How to Keep Your Cool During That Job Interview
You’ve researched the company and your answers to all of the most common interview questions until your eyes turned red. You’ve got some pertinent questions for the interviewer keyed up (always have questions!) and have even packed your running shoes, just in case. But despite knowing you’re primed and have totally got this, it’s still completely normal be nervous for a job interview. When there’s a lot riding on the outcome - no one likes being judged. Except, I guess those guys who go on Judge Judy (why are you letting the world know you stole a Hershey’s bar from 7-11 when you were 9?! Somethings are better left unsaid, babe.) voluntarily.
Try to remember: If a potential employer has already sifted through a stack of resumes, called you for a phone screening, then invited you in for an interview, it means you’re qualified (unless you lied about being a rocket scientist because you once made one from Mentos and a Coke bottle at home, please don’t do that). But knowing you’re a good candidate isn’t always enough to quell the butterflies, sweaty palms, and cracking voice.
So to help you out, I spoke with experts for tips on how to exude confidence and land the job - even if you inside you feel like Zuckerberg at a senate hearing.
Keep scrolling for expert-approved tips for staying Zen during a job interview...
Imagine the interview going well to increase your confidence before you set foot in the room. Carolyn Birsky, founder of the Massachusetts-based career coaching company Compass Maven, recommends taking 10 minutes to close your eyes and run-through the interview (BEFORE the interview of course, otherwise they might think you have narcolepsy). “Envision yourself speaking confidently, having fantastic answers to their questions, and asking informed questions yourself. Envision yourself remaining calm and showing your authentic self. Envision yourself moving on to the next round or getting an offer if it’s the final round,” she says. Basically, picture yourself having the self-assured composure of James Bond, but without killing or sexing anyone. This goes double for killing during the interview
Walk through every detail of how you want the interview to go and how you want to feel. “Spend less time stressing and go into it with a more positive mindset,” says Birsky.
Create a mantra for yourself
Think of a mantra that you can silently repeat if you get nervous during the interview. Leave ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ locked up at home somewhere, and choose something more positive such as, “I am calm,” or “I am confident,” or even “I’ll impress them,” says Birsky, noting that your mantra should always be in the present tense. “Structuring your mantra like this helps your brain and body to internalize it as true in the present moment, even if you don’t feel calm in the moment,” she says. Your body will catch up. So make note, repeating ‘in June 2013 I was awesome’ won’t help.
Practice deep, mindful breathing
There’s a reason people say to take a deep breath when you’re feeling overwhelmed, not because air tastes good, but because it works! “Arrive at the interview location early and take a few minutes to do this simple breathing exercise before it’s game time,” says Nancy Range Anderson, a career coach and founder of the New Jersey-based coaching company Blackbird Learning Associates.
Place a hand on your lower stomach, inhale deeply through your nose, feel your stomach rise, and exhale through your mouth. Anderson recommends counting to three during each inhale and exhale or silently saying the words “I am” with each inhale and “confident” which each exhale. (I’ve started doing this every day, TBH.) Buddhist monks have been doing it for thousands of year to great effect, and look at how calm they are, so learn from the masters.
Give your acupuncture points some TLC
You don’t need to pay your acupuncturist a visit to benefit from the practice. Anderson suggests rubbing the third eye. No - stop undoing your pants right now - the third eye is between your eyebrows. Rub here as well as your ears and earlobes for a few minutes before the interview. “Doing so will decrease stress and help you to feel more relaxed.”
Focus on your body language
Body language has the power of affecting both yourself and those around you. Try standing in the corner of a room facing the wall at a party and see how many friends you make. On the flip-side though, your body language can also elicit positive responses from others. Your confidence goes up if you exude it physically, and if you appear self-assured to others, they will believe it. “Sitting up straight signals to you and the interviewer that you are engaged,” says Anderson. It also helps avoid back-pain in later life, so two birds with one stone.
Instead of sitting with crossed arms, which can signal insecurity or guardedness, keep your arms in your lap, says Logan Jones PsyD, a New York City-based licensed clinical psychologist. “Take calming breaths to combat an awkward smile, sweaty hands, a trembly voice, or butterflies in your stomach,” Dr. Jones says. “Controlled breathing will help center you on the present.” Stay focused on the here and now, and you’ll be one step closer to the future you’ve always wanted.