If a recruiter has invited you in for a job interview, congratulations! This is a big win in the job-hunting process that you should be proud of. While an interview does bring you one step closer to landing a job, it's also something that can have you feeling nervous and on edge. The good news is this is completely normal, and you're not alone. "Anxiety is a normal response to a new opportunity," said licensed clinical psychologist Jennifer B. Rhodes, PsyD. She says learning how to trigger the body's natural relaxation response — aka turning off our fight or flight response — is an invaluable skill in this situation.
Prepare For the Interview Beforehand
There are a few things you can do to feel more at ease ahead of a job interview. For starters, preparing in advance will make you feel more in control. "I advise individuals to prepare by learning about the organization's mission and values and identifying ways in which their own values align with those of the organization," said Leela R. Magavi, MD, from Community Psychiatry. "Maintaining focus on important themes diverts attention from extraneous factors." Along with understanding the company and job you've applied for, conducting mock interviews and rehearsing responses in front of the mirror can help to alleviate anxiety.
Not only should you practice for the interview, but it helps to think about logistical aspects of interview day as well. "I advise individuals to pick what to wear and assess transportation or all technological details for virtual interviews well in advance," said Dr. Magavi. Whether it be knowing directions to the destination, testing out your Zoom settings, or giving yourself enough time to get ready beforehand, these are different techniques that can help put you feel more at ease.
Practice Being Mindful
Getting in tune with your mind and body can help relieve your body's nervousness before a job interview. Dr. Rhodes says yoga is a great way to get out of your head and relax the body. "Meditation can be helpful for clearing negative thoughts from our head, and a regular practice will help with anxiety," she said. Dr. Rhodes added that being more compassionate to yourself is scientifically proven to be a self-soothing skill.
Another way to be more mindful is to recognize where your body is holding tension. Clinical psychologist Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, advises you do this by connecting with your senses. "Identify things you see, hear, feel, smell, and if possible, taste," she said. "This will take you out of your head and feelings of anxiety and instead enable you to engage in the moment."
Remember Interviews Are Just Conversations
At the end of the day, a job interview is simply a conversation between you and the recruiter. Shifting your mindset to this way of thinking may help downplay your nerves. "Visualize the interviewer as a multidimensional person, who is connecting to you not just as a potential job candidate but as a parent, friend, colleague, peer," said Romanoff.
You're not only being evaluated on your qualifications for the position but also whether you will be a fit for their team and company culture. There's no better way to do this than by being yourself. "To make a connection you cannot be too timid or box yourself into a one-dimensional relationship of just viewing the interviewer as your boss," she says. "Instead, try to connect with the interviewer on a human level."