Before a job interview, nervousness is normal, expected, and even beneficial – as long as it doesn’t spiral out of control. It’s your body’s way of preparing you to win. As noted by Dr. Sherry Benton, founder and chief science officer of the online behavioral health platform Tao Connect, when you experience anxiety, “the brain’s limbic system fires and makes (you) ready for whatever you need to do, whether it’s fight or flight.”
All you need to do is moderate those nerves to keep them at a healthy level. Dr. Benton goes on to say that “you want some performance anxiety, but not too much. You want your nerves to show you’re interested and excited. But if you’re overstressed, you won’t do well … so strive for the middle zone.”
Here are some tips for balancing those pre-interview jitters:
Take a pause and breathe.
Even a simple deep breath can help you calm your nerves. Or, you may want to try the STOP method, which helps you slow down and be deliberate, not only in your actions but also in the feelings you may let take over.
- Four-count breathing is a similar proven technique. Breathe in, hold your breath for four counts, then breathe out and hold it again for four seconds. This slows your heart and your body and reduces the amount of cortisol and adrenaline you’re using. By slowing your breathing, you’ll become more centered and confident.
Practice makes perfect.
Rehearse your interview ahead of time with a trusted friend or coach. Record it and watch it afterward. Rinse and repeat until you’ve worked out all the bumps.
- Master your body power pose. According to Harvard Business School research, positioning your body in a stance of powerlessness affects how you behave. Assuming a power pose makes you more calm, charismatic and in control.
- Make a cheat sheet. Start a note on your phone with all the important details about your interview: the building address, the time, the hiring manager’s name, three key points you want to get across, your questions, and anything else you don’t want to forget. Read it over just before you leave and if possible, again before you’re called in to your interview meeting.
Be physically prepared.
Get a good night’s rest before your interview. Eat a healthy breakfast, lunch or snack before you go in.
- Have a banana so you don’t go bananas! The combination of tryptophan, potassium and beta blockers in bananas naturally calms the nerves. There is some debate on this point, but it’s a light, healthy snack, so it couldn’t hurt.
- For a little pre-interview endorphin rush, hit the gym or go for a run. Even 15 minutes on your yoga mat or a walk around the block can put you in the right frame of mind and at a calm, comfortable level for the rest of the big day.
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