You're hyperventilating in that itchy suit you almost forgot to pick up at the cleaners and can't recall a single fact about your employment history. The worst part is you haven't even set foot in the employer's boardroom yet.
Sound familiar? Sometimes the prospect of a job interview inspires such feelings of anxiety and dread that we anticipate every conceivable aspect of the process going wrong. Most of us have envisioned ourselves committing dozens of interview sins long before we attempt the process live.
Rather than allowing your imagination to work against you, think about employing a tactic psychologists have used for decades. Mental rehearsal is a simple technique in which you visualize your desired performance in high-pressure situations. Research suggests that mental rehearsal can effectively alleviate anxiety while increasing desired performance behaviors and outcomes.
Mental rehearsal for interviews requires that you envision how the ideal interview will unfold. The more detailed the vision, the more effective your rehearsal will be. Find a quiet space where you're unlikely to be disturbed for 10-15 minutes and use these basic guidelines for practice:
- Get into a comfortable position. Take a few deep breaths and as you exhale imagine all of the tension slowly leaving your body. Allow your mind to focus.
- See yourself in reception before your interview. Notice the color of the walls and the style of the furniture as well as the sounds you would normally hear in this environment.
- Notice what you are wearing. Make sure you select clothing that makes you feel confident and comfortable.
- Imagine the interviewer approaching you in reception. You smile and extend your hand, thinking to yourself 'I am a terrific candidate for this job'.
- You walk into the boardroom where you will be interviewed. This time, focus on the questions you will be asked. Imagine yourself answering the questions intelligently and confidently. As the interview comes to a close, tell yourself 'That went very well'.
Consider some of the thoughts and feelings that emerged during the rehearsal process. Try to combat negative self-perceptions with upbeat self-talk, such as 'I have terrific communication skills' or 'I have a wonderful eye for design'. Personalise your statements so that they make the encounter seem more realistic.
As you become more accustomed to the visualization, try adding scenarios that have been anxiety-provoking during past interviews (for example, being asked a question to which you don't have an answer) and practice thoughtful ways of responding to them.
Words of Caution
No amount of visualization will be effective if you haven't bothered to research your employer or if you neglected to set your alarm clock to give yourself enough time beforehand to get ready and arrive ahead of schedule. Mental rehearsal is a supplementary tool intended to reduce anxiety and promote confidence; it isn't a complete solution for interview preparation.
At Electus we offer as much advice and guidance as we can to all of our prospective candidates. This includes briefing the candidate on the types of attributes the employer is looking for, additional information about the company itself such as recent changes in structure or hierarchy and mostly providing a confidence boost to job seekers that they can do it if they believe in themselves and their skillset.
Should you ever need any help or support then please do contact one of our specialist talent delivery consultants and they will be happy to assist.
University of Berkeley California