Do you think Wonder Woman ever gets nervous? I mean, the daughter of Zeus with sweaty palms and palpitations? And those cuffs? But seriously, think about it. Sure, she has mad skills and powers but at somepoint she leaves the safety of her Amazon island to walk and work among mere mortals. There has to be a wild learning curve where she figures out how humans operate, manage her powers, and find out if and how she fits into the world. Okay, we admit the analogy might be a bit of a stretch, but we’re hoping to show you that even Wonder Women probably has moments of uncertainty, doubt and anxiety. There are few occasions more stress-inducing than a job interview. Walking into that great unknown may drive fear into your heart and trigger butterflies to take flight in your stomach. For some, the anxiety can be debilitating. Anyone who tells you their heart rate doesn’t go up even a little is either untruthful or that rare breed of human who enjoys bungee jumping and sky diving. Assuming you’re like the majority of us who find it challenging to put ourselves out there to be judged, here are some tips to help you manage the emotional rollercoaster that is the job interview.
1. embrace your fears.
Yup, you heard correctly. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling anxious; you need that mental energy elsewhere. Understand that it’s natural and 100% human to feel anxious about a job interview. There’s a lot on the line. Someone is going to evaluate you top to bottom and scrutinize everything you do and say. Anxiety is part of our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism that prepares us to face the unknown or exercise our limbs in escaping. The adrenaline that’s produced may cause our mouths to go dry and our heart rates to ratchet up, but it also sharpens our senses, makes us more alert and helps us perform better.
2. prepare, prepare and prepare some more.
We’ve talked a lot about preparation being one of the most important contributors to a successful interview. And we’ll say it again. Preparation is your best ally in combating your fears during an interview. Preparation distracts you from the fear monologue running on a loop in your head and allows you to focus on important details you want to take with you into the room.
If you’re a person who has nervous habits or tics under duress, preparation will enable you to control them. Practice what to do with your hands so you don’t twist your hair or pick your cuticles. Rehearse your responses aloud to eliminate um's, uh's and the dreaded ‘like.’ Remember, a brief of silence actually comes across as thoughtful and intelligent! Don’t rush to fill silence just because.
Knowing you have a solid foundation of information, practiced responses to potential questions, and control over your nervous habits will increase your confidence. Actors depend on the rehearsal process to ensure their confidence on opening night and breathing techniques to control their nerves and help them focus. Wonder Woman didn’t become Wonder Woman overnight; there had to be some practice and preparation involved.
3. think positive.
This isn’t just a new age mantra; hard science is creating links between outlook and outcome. Self-fulfilling prophesies are real! Studies show negative thoughts are paralyzing; they narrow our focus and shut off our ability to think and act in a big picture way (part of the aforementioned ‘fight or flight’ response.) Conversely, positive thoughts help us see possibilities and options, which lead to developing and mastering new skills, increasing our potential for success.
Consider changing your internal monologue to include positive affirmations; create a mental picture where you’re relaxed in the interview and conversation is flowing. Practice meditative or yoga breathing; it’s hard to feel anxious when you’re deep breathing slowly and steadily. Plug your earbuds in and listen to upbeat positive music on your way to the interview.
4. find perspective.
No one goes on an interview because they’re ambivalent about a job (or at least we hope so!) The stakes are usually pretty high. That said, manage your own expectations during the job search and interview process. In other words, don’t trump up the significance of the interview in your head. While it’s important and might even be the job of your dreams, it’s not the last opportunity in the world. If it doesn’t go perfectly, there will be other opportunities. In fact, we’re willing to bet there will be lots of them!
No matter how desperate you feel, avoid taking that desperation into the interview with you. You want to appear enthusiastic, not needy. At its worst, the interview will provide an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your interview strengths and weaknesses (so next time, you’ll be even better). At best, you’ll be fielding offers.
5. fake it until you make it.
Instead of waiting to feel confident (which never works, trust us) act like you are. Confidence is an attitude, not a feeling. Throw your shoulders back, make eye contact and offer a firm handshake. Surprisingly, studies show that behaviours precede emotions. So if you’re not feeling confident, suck it up and act like you are, because it’ll lead to real confidence.
If you want to be Wonder Woman, behave like Wonder Woman. It’s hard to feel small and insignificant when you plant your feet firmly and confidently on the ground, put your hands on your hips, and stand tall and strong. Pretend your way to confidence until you’re actually feeling confident. It’ll come sooner than you think.
A good interviewer wants you to succeed and understands the whole interview process is anxiety provoking. They’re not looking to sabotage you even as they’re observing how you operate under pressure. Remember, before they had their job, they had to interview, too.