We have all felt stress at some point in our live. Stress is a natural response and is something us humans are built to respond to and deal with. Unfortunately, the responses we are good at relate to physical stress such as being chased by predators or hunting for our food, not the mental type of stress we have now, such as finding mortgage payments, juggling family commitments and interviews. No caveman ever worried about a psychometric test!
So how do we bring stress under control? By managing these three things:
How we perceive our situation is a really important indicator of how stressed we actually feel. Have you ever experienced a situation where you are expecting awful news only to receive slight bad news? Even though the situation is still bad, you feel relieved and less stressed because it wasn’t what you first perceived.
The less control we believe we have, the greater our stress response. It is interesting to note that we don’t necessarily need to have the ability to control the situation, rather just believe we can. A way to exercise this perception of control in an interview is to be prepared and to see the interview as a two-way process. Interviews are an opportunity to showcase your talents and the interviewers aren’t deliberately trying to catch you out.
If you knew the outcome of your interview, how much difference would this make to your stress levels? Obviously, this is a difficult, if not impossible, task for most people! Some career book authors have suggested that there are only 5 different types of questions interviewers can ask in one form or another, which, if true, tells us that with the right amount of research and preparation, an interviewee could increase the level of predictability.
So now we know what influences our stress levels, here are some top tips to help you to reduce your stress levels when preparing for interviews.
- Remember that interviews are a two way process. Employers are trying to find out as much information as possible about you, not watch you fail!
- Do your research! Find out information about the company and its industry but also focus on the types of questions relevant to the role for which you are applying. Consider what you want them to know about you.
- Do more research! Read about interviews; it has been said that there are a finite number of questions that can be asked in one way or another during an interview. Look online, read books check through the role profile. What skills or competencies do they think the role requires? These could be the basis for questions.
- Have confidence in yourself. Interview questions aren’t there to catch you out; they are there to showcase how fantastic you would be at the role. Believe you can do the role, be clear about how you could add to the role, and even if you aren’t feeling confident fake it! Wear your best outfit, spend time making you feel at your best, see tip 8!
- Ignore stress. How stressed we believe we are affects how stressed we feel. Interviews are stereotypically thought of as some kind of torture. Try fooling yourself; pretend that you are really confident or that you already have the job. You know that advice about imagining your audience naked….
- Know where you are going, give yourself time and prepare for issues transport or otherwise. On the day, your stress levels will thank you if you aren’t worrying about being late or lost.
- Practice – know what you want to say and practice saying it. Check your speed and tone by either recording yourself or practicing to friends or family.
- Pick an appropriate outfit, but one that gives you confidence and make you feel comfortable.
- Want the job! It’s great to have interview practice, but going for jobs you really don’t want will do nothing towards reducing stress levels.
- Ask for feedback. Knowing what to work on for next time helps to reduce interview stress next time.