Don't let interview jitters get the best of you. Here's how to prepare and overcome your fears.
For most people, landing an interview is as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. At some point after the initial thrill wears off, there's a good chance that you'll start to feel a little nervous. But don't worry – with the right preparation, it is possible to calm your nerves and ace that interview. Next time, consider these recommendations to prepare yourself for success – both physically and mentally.
Practice makes perfect.
Although it's not possible to predict exactly what you'll be asked, most interviewers do rely on some old favorite questions. After all, what interviewee has never been asked to talk about their strengths and weaknesses or to tell the interviewer a little bit about themselves?
Ideally, you should already know how you'll answer questions like these when you go into your interview. However, you don't want to sound too well-rehearsed, as though you're reciting your answers from memory. In other words, the challenge is to be prepared, but not sound too prepared. The best way to accomplish this is to jot down a couple of talking points for each potential interview question, and then practice the general ideas you want to discuss rather than memorizing specific phrases. You might want to dig out some index cards to quiz yourself, writing the interview question on one side and your talking points on the other.
When you feel like you have your talking points down, ask a friend to give you a mock interview by reading the questions on the cards at random. Give each answer as though you were in a real interview. Practice using this mock interviewing technique until you feel confident and well-prepared, but not so long that you start to sound like a broken record.
Bring what you'll need
Whenever you interview, you should always bring three things, at a minimum: something to write with, something to write on, and at least one copy of the same resume you used to apply for the position. However, it's also a great idea to bring any other notes that you might find helpful. Having the information you need at your fingertips can help you to reduce interview anxiety and feel more confident, even if you don't need to refer to it.
Here are some examples of written notes or materials you might want to bring along:
A brief summary of your background research about the company.
Specific ideas you have for addressing the unique challenges of the position.
A list of questions you would like to ask during the interview.
It might be tempting to bring a lot of extra information – for example, a list of the talking points you came up with for common interview questions – but sticking to the basics will help you to find the information you're looking for when you need it.
You might also find it helpful to use a highlighter or colored pen to mark specific details in your resume that you want to bring up – for example, the accomplishments that you are most proud of or the job title(s) that are most relevant to the position you're interviewing for.
Don't leave anything to chance
There are a lot of things that could go wrong on the day of your interview, but the good news is that you can avoid many of these potential problems by planning ahead. As soon as you schedule your interview, begin working out the details in order to maximize your chances of success. Once the logistics are covered, you'll be able to focus on the interview itself rather than worrying about what might go wrong.
Start by getting your outfit ready – especially if you haven't interviewed in a while. Try the whole outfit on and make sure you can stand, walk, sit, and bend comfortably. Make sure it is clean and free of wrinkles and odors, and store it safely in a location where it will stay that way.
Next, make sure you know where you're going and how to get there. If possible, go to the location a day or two before the interview to see what the building looks like and figure out where you can park. Make sure to leave plenty of time in case you get lost, get caught in traffic, or can't find parking.
Take care of your body
Job interview preparation is almost as grueling physically as it is mentally. Stress often manifests in physical ways, but you can take steps to prevent these effects.
The night before your interview, try to pamper yourself. Consider taking a nice hot bath, listening to music, or drinking tea. Think about what helps you to relax and try to incorporate this into your interview preparation routine.
No matter what, make sure to get a good night's sleep. Not only will this help you to look your best, it will help to keep you mentally sharp and allow you to think more clearly and speak more eloquently. When you wake up on the big day, make sure to eat a hearty breakfast with plenty of protein to keep you going strong.
The word “meditation” might bring to mind images of monks kneeling for hours at a time. But meditation doesn't require any special equipment or hours of focus, and you don't have to be a monk in order to experience the benefits of meditating.
Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and calm your nerves. There are many ways to practice meditation, and no right or wrong way to do it. If you've never meditated before, try these steps:
Find a quiet, relaxing spot where you won't be interrupted. Some people find an outdoor location to be ideal, but you can meditate inside, too.
When you're seated comfortably, close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold your breath for a moment, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. You might find it easier to focus on your breathing if you count each inhale and exhale, or you might prefer to just maintain awareness of your breath. Let go of any distracting thoughts, feelings, or worries and just focus on your breath.
After a few minutes or so, you should begin to feel calmer and less nervous. Once you feel that your mind is clear, you might wish to spend some time visualizing positive outcomes, such as having a great interview experience or receiving a job offer.
Meditation can be a helpful tool for calming your mind before an interview, but it has also been shown to have powerful long-term benefits when practiced regularly.
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