Anxiety is ok. It happens to everyone. No one will go through life without at various stages succumbing to feelings of anxiety about work, life, sport or indeed interviewing.
Anxiety is a normal human reaction and an important one. It can alert us of the need to respond or deal with something, it is part of a general bodily reaction needed for survival.
But whilst normal, anxiety can also sometimes be debilitating. It can rob us of our wits and in some cases it can even develop into a disorder.
I regularly am asked how to deal with interview related anxiety and it is something that many find difficult to talk about. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes, “secret” tips or ancient remedies that can resolve this for you (not that I’m aware of) but there are steps you can take to mitigate pre interview anxiety.
In a previous life I was a successful athlete and learning to deal with nerves and anxiety was the difference between finishing 1st or 10th. The one thing I learned was that training hard and showing up prepared made a huge difference in terms of the potential impact of nerves. Similarly, the most important aspect to managing stress levels going into an interview is to know that you have done a fairly thorough interview preparation and you are well armed with examples, facts and achievements.
If the company you are interviewing with has a website, look it over and try and see what the office / environment is like. Try and find profiles of the people you are meeting. Get as much visual information as you can, and then imagine yourself in the interview answering a question. I often ask people if they can remember having an argument and afterwards they thought of the perfect thing to say. As part of interview preparation I tell them to think of a perfect answer to a question and with as much visual information as possible to see themselves delivering that to a positive response.
When in the interview and beforehand, think back to these sensations and allow this positivity to be the overwhelming sensation.
Keep breathing! Breathing contributes to how we can make ourselves calmer and more relaxed and learning to manually relax your breathing is a useful means to take the edge of anxiety and prevent it’s build up becoming problematic. In an interview if you find yourself feeling tense, you feel a tightness in your shoulders or a lack of clarity in your thought then take a moment and just relax your breathing. A pause will not be remembered after an interview nor will it score against you so don’t hesitate to give yourself a chance to catch your breath so to speak!
An interview is not adversarial. You are meeting with people that have a problem. They are understaffed and maybe they are turning down work they can’t complete due to staffing issues. They want you to be good and as a business owner I can tell you that staffing is one of the biggest challenges and road blocks to growth.
The desire of everyone there is for you to succeed and understanding that they completely expect you to be anxious is something that helps many people to mitigate that anxiety. Realising an equal or better opportunity may be around the corner if this one doesn’t pan out is also important. A disappointing interview is not something to be feared and Ireland is full of hugely successful people that have at some stage walked out of an interview wondering where it all went wrong. It’s not the end of the world and a few days afterwards it will be out of your mind.
Anxiety despite its negative connotations is a normal reaction and like many parts of our makeup it is controllable in many positive ways. There are good resources online that discuss anxiety in more detail and which have been put together by trained professionals and I would encourage anyone that feels anxiety is preventing them from achieving their goals to look these up.
Four Steps to Managing anxiety was written by Robert Connolly, Director Amicus recruitment.