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Managing Interview Stress: Six Quick Tips to Keep You Cool In Conference

Nobody likes a job interview. It’s stressful – a potentially life-altering event. Yet, the average worker is going to have 5.4 jobs over his or her career so, if you haven’t already had the pleasure, a job interview may well be in your future.

The best interview you’ll ever give is the one that shows off the natural you and “your way.” Precise and creased or kind of out-of-the-box – when the real you comes out, you’re in the middle of an excellent interview.

Unfortunately, many of us approach a job interview with dread, fear and loathing. We take classes, read books (The Five Minute You’re Hired Handbook) and prep like we would for the SATs and, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s part of the process to visit the company website, read up on the industry and prepare yourself with information that shows you know your stuff.

But, if you sit there stiffly and uncomfortably during the interview, and rattle off industry insider jargon for a half hour, you aren’t going to create an accurate impression of you – the confident, relaxed host who can handle a dinner for 20 as easily as he can improve the numbers as the new regional sales manager.

Here are some tips to put your mind at ease and equalize the playing field so you don’t feel as though you’re in the glare of the spotlight.

  1. Wear your favorite clothes.

    The suit that fits well and shows off your professional sense of style. The one you like best. Your lucky suit or the one in which you’re most comfortable.

    Same with shoes. Go for comfort. The next thing you know, you’re getting a lengthy tour of the facilities while breaking in a new pair of wingtips. Ouch!

    If the job isn’t a “suit” job, wear your most comfortable clothes that are appropriate for a job interview. Not blue jeans, a torn Amy Winehouse t-shirt and a Yankee cap on backward. If you look nice – clean, pressed and shined – it shows a potential employer you’re serious about a job.

    Be as comfortable as you can in the clothes you choose for an interview. It’s probably not a good time to experiment with a new look.

  2. Start preparations early.

    Your interview is at 11:00 AM. Get up at 8:00 and give yourself some slow motion time. You don’t want to be rushed this morning. You want to be relaxed.

    Try meditating for 20 minutes. Get in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and block out the world. Let your mind go blank and give yourself a few positive affirmations. There is something to be said for this “power of positive thinking” thing.

    Keep your pace slow from wake up to arrival at the interview location. The stress of rushing to get there on time will have you vibrating like a tuning fork, and a good interviewer is looking for signs of stress. A hectic morning is not a good start for a job interview.

  3. Put your materials together.

    Bring a copy of your cover letter, resume, recommendations, licenses, certifications, awards and other information that might be useful during an interview.

    Place these materials in an organized fashion in an attaché case, even if you have to borrow one from your brother-in-law.

  4. Skip the caffeine.

    Or at least cut down. If you’re a five-cup-a-day latte junkie, try cutting back to one on the morning of your interview. Caffeine is a stimulant. It gets you jagged and, remember, you’re presenting the cool, calm and collected you to the interviewer so get comfortable and show them the real, decaf you.

  5. Use the interview as a give and take.

    This kind of equalizes the playing field and takes the spotlight off of you. An interview isn’t an interrogation (though it may feel that way at times); it’s an exchange of information.

    Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask – questions about job responsibilities, chain of command, daily responsibilities, required skill set and other information you need to know to determine if this is a good fit for you. (You don’t have to take the job just because it’s offered to you, unless things are really bleak when you look at the checkbook.)

    Asking appropriate questions shows you’re interested in the company, it gives the interviewer an opportunity to talk and it gives the both of you an opportunity to connect on some level. That’s important – especially if the HR interviewer is doing 20 different interviews that day. You’ll stick out as the one who asked some good questions and told a funny joke.

  6. Follow Through.

    The biggest mistake interviewees make is no follow-through. If you spoke to the manager who told you to give her a call in a week, mark it on your calendar and make that call. If the shift supervisor tells you to come back in the morning, be there early.

    And if the head of HR invites you to meet her at an industry conference, take her up on the offer. It’s a good sign that you’re in the running.

    Send a thank you note ASAP after the interview – while your face and personality are still familiar. It doesn’t have to be long but send it on professional, high quality, watermarked stationery (it really counts). Some HR coaches will tell you to send a hand-written card. It’s one of those “play-it-by-ear” things.

    Nope, no one likes to go through a job interview but there are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself. Preparation builds confidence and assurance that you know your stuff, in turn creating the sense of security that reduces stress. You know this. No sweat.

    There are also lots of things you can do to relax so you walk into that interview as a poised professional who’s prepared, calm under pressure and ready to get down to business.

And that’s just the kind of impression you want to make.

- Teena Rose, Leading Career & Resume Expert

What you don’t know about your resume, cover letter, and personal branding strategies are affecting the outcome of your job search … and career. Put a top resume writing firm and leading career strategist in your corner for a shorter and smoother job search, a higher salary, and more successful career.