How to Fight Interview Stress and Fright

Published: Dec 21, 2011

 Interviewing       Job Search       Networking       Resumes & Cover Letters       
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Although interviewing for a job can be frightfully stressful, it doesn't have to be. In fact, with proper preparation (researching the company you're interviewing with, the position your interviewing for, and the person or persons who will be conducting the interview) as well as the below three tips, interviewing can be as relaxing as having a Bud with a bud.

1. Run, stretch, lift.
If you've ever felt a runner's high, a yogi's high, or even the burn after a weightlifting workout, you know that your state of mind (as well as your body) is vastly different after your session of physical exertion than before: you're typically calmer, less anxious, and more likely to tell yourself that you feel "good." Of course, getting in a run, stretch, or workout might not be possible right before your interview (if, say, you already work another job, or you just don't have the time) but if you can find even 30 minutes in which to get physical on the day of your interview (perhaps first thing in the morning), and you only do something as blood-pumping as take a long walk in the park, you'll find that you're cooler, more collected, and less nervous when you're being asked about your strengths, weaknesses, and experience working in team environments.

2. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.
For many interviewees, interview stress reaches its apex the minutes and seconds right before their interview. Their heart starts to beat fast, their mind races, and they begin to sweat. At this point, if you, too, find your brow beginning to perspire, your palms moistening, and your interview moments away from beginning, remember this one little trick: to breathe. That is, focus on your breath; this, you will find, will calm your anxious mind, which will be unable to race if it's too busy paying attention to your body's involuntary inhaling and exhaling. In fact, focusing on your breath is a proven relaxation technique that's been used for centuries by men and women to calm the waves of their anxious minds, removing the second-guessing, fear-inducing internal dialogue that plagues us human beings, especially in times of imminently stressful situations. And, with practice, focusing on your breath can be used not only to combat interview fright, but other fears as well.

3. Listen, listen, listen.
Strassberg, Meisner, and other acting teaching greats knew and taught that "listening" is perhaps the most important part of any human interaction. And this goes for interviews as well. There's a big difference between waiting until your interviewer is finished speaking so you can recite lines that you've memorized, and actually listening to what your interviewer is saying before responding to his or her specific question. Of course, you definitely need to do your research and preparation for any interview, but it's equally or perhaps even more important to remember to pay very close attention to what your interviewer is asking during your interview and how he or she is asking each question. Only then will you be able to give an adequate response, not to mention enter into a real conversation with your interviewer (ideally, an interview should be more conversational than Q&A-like). Now, as for how listening can lessen your interview fright, if you've been asked to interview it means you're qualified for the job; the interview is simply a chance for the interviewer to see how you present yourself in person. And, chances are, if you can carefully listen to the questions being asked of you, answer them specifically, and, of course, truthfully, there will be very little, if anything at all, to fear.

--Derek Loosvelt