After the initial fist-pumping celebration of securing a job interview comes the dreaded nerves. As the day comes closer and closer you start to feel sick with fear and nervous with the thought of having to answer all those questions and impress the interviewer.
What if you can’t answer a question? What if they grill you or are unfriendly? What if you stumble over your words because you’re nervous? What if you haven’t prepared enough?
It’s at this point your body starts to have a physiological response to the stressful thoughts in your mind. You go into one of three modes – fight, flight or freeze – as a self-protection response against the perceived threat (in this case, the interview). Although these reactions would have saved you against a threat in primitive times, neither response is helpful for an interview situation.
So how do you beat interview nerves? We have seven bizarre ways that actually work:
Drawing and doodling helps to focus the mind and distract you from worrying thoughts. The process engages both hemispheres of your brain and induces the flow state:
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
You’ll find this works even better if you draw symmetrical designs like mandalas as the process of repeating patterns helps you slip into a meditative flow-state even faster.
Tap on your karate chop point
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), or more commonly known as tapping, is when you tap your fingers on particular parts of the body to release negative emotions.
Derived from acupressure therapy, it can be an effective way of calming you down and reducing the physical symptoms of interview nerves. Before or during the interview when you feel the nerves rising, discreetly tap the fingers of your right hand on your left hand’s karate chop point.
Eat fish and nuts
In our bodies we have various nerves which connect the brain to our organs. The Vagus nerve plays a big part in your involuntary nervous system and instructs unconscious body mechanisms, such as keeping your heart rate constant.
Stimulating the Vagus nerve can induce a sense of calm by reducing blood pressure and heart rate. One of the best ways of doing this is increasing your omega 3 consumption – found commonly in oily fish and nuts. So munch on some almonds and have salmon before your big interview to stay calm and relaxed.
The Wonder Woman pose
Have you heard of power poses like ‘The Wonder Woman’? They’re poses you can do to increase your confidence and decrease anxiety. All you have to do is stand or sit in a particular position for a couple of minutes to change the hormones in your system and feel the effects.
The science behind power poses is that when you get into these stances you’re increasing testosterone (which makes you feel more confident and ready to take on the world) whilst at the same time decreasing cortisol (which lowers anxiety).
There’s a few poses you can try but we favour ‘The Wonder Woman’ here at AAT. Put your hands on your hips, spread your arms legs wide, and lift your chin up. Hold for two minutes and feel like a superhero (psst – you don’t have to be a woman to feel the benefit of the wonder woman pose. Men, if it helps, channel your inner Batman).
Squeeze the shakes away
Shaking with nerves? Try squeezing your buttocks together to stop yourself shaking. Your body (especially your hands which are the first place people notice you shaking) can’t shake if you’re clenching your buttocks.
Go on, give it a try now. You might find that clenching your thighs works equally well, and some people clench and release their toes to distract the shakes too.
Another way to trick your body into thinking you’re calm and composed is to open your mouth and let it go limp – allowing the tongue and jaw to completely relax. This works in a similar way to the power poses – signalling your body to reduce cortisol and adrenaline production which helps you return to a state of rest.
Try it before your interview, but maybe find somewhere out of sight like your car, or a toilet cubical. You don’t want your interviewer to think you’re catching flies.
Focus on their eye colour
Trent Hamm, author of The Simple Dollar, shares one of his best hacks to calm your nerves during interviews or when meeting someone new. He suggests looking into the eyes of the person you’re meeting until you can describe the colour of them with an adjective. For example your interviewer’s eyes are “sky blue” or “lily-pad green”. Once you’ve found the word, look away.
If you can’t recall the colour, look back. Repeat as necessary and you’ll give the impression of confidence and attention. Trent says: “ It gives me a reason to look people in the eye on a regular basis (making me appear confident) but not too much (making me appear creepy).”
We suggest trying it out in a social situation before using it during an interview to get used to doing it an non-creepy way and ensuring you don’t stop paying attention to what the other person is saying!
- Mandala Meditation – quiet your mind through creative doodling
- The Tapping Solution – Tapping 101
- Power Poses – Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language
How do you keep calm in an interview situation? Give us your best tips in the comments below.
Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.