Tips to Overcome Stress Before the Interview

For many, the thought of being in a room for about an hour with interviewers can be nerve-wrecking. The uncertainty of the type of people you’ll meet, not knowing what questions will be asked, and other factors can cause stress in these moments. Other people, though, do just fine once they enter the room and meet their potential coworkers. It’s the moments leading up to it that can cause the most stress. If you’re like me, doing interviews and presentations can be just fine as soon as it starts. What can be really annoying is the time spent waiting for that moment.

Whether it’s days in advance, or hours left until, the anxiousness can start to rise. Leg bouncing incessantly, pacing nonstop, fidgeting and more can ensue. All that waiting can lead to questions of self-doubt, or frustration for wanting to get it over with. While everyone is different when it comes to dealing with stress, here are some ways that I handle the anxiousness for the moments leading up to that big interview.

Inhale, Exhale

That’s right, breathing is as simple as it can get. There have been times in the past, especially for presentations, where the nervousness can cause a slowness in breathing. Have I ever not breathed in such moments? Perhaps, but oddly I can never recall moments of fast-paced breathing unless it’s due to working out. As your mind and body become consumed by something else (in this case stress of interviews), it can focus less on other things in order to look more closely at what is present.

So for those of you who may catch yourself breathing faster or slower when it involves this stress, snap back into the present moment. Whether the big meeting is in an hour or two days from now, focus on what’s in front of you right now. Concentrate on that, remove any distracting thoughts, and carry on your way. And of course, breathe along the way. Huge, slow breaths really do work whenever I tried it.

Plan Ahead

You can never know what will happen the moment you leave those doors. Car problems might occur, heavy traffic on the roads, rain showers that can ruin your clothes, and a list of other wild things can make an already stressful time even worse. While I do believe in the notion that one should arrive to the interview 10-15 minutes early, my belief about when to arrive at the site is a bit different. Though it entirely depends on the situation, I’ve arrived close to the place of interview anywhere between 30-60 minutes ahead of time. Why 60 minutes? There have been a few times where I’ve had interviews in other cities that were 45 minutes to over 1.5 hours away from home. I also know the highway I’d take to get there is infamous for traffic and construction, which would extend the driving by a bit. Add in weather factors and other unpredictables, and leaving early is always a good thing; especially if you’re unfamiliar with the place you’re going to.

But that’s also not the only thing that caused me to get there quite early. Remember the weather thing? Where I live, it can get hot. Really hot. And a few interviews were held on large places that required long walking distances from the parking garage to the building itself. So imagine a very hot summer, a long walk to the interview, dressed in constricting nice clothes, and the feeling of stress to a certain degree. If you’ve been in that situation before, you know the feeling but let me tell you I was sweating a bit by the time I got to the building. That is a reason why I got there an hour early, because I knew what that heat and long walk would do to me. And the last thing you ever want to do is show up to the interview looking like a complete mess.

So for about 45 minutes I spent my time cooling down, while making last-minute mental notes on what to say. But more importantly, cooling down. Now you don’t have to go that far, but keeping in mind the time and what can happen the moment you go out those doors is a small key to success.

Take Your Notepad With You

Researching is obviously necessary if you want to have a good shot at nailing this interview. Not only learning more about the job position, itself, but the company and/or people you expect to be working with. A picture can say a thousand words, and it can lend a glimpse at what environment you might expect to work in. Whether it’s their actual website or social media, just exploring what it’s like being there can help shape your thoughts and responses when you step into the interview.

If it’s a good vibe you’re getting, then it can ease some stress and open up fun conversations during the interview. If it’s an unsure vibe, this allows you to ask questions about it which can come in handy if you’re not sure what questions to ask. The point is to always look for information that can help you with being successful in your interview. This is also due to you not being able to bring your laptop with you, or pull out your phone during the meeting. All you’ll have is your notepad.

And that notepad, for me, not only had the questions I’d be asking the interviewers, but it also had any and all notes I felt would be useful for me to remember. Of course, this wasn’t to be used during the interview, but rather before the meeting. Don’t forget, this is about time leading up to that big sit-down. Whenever I would arrive early to the place, I’d use that time to look at my notes and phone for reminders of what to bring up to the people I’ll speak with. I wasn’t going to carry my laptop, connect to the wifi, and look at my notes on-screen like that. At that point in time, even if the stress is there, you should have enough information to be able to talk well about how you fit perfectly in this role.

Forget Everything

This is ironically the most successful for me in the moments right before the interview. No, I don’t mean literally forget all that you studied and practiced for. What this means is to put all the notes away, breath, and distract yourself as you wait to be called in for the interview. Back to my tale of one hot summer interview, while I still had about 10 minutes before I planned to walk in and let them know I arrived, I pulled out my phone and looked at my photos and videos. I looked at ones I knew would make me smile and instantly relaxed as I let the stress melt away. For me, it was ones with my family and friends; in particular my baby nephews.

Whenever I see those I quickly remember that, no matter what, things will be okay as long as I have those people in my life. A reminder that although I might be on my own for this meeting, there’s that support from them that also goes in to that room. While it’s important to know what you will talk about, how to respond to certain questions and such, it is just as important to not dwell on it too much. Interviews come and go, and there will be more than one throughout your lifetime. Eventually you’ll be confident when in that room, but it all starts with how you handle the anxiety of the time before the interview. It can be minutes or days before, but working on that stress and using positive resources help prior as well as during the interview. Just remember to breath, think ahead (but not too long), bring your notes and something that will make you smile. If you do that, you will set yourself up for a better chance at succeeding and getting closer to that job you want.


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