream and reduce your heart rate. Which will help you to look and feel more confident and competent and help you to get rid of those anxious shakes.
Adopt the power pose
And last but definitely not least, adopt the power pose. Standing or sitting with a closed off, low power slouched posture increases the stress hormone cortisol and decreases our confidence and ability to take risks.
Studies show that slouching and tension can actually reduce your energy and make you feel more helpless and hopeless. This posture can also make you feel more anxious by diminishing your lung capacity causing you to take short, quick, shallow breaths.
For an instant confidence boost, stand tall, uncross your arms, legs and feet, put your feet firmly on the ground, pull your shoulders back, chin up, take two deep breaths and smile. You’ll reduce the stress hormone cortisol and give yourself a boost of testosterone making you look and feel more confident.
Make sure you look and feel the part
For an extra confidence boost, make sure you look and feel the part. Dress and groom to impress and keep your breath confidently fresh with Breath Pearls.
Katia Loisel is a Relationship and Body Language expert and founder of Love Destination, a global streaming service for everything love, dating and relationships. She is the host of the Breath Pearls – Get Closer series, coming soon to TVs near you.