Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, even for the most confident of people. Your mouth is dry, but your palms are sweaty. Your limbs are shaky and your voice is hoarse. Basically, you’re Eminem at the start of 8 Mile.
What’s happening is that your body is releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (AKA adrenaline). These can make it difficult for you to think clearly. Hardly ideal. It’s your body’s much-vaunted fight-or-flight response kicking in.
The problem is that the slow process of evolution hasn’t had time to catch up to our modern lives. Our brain doesn’t distinguish one type of stress from another, so we react to a job interview in the same way as we would to facing off with a tiger. Unless you are interviewing at a circus, it’s not all that helpful. In fact, it’s exasperating: your mind and body let you down at this most important of moments. Luckily for you, we’ve got a full list of tips on how to combat stress.
Skip the coffee
If you’re going to be nervous anyway, ramping yourself up with caffeine isn’t the answer. Try a cup of tea instead. I’m biased because I’m British, but the science backs me up.
For an added bonus, tea also contains L-theanine, which reduces stress and helps you relax. Milk and no sugar, please.
Leave the house early
Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the interview. If you arrive in a rush, you’ll automatically be more stressed. Aim to arrive early but don’t go straight in. Wait outside or in the car to catch your breath and collect your thoughts. Head inside 10 minutes before the time your interview is scheduled for.
If you are using public transport, be sure to calculate a bit of delay into your expected travel time. On the way there, you can read the news to keep your mind off possible worst-case scenarios. This has the added benefit of giving you potential talking points for the interview.
If you do arrive in a rush or feeling a bit flustered, head to the loo and dab some cold water on your wrists and behind your ears. This cools the blood and helps to avoid the dreaded sweaty handshake scenario – at least from your side.
It’s also a good idea to use the toilet while you’re in there. Anxiety can make you need the loo more often than you normally do. So go beforehand and save yourself the embarrassment of asking to be excused.
It’s not uncommon to have a little waiting time before you are shown into the interview and you can use this to calm yourself down if you are feeling stressed-out. Breathe three seconds in and three seconds out through your nose and repeat this three times (three is a magic number). This lowers your heart rate, physically calming you.
As an added bonus, having slowed your heart rate, it’s also less likely that you’ll talk too fast when the interview starts.
Clench your bum
No, this isn’t to make the interviewer fancy you. If you’re so nervous that you’re trembling, clench your buttocks or thigh muscles. This makes it nearly physically impossible to tremble.
Sit up like your mum taught you
If you square your shoulders and sit up straight, you’ll appear confident even if your insides are jelly. Remember, interviewers can’t see how nervous you’re feeling, only how you look and act. Your voice will also project better with a proper posture.
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