Thursday, December 13, 2007

During An Interview - Nerves

Nerves – Yep love them or hate them we all have them and they apply to everything we do in life – whether it’s a new job, a date, going to the dentist or being reprimanded. What are nerves? Well they are your bodies’ way of dealing with stress usually caused by a fear of the unknown, your body putting up a protective barrier to help you deal with the unknown. Symptoms include; dry mouth, shaky hands, sweating, thumping heart, faintness, feeling like you need to go to the bathroom – sound familiar! Everyone is nervous when attending a job interview – after all you are doing all this because you want to get that new job. Your body is releasing chemical called adrenalin which assists you in focusing your mind completely on the situation that you are dealing with. The secret is being able to manipulate and control your frame of mind and use that adrenalin to your advantage and not let it take over completely.
How Can I Control My Nerves?

The secret to controlling your nerves is to convince your brain that you have little to worry about. The reality is that we all get ourselves worked up far too much in the first place – we convince ourselves that we are going to under perform or embarrass ourselves beyond belief. After all I am sure you will have been in many situations where you have been a nervous wreck and once the situation is over (like at the end of an interview or coming out of the dentists) felt the overwhelming experience of calmness. Yes this is caused by your body relaxing and the adrenalin ceasing. So how can you combat this? Well it is really simple - all you need to do is be prepared and calm yourself and the nerves, to a degree, will be far less. I am sure you will have heard of the term “Mind Over Matter” well it is true. The brain and body are complicated things, you can convince yourself of anything if you want to and this can have a negative as well as positive outcome. So to deal with this issue and put your mind at rest (hence reducing your nervousness) it’s always a good idea to try and address the areas you need to deal with where you feel you will be an absolute failure if things go badly wrong. So lets just look at the major areas:
Drinks - should you or shouldn’t you? As I have mentioned before if you are offered a drink, be it tea, coffee or water and you think you are suddenly going to have an explosive fit and chuck your cup three foot in the air then don’t accept one. The only exception I can recommend here is Water. The reason being is that if you have a glass of water no one is going to notice if you did or didn’t drink it. However if you get stuck for something to say when asked a difficult question or you find your mouth is getting irritably dry it’s a good excuse to take a sip. While it doesn’t buy you a great deal of time it does give you chance to pause and reflect on the question a few moments before you give an answer.

Awkward Questions – Well unless you have a crystal ball you are not going to know what questions you are going to be asked at your interview. However if you know anything about the job then you can have a good second guess at what sort of questions are likely to come up and figure out some answers accordingly. Just remember how it was when you sat exams at school – you didn’t know which questions were going to come up so you revised all of them. Again as previously mentioned if there is a discrepancy in your CV and you think it may be an issue then try and think of an appropriate answer – don’t just ignore it and think to yourself “I hope they don’t mention that” – be prepared it will take the worry.
Shaky Hands! – Well I have to admit I always get shaky hands (and I am sure I am not alone on this issue!). There is no real definitive way of dealing with shaky hands really the only thing you can do is keep them under control by placing one hand on top of the other and keeping them on your lap. As you gain confidence throughout the interview and your mind drifts away from the issue you will find that the shaking will naturally ease and it should no longer prove a problem.

Dropping Or Tripping Over Your Briefcase Or Handbag – Come on, there’s absolutely no need to be clinging onto that briefcase or handbag. Place them on the floor (under your chair preferably) that way you aren’t going to drop them or fall over them when you get up! If you need a pen and paper (and it’s always good to have one) take them out of your attaché at the start of the meeting

Fear Of Sneezing or Having a Runny Nose – Again it all comes down to being prepared, make sure you take a handkerchief or tissue and have it somewhere accessible. It’s no good locked in your handbag or briefcase, place it in your pocket so you can get at it quickly should you need to.
Make Life Easier For Yourself At The Interview:

Now I am not trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs but the night before your interview try and get a good nights sleep. Eat your evening meal earlier than usual and go to bed a bit earlier. Don’t go out on the lash with your mates until 2.00 am in the morning or for a curry or other meal that gives off a strong smelling after odour. As you will no doubt be aware garlic smells dreadful the next day and will ooze out of your pores for a good 24 hours after eating it so try and steer clear of meals that include this. Also alcohol stays in the blood stream for a fair while and you don’t want to be turning up at your new job interview feeling hung over and tired. If you are worried about your breath smelling then eat a mint before you go into the interview or use a menthol spray, you can but little handy ones from the chemist which will fit in your pocket.

On the morning of the interview (if the interview is in the morning) try and have some breakfast, I know it’s difficult to eat on a stomach that’s turning around faster that a washing machine on a full cycle spin, but food is for the brain and it will help you keep your mind on the job. Besides which if you don’t eat and have an empty stomach it is very likely that you will experience that intensely dreadful sickly feeling. If you have an interview during the afternoon see if you can catch an early lunch or if the interview is early evening try and eat a decent breakfast and catch a late lunch. Ideally you don’t want to eat more than two hours before the start of the interview to give your body the chance to digest your food.

If you are really strung out and feeling uptight just before your job interview begins then you can always try some breathing exercises. Now I am no therapist but I always find that breathing in deep breaths through your nose, holding it in for a few seconds and breathing out through your mouth helps. My doctor told me to try this when I was a bit younger and had problems dealing with stress and it seems to work for me to help me relax. Try and think happy thoughts whether they are about your children, your wife, husband, partner or whatever but try and think of something that makes you smile. It takes far more muscles to make you frown than it does to make you smile and using this technique you will automatically begin to feel the element of wellbeing. It will also temporarily take your mind off the situation ahead which will ease your stress and worry. When you get into the interview and are seated try and relax and get comfortable, I don’t mean slouch in the chair, but try and pick a position where you are not all screwed up like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Being comfortable will help relax all of your muscles including your legs, abdomen and chest ultimately making your breathing more relaxed. During your interview make sure you listen to each question posed to you properly, don’t try and think of an answer while your interviewer is still asking the question.

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