Anthia Christodoulou Theofilou talks about the “anticipation stress”. If you are preparing for a major professional interview, you may be experiencing the familiar “anticipation stress”, for either several days prior or even shortly before entering the interview room. This kind of stress, if severe, may undermine our performance during the interview. And resulting in an unpleasant outcome for us.
There is no reason to blame yourself. As most people admit that job interviews are among the most stressful experiences in life. While a moderate level of stress can be beneficial as it can motivate someone to prepare well or to approach the interview with zest /zeal. And eventually do well, excessive stress always has adverse effects on our mental and physical health.
The good news is that there are ways to manage stress, keeping it in check and not being disrupted by it. Below are a few suggestions.
Spend enough time to prepare for the interview to feel more confident. For example, look for information about the company that is interviewing you. Prepare in advance answers to basic questions and ask someone to help you with a mock interview. Practice enough until your words are spontaneous. Keep in mind that, in the interview, if you are asked about something you don’t know, you can just answer “I don’t know” rather than answering something irrelevant and feeling exposed.
Make a list of all your qualifications
List all your accomplishments, including anything you feel happy about or proud of, e.g. academic qualifications, accomplishments, work experience, skills, talents and other achievements. You can also include personal traits that you consider important and recognizable. Read this list several times. Also remember that to be invited for an interview your qualifications have been acknowledged as a potential fit for the job.
Draw on positive past experiences
Think of a similar past experience that, while you have had a lot of stress, you have done well. Such as a presentation or speech, oral examination or other form of assessment or social interaction.
Emotional purification exercise
You can do a nice act for yourself and a simple exercise to get rid of the negative emotional burden from past experiences that weakened you and caused strong feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy and inferiority. You can quote three or more things you are sorry about, followed by at least three which you are happy about and then end with a “I love you” to yourself.
– I am sorry for… the aggression I experienced from my high school peers, the insults I received from X, my bad separation from Y etc.
– Thanks for… my achievements, my personal development, my knowledge, my self-knowledge, my patience, my perseverance, my determination to continue despite all the difficulties I have encountered etc.
– I love you… (your name).
Take a very good care of yourself
During preparation and anticipation, be sure to have enough refuelling breaks during which you can:
– Eat a nutritious snack and have a drink of your choice before returning back to your preparation with a fresh mind.
– Have a small musical break listening to your favourite song while sitting in an armchair.
– Rest enough by taking a nap.
– Apply a brief mindfulness technique: Look out of the window. Concentrate on the details of the view, the sounds, and your bodily sensations. This exercise will bring you back from the future interview related stress to the present moment where things are simple, beautiful and relaxed like the landscape outside your window.
– Take part in stress reducing activities, e.g. sports that you enjoy, reading a book, playing with your pet, painting, cooking / baking, creative writing, knitting, riding a car or motorcycle (with attention to speed! ), sex, etc.
Laughter reduces anxiety, strengthens the immune system and helps in good blood circulation. In the evening before the interview you can watch comedy films or series, read anecdotes or meet friends with humour that make you laugh.
What you can do shortly before the interview
Repeat the exercise of emotional purification.
Read the list of your qualifications and strengths many times.
Try this short relaxation training:
- Easy to implement by yourself and quickly effective, this relaxation exercise can relieve you from anxiety and stress before the interview. All you need to do is inhale from the nose, make a short pause, before exhaling from the mouth. By adding a relaxing phrase and visualization, the effect becomes even more pronounced.
- Application: Inhale from the nose counting up to 3. Hold the breath and pause counting up to 4. Finally exhale by counting up to 6. The goal is to reduce exhalations. When we are stressed we breathe quickly, which stresses the body even more. Also add a mentally relaxing phrase at the time of exhalation, for example, while exhaling think of the phrase “I’m relaxed”. The exercise will be even more effective if you add a mental image. As you exhale, while thinking “I am relaxed”, at the same time, visualise yourself being relaxed. This exercise does not take more than five minutes.
- Use the human ability of visualisation to your advantage by creating funny images that eliminate stress and transform an experience from stressful into entertaining. For example, imagine that you are a giant entering the interview room, or that those who are interviewing you are with their underwear or swimsuits. Let your imagination go crazy!
Watch Body Language:
- The first ten seconds of a meeting are particularly important because in this short time you can subconsciously form a first view of someone. In this first impression, body language is responsible and in a professional interview it is important that while entering the room you are confident and direct without overdoing it. Keep a straight confident stance, and offer your hand by making a warm shake with a smile. During the interview, keep good eye contact.
Finally, think about “What’s the worst that can happen”? Remind yourself that not doing on well on this one is never the end of the world. You will have other opportunities along the way because the flow of life, like a river cannot stop.
The article by Anthia Christodoulou Theofilou
Anthia Christodoulou Theofilou
Anthia works in private practice as a psychologist, counsellor, psychotherapist and life coach at the personal development and self-awareness centre GIA TIN ITHAKI which she also directs. She takes part in TV shows, gives lectures and workshops and writes articles educating the public on psychological issues. She is also a creative writer, has already published a book with short stories and is currently working on a novel.