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Your Sweet Spot

Achieving a balance between confidence and terror as you anticipate a job interview takes some doing. You want to be well prepared and eager to make a genuinely good impression on the interviewer, but still the tendency is to be afraid—maybe even terrified. What if you don't know the answer to a question or you're so nervous you can't think straight, or you feel sick to your stomach and want to run from the room?

Of course any of those scenarios can occur but they don't have to—and they won't—if you locate your 'sweet spot'—the place between confidence and terror. The best way to stay in the sweet spot, according to psychologist Jason Moser of Michigan State University, as reported in The Wall Street Journal (June 19, 2012), is to turn anxious thoughts into action steps.

Following are some examples drawn from the experts who counsel athletes, businessmen and women, and other professionals.

  1. Challenge self-defeating thoughts. Stare them down and they'll shrink. Ask yourself if what you think about yourself is really true. For example, are you an incapable, boring person that no one will hire? Of course not.

  2. Rehearse with a friend what you plan to say and do. Conduct a mock interview so you can hear yourself respond to practice questions. Such an exercise gives you plenty of time to change or modify what you'd like to improve.

  3. Feel the fear and go forward anyway. It's all right to have some apprehension. It can work in your favor by heightening your awareness of the people and situation around you, making you more responsive, more confident, and more interested in participating in the interview to the best of your ability.

Steps to Avoid

  1. Drinking alcohol before an interview. A drink or two may calm you momentarily but it also may cloud your mind and cause you to lose your focus. Interviewers read people well. They'll be able to tell by your eyes, your speech, and your mannerisms if you're in an altered state—regardless of how minor it might seem to you.

  2. Exercising vigorously ahead of time. It's good to be in shape and alert, but a hard workout could zap your strength and open the door for fatigue just when you need all the stamina you can muster in order to respond to the employer with a clear mind. Save the treadmill and weights for after the interview when you want to celebrate how well you did.

  3. Sharing too much information with others. Some people manage their fear by talking in excess to family and friends in either a negative or positive way. They prepare themselves for defeat by pretending they don't care one way or the other about the result of the job interview or they brag about how they're going to blow the hiring manager away with their experience and skills.

Keep yourself in check. Spend time alone before leaving for the interview. Relax with deep breathing, review your notes, and finally rest in that sweet spot between confidence and terror—where you know all will be well because you'll do your best and no one can expect more.

- Jimmy Sweeney

Jimmy Sweeney is the president of CareerJimmy and author of the brand new "Secret Career Document" job landing system. Jimmy is also the author of several career related books and writes a monthly article titled, "Job Search Secrets." Visit our friends at Job Interview "Secret" and discover Jimmy Sweeney's breakthrough strategy that will have you standing out from the competition like a Harvard graduate at a local job fair… DURING your next job interview.