Job searching is a difficult process because job seekers submit themselves to the judgment of others. They literally seek others’ seal of approval and rely on them for crucial decisions that will affect their future.
The interview stage in the job hunt process is particularly stressful. This stage is especially difficult to handle because it requires human interaction. Most people writing their resumes and cover letters do so in the comfort of their own homes or hire professionals to do it for them. They do not have the “pressure” of facing others or living up to expectations… on the spot. Should they be rejected, that will come in the form of a refusal letter, an e-mail, or a “no response.”
In contrast to the above, interviewing forces job seekers to step outside of their comfort zone, attend events or meetings in person, and put themselves on the line. The fear of behaving foolishly or disappointing others is at the root of the stress that most people feel. That fear is compounded by the fact that many job seekers are at a point in their life where they have low self-confidence, whether because they are unemployed or because they are unhappy where they are.
In light of that, what steps can people take to manage their stress level? Following is a list of simple actions you can take in order to improve your chance of success by reducing your stress level during interviews.
Gather as much information as possible on the interview process in order to have a better understanding of what you will be facing. As you gather information, you will gain a sense of control. Stress is caused in part by uncertainty. The more you reduce the uncertainty, the less stress you will feel.
Prepare a list of interview questions you expect to be asked and decide how to answer them. Don’t memorize answers as this will actually increase your stress level. On the day of the interview, you don’t want to have to worry about remembering answers. On the contrary, you want to look as natural as possible. Remember, the way you convey your answers is as important as the substance of your answers.
Another issue you may want to consider is what if you are asked a question that you did not prepare for? Memorizing definitely cannot help you there. That being said, being alert and knowing what to say is more important than remembering what to say.
Choose what you are going to wear beforehand so you don’t have to worry about that the day of the interview. Also, don’t forget to check the weather and to dress accordingly.
Plan your interview day. Planning allows us to find the best path to achieve our objectives. Plan for the predictable and the unpredictable. Tell yourself that if everything went according to what we expect, we wouldn’t need planning. We need to plan ahead because the future cannot be predicted.
Visualize your interview day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you conclude the interview. This is part of the planning stage and will make you feel like you are not doing what you’re doing for the first time. By visualizing your day, you will acquire a kind of automatism so that you won’t need to think of what to do next; you will just know.
Dress simple and carry as little accessories as possible. Only bring with you what you need, so you don’t have to worry about carrying things along, looking clumsy, or losing things on your way.
Choose your mode of transportation wisely. Be especially careful about the weather and the traffic. If your interview is at 5:30 p.m. downtown, you might want to take public transit.
Arrive early so you can have a few minutes to yourself before the interview starts. You want to be in the right state of mind when you greet the interviewer or enter the interview room. Arriving late will prevent you from putting your thoughts together.
Schedule your interview wisely. If possible, schedule your interview in the morning so you can get it over and done with. You might be tired in the afternoon or something might happen during the day that might affect your state of mind.
Be positive. If you think negative, you will have a tendency to worry and this will increase your stress level.
Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else.
Immerse yourself in the “conversation” as opposed to only “answering questions.” Focus is the answer to stress. As you focus on the conversation you are having, you will forget about your stress.
Put things in perspective. It’s only a job interview, not a life or death kind of situation, so relax! If you don’t get the job there, you will have another chance somewhere else.
To summarize, the key to managing stress during the interview is to make the day as uneventful as possible so you can put all your attention in making the best impression. Managing stress is about preparation, planning, and positive thinking.