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Avoiding Interview Stress

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

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Interview preparation

After the excitement of being asked for an interview you really hoped for has settled, you may well find yourself worrying about a myriad of things that could go wrong. The mind is very clever at imagining all sorts of scary scenarios that can ramp up the pre-interview nerves and even lead to panic attacks and insomnia. There are several ways to calm these fears and find a confident approach to the big day ahead. Partly it is about tackling your thoughts and your perspective and partly it is about getting practical things prepared.

Practical Preparation

1. Research the company. Consider aspects like: how big the company is, how it’s divided up, who their customers are, and who their main competitors are – as well as any recent developments or plans within the company. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to add value to the conversation, whilst showing a genuine interest in what they do. Finding out who your interviewer(s) will be and researching their roles within the organisation will additionally help to reduce surprises on the big day. You can look these up on the company website, or try finding them on LinkedIn.

2. Read the job description. When it comes to interview preparation, the job description is your best friend. Not only will a thorough examination of the duties and required personal qualities help you to understand more about what the role entails – it’ll also help you to recognise exactly what the employer is looking for.

Then, you can tailor your answers accordingly – coming up with tangible examples that prove you’re the best candidate for the role.

3. Write things down. Unfortunately, you can’t predict every interview question that’ll come up. So instead of relying solely on memorised answers, prepare an additional list of your most relevant skills, attributes, and work experience. Each question you address will be an opportunity to provide some of this information to the interviewer. That way, you can get be sure you’ll get your most suitable qualities across – even if the specific questions you were hoping for don’t come up.

4. The day before the interview. The last thing you need on the day of your interview is time stress so here are a few useful things to do the day before:

• Pick your outfit and try it on

• Find a map of the location

• Do a trial run to check the journey time

• Put important information into a folder (e.g. your CV, portfolio, certificates, or any other examples of your work and/or qualifications)

• Read and review the research you’ve done

Mental Preparation

1. Change your perspective. Try to compare it to something else in the past that you’ve done that was as big and important to you. Remind yourself that this will not be the first or the last opportunity of this kind that you’ll encounter. You can also reframe the event in your mind. Instead of viewing it as an all-important interview, think of it as an exciting chance to meet new people and expand your network. You never know what will happen!

2. Visualise a positive outcome. Close your eyes and imagine a scene, place or event that is peaceful, serene, happy and/or beautiful. Try to incorporate all your senses into the image – what you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Now imagine your interview being just as easy and relaxed. Visualise the conversation going well, the people being kind and friendly, a warm inviting environment. By imagining the outcome in a positive way you will build up confidence and replace any negative pictures in your mind with positive ones.

3. Challenge your thoughts with affirmations. Observe your thoughts and write down every time you have a negative thought for a few days. Once you are aware of your negative thoughts, take an honest look at them to see if they have any basis in reality. Frequently, when you challenge a negative thought it will lose power or disappear. You can also replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Make yourself a list of positive things to say to yourself each morning and evening about the interview. Post it on the bathroom mirror and say them aloud. Try to repeat throughout the day whenever possible. Habits don’t happen immediately (experts say it takes 60 days to make it a habit) so be patient with yourself.


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