Some fear and anxiety are always going to be there when you interview. After all, this is pretty important for you, isn’t it? If you don’t care at all, then you wouldn’t be nervous, and thus by being nervous, it just means you simply care enough for it to have some impact on you.
However, caring too much is not a good thing. You can be a great Olympic-level athlete, get to the Olympics, and then choke and go home with a “measly” bronze medal. Not because you are not physically capable, but because you got nervous and over-thought it.
You attached your self-worth to the medal.
The worst thing you can do is to tell yourself “my life depends on this.” It most certainly doesn’t.
Even though this might seem like the most important thing in the world, it’s almost impossible to plan out your career. Why? Because the world is changing very, very quickly and what you’re doing five years down the line is going to be hard to predict.
And ironically, the more we attach our self-worth to outcomes that we cannot ultimately control, the more we feel out of control.
The point is, life is chaotic. So don’t sweat it and stop trying to control what you can’t. Embrace the uncertainty.
With that said, here are some further few realizations that helped me get over my personal anxiety of interviewing.
Fake It Until You Make It
How can you be great at interviews if you haven’t really interviewed before? Of course, you can practice, but ultimately you have to accept that there are countless people who have been in the same situation as you. Nobody knows what you are thinking, and nobody can gauge your full abilities in one meeting. What is possible, though, is to give them a good impression. The way to do this is through eye contact, a smile, and pretending to be confident.
By simply acting confident (even when we’re not), people perceive you to be competent. In one study, members in a group project who were asked to act more assertively were rated higher on all levels, including mathematics, regardless of their actual skills.
Johnny Depp never wants to go back and watch his movies for fear of being disappointed. It’s not just him, but many artists and actors. If you attach too much importance to what you are doing so much that it gets tied to your self-worth, then you’re going to get shattered when things don’t work out.
I hate recording myself, but it works. Any great athlete or speaker records themselves to find out where the “gap” is in their performance, technique or presentation. If you don’t want to practice in front of a friend, then this is especially a great option. I always use either my computer camera or my iPhone video/audio record function.
The first time listening to the sound of your voice is going to make you cringe. You might be tempted to scamper away and hide under your blankets. Don’t worry, after you do this a couple of times you will get used to it and is a huge step in self-analysis. You’ll see how many times you say “umm.” And once you watch yourself, listen to yourself, and improve, just remember that you are one step ahead of Johnny Depp.
Watch Youtube Videos
Spend time watching good storytelling, reading good fiction and watching YouTube videos of speakers in your industry. Observe your own emotions and feelings. At what point do you get excited? What made them so good? Did you get happy, sad, mad, scared, excited, or have “aha” moments? Did you like it because of its simplicity and elegance? Listening to Winston Churchill or Malcolm Gladwell speak should get you sufficiently pumped up. But it doesn’t have to be anyone famous.
For example, you could find a person from your field of interest (whether they are higher up or not doesn’t matter) that has any recording speaking engagement online (news, documentary, industry event, etc.). Listen to how they describe things and take inspiration.
Practice Under Stress
Here’s the concept: if you practice verbalizing your examples and telling a story in front of the mirror in an air-conditioned room in your PJ’s, this is not going to be realistic. The real interview room is going to be different, and you are going to encounter some stressful situations.
Usually, interviews don’t go quite as well as we hoped. One small thing can throw us off. Perhaps our bus is late. Your kid throws up all over your resume. Or we forgot to iron our shirt. Or there is traffic. Or maybe the room is hot and sticky and you are visibly sweating. Or your stomach really hurts.
Instead of doing this create some artificial environment for yourself. Practice your interview stories at 11 pm when you are tired. Or practice them at 5 am before you drink your coffee. Practice them sitting in the sauna. Practice them on the way to work while you’re walking and your heart rate is elevated — which it is likely to be in the actual interview. Go practice in the zoo next to screeching monkeys.
Alternatively, you can also try and recreate what the interview room would be like. Wear a suit or the clothes you would be wearing on the day of the interview. If you have access to an office space with boring white walls, then go practice there. You get the point. So once interview day comes, nothing can stop you.
Oh, and of course share a good story with them!
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