With our careers, as in our lives, our greatest fear can be fear itself. Anxiety frequently sabotages interviews, preventing even the most qualified professionals from thriving. The following tips will help you minimize fear, maximize confidence, and get you your dream job:
One of the easiest ways to reduce anxiety both before and during a stressful event is to focus your breathing. Take deep breaths through your nose and into your belly; inhale until your belly is full; then exhale slowly through your mouth. Make sure to practice this method regularly prior to the interview so that you will be able to do it without thinking.
Dwelling too much on the interview before it happens will only exacerbate anxiety. Once you are fully prepared, consider watching a movie, reading a book, chatting with a friend, or otherwise distracting yourself from the stressful event ahead.
Working out reduces anxiety in both the short and long terms. Regular exercise reduces stress and keeps your body healthy, lowering the risk of chronic anxiety. In the short term, exercise tires you out, relieves stress, and reduces fear. Of course, you do not want to be sweaty or exhausted during the interview, but even mild exercises like walking or stretching will keep fear and stress at bay.
In addition to positive anxiety coping tactics, you also must know what not to do. Try not to consume much caffeine or alcohol in the 24 hours prior to the interview. Avoid interactions with people who cause you stress, and do not stay up late the night before. The better you are at avoiding harmful behaviors, the more effective your coping strategies will be.
Assemble all documents that could possibly help during the interview, including your CV, letters of recommendation, and any visual aids that will demonstrate your accomplishments. Not only will you be less anxious about preparation, but you can use the documents to remember what to talk about and reinforce your points; the risk that you will misspeak or leave something out will be lower, further reducing your anxiety.
Have a friend conduct a simulated interview before the real one. Not only will this help you practice your answers, but it will also make you more accustomed to the interview environment, causing you to feel more comfortable and less anxious.
Deal With Distractions
The flexibility of a phone interview is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you are free to speak from whatever location is best for you. On the other, you are responsible for choosing a location with no loud sounds or distractions. If you fail to avoid disruptions on your end, the interviewer will blame you for poor planning, making you less likely to get the job. So, before you begin a phone interview, find a quiet location where you will not be disturbed.
Consider Call Quality
In addition to seeking silence, you must also give the interview from a location with reliable phone service. As with distractions, the interviewer may interpret a poor signal as evidence that you did not plan ahead. Thus do everything you can to ensure that your phone service is as reliable as possible. If you cannot find reliable service, let your interviewer know ahead of time and suggest alternatives, such as conducting the interview over Skype or Google Hangout.
Have Research Ready
Research is critical for any interview, yet candidates often assume that if they are not giving the interview in person, they can look up facts as they need them. Conducting your research on the fly, however, means that you will not have time to absorb and interpret it properly. Worse yet, if you pause after each question to look up information, your interviewer will view you as unprepared. Instead, research all the facts ahead of time and make a list of everything you need to know so you can quickly consult your notes.
Seek Intelligent Speech
“Ums”, “uhs”, “likes”, and “you knows”; reflect informal, unfocused speech. They don’t belong in any interview, but you are particularly likely to slip into them over the phone, especially if you’re speaking from your house or some other casual location. You must be especially vigilant against casual phrasings. Consider practicing with a friend before the interview; have them ask you generic employment questions and alert you every time you stumble over the answer.
Positivity is as important in phone interviews as it is in person, but because the interviewer cannot see your face, it is harder to communicate it. One trick to give your voice a positive sound is to smile while you are speaking. Even though the other party will not see it, smiling is a catalyst for other happy habits, including an upbeat, excited pattern of speech. Smiling will also make you feel happier, helping you to remain calm in the face of a high-stakes interview.
Take notes throughout the interview, writing down every key fact about the job and organization. This will help you stay focused and remember everything the interviewer says; you can thus avoid asking for clarification, which may convince the interviewer that you weren’t paying attention. You will also remember any steps you need to take after the interview.
Q and A Session
In addition to simulating the interview, think of questions you are likely to be asked and write down your answers. This will help you focus your thoughts, making you more certain about what you need to say and less anxious of making a mistake. You can also bring the answers to the interview.
Though many of these tips are likely to reduce fear and stress, addressing anxiety is ultimately an individual matter. The key is to find a strategy that works for you, follow it, and preserve your mental health throughout your career.