The key to interview success is to keep anxiety under control so the level of stress is manageable. Here are some tips for handling pre-interview and during the job interview jitters, so you more easily handle the process and ace your interviews.
Tips for Avoiding Interview Stress
Thorough preparation can go a long way toward easing interview stress. Identify your most relevant skills, and be ready to share examples or anecdotes proving that you have applied those strengths to work, volunteer, academic or co-curricular roles, and generated some positive results. Here are tips on how to prepare for a job interview.
Research your target company thoroughly, and be prepared to share why the employer and job in focus matches your interests. Here's how to research a company.
The old adage "practice makes perfect" applies to interviewing. The more familiar interviewing feels to you, the less anxiety you will feel with the process. Meet with advisers, mentors, and friends for mock or practice interviews. Conduct as many informational interviews as possible with alumni or personal contacts to gain confidence in sharing information about your background.
Conduct a vigorous job search to generate as many interviews as possible. The stress associated with any one interview will likely be lower if you have many other irons in the fire. Here's more how to job search effectively.
What Not to Think About Your Interviews
Stress around interviews is often influenced by our assumptions, or the statements we make to ourselves about the process. Identifying and countering anxiety provoking thoughts can help to lower levels of anxiety. Some of the negative thoughts that can up your anxiety level include:
"I have to land this job, or I will be hopelessly unemployed." Counter this thinking with statements emphasizing that no one interview will determine your work future. There will be other options and other chances to land a good job.
"I just messed up that answer, I'm toast, and I'll never be hired here." One poor answer normally does not knock a candidate out of consideration. An interview is like a test, getting an 85 or 90 might be good enough to land the job.
"I'm afraid that they will ask me a question which stumps me and I'll look foolish." If you are well prepared you will normally be able to share some answer which reflects positively on your strengths. If you are truly stumped, then say something like "That's a great question, can I give that some additional consideration and get back to you?" You might even supply the answer in question as part of your follow up communication.
"There's no way I'm qualified for this job." Mentally review your assets repeatedly prior to the interview to convince yourself that you have the right stuff.
Focus on Success
Many athletic and job coaches believe that visualizing images of success can improve performance and alleviate anxiety. Try frequently imagining positive interactions with your interviewer, particularly in the hours immediately prior to your interview.
Counselors recommend relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation or breathing exercises as a way to manage anxiety. If your anxiety around interviewing is excessive, then you might consider engaging a psychologist to identify the underlying issues and help you to develop effective coping strategies.
One other point to remember is that if you don't get this job, there will be another one. It just wasn't meant to me. Consider it a learning experience and move forward to the next opportunity.
Another thing it to remember is that it could have been worse. Take a look at some of these bad interview stories shared by About.com readers to see how interviews can really go wrong.