Anxiety can run wild before interviews, even if you’re a veteran in the field. Typically, anxiety arises when you are speaking to yourself negatively, or you think about worst case scenarios – thoughts that aren’t factual. For example, you may think, “I’m going to bomb this interview”, “I’m not fit for this job”, or “others are more qualified than me”. When this loop of thoughts occurs, you may notice your heartbeat race and your breath quicken. Under these conditions, sitting through an interview will be torturous. These are some tips on how you can relax for interviews.
Exercise before the interview
Anxiety can produce the ‘flight or fight’ response, which prepares our body to do something physical. For example, the panic you feel when you see danger can be like the panic you feel when you are highly anxious for an interview. When you exercise, you are giving your response a physical outlet, or “bringing that system to fruition,” as discussed by Dr. LuAnn Helms in her series for stress management. On top of this, your brain will produce feel good hormones, which will help keep you positive for the interview.
Take deep breaths in the waiting area
Stress management can be greatly helped by taking deep conscious breaths. Waiting for an interview can be torturous, especially if your anxiety is on the rise. When this happens, oxygen levels are reduced in the brain, therefore taking long deep breaths can give your brain much needed air. The waiting area is a great way to refocus on the breath, instead of the negative thoughts, and breath. Dr. LuAnn Helms has a great video on different breathing exercises that you can do while waiting.
Treat the interview like a conversation
This may be the hardest tip to digest because you may think “it’s not just a conversation!”. But it truly is a conversation. While showing respect and curiosity, engage your employer in a conversation. Thinking this way will help reduce the pressure you apply on yourself and will allow the interviewer to feel more relaxed as well! You can engage the employer by asking questions about them as well (as you would in any other conversation). Interviews are meant for you to learn about your potential employer and vice versa.
Remember, you’re human!
Interviews can truly be one of the most nerve-racking experiences in your professional journey. Getting nervous and anxious is just a part of the growing process. There are professionals who have been in the field for decades and still find interviews to be difficult. This response is not a reflection of your capabilities or adequacy for the position. If you make a mistake, you will learn. Remember, you are human!
These tips may seem simple, but they truly help reduce anxiety when you need it. Exercising, conscious breathing, treating the interview like a conversation, and remembering you are human are the little tools you can use to relax for interviews. They can help you reconnect your mind to your body, while giving you a fresh perspective on how to view the interview.