How to Deal with Interview Nerves
Since time immemorial, mankind has had certain chemical and biological processes hardwired into our bodies. When we feel fear, our levels of cortisol and adrenaline skyrocket while bloodflow decreases to the parts of our brain that deal with critical reasoning. This was incredibly useful when man needed to instinctively respond to the threats of predators, but this same “fight-or-flight” reaction can make us twitchy, illogical, and erratic in the high-pressure environment of interviews. The good news is that once we know what biological processes are holding us back, we can take affirmative steps to deal with these issues. Here are three strategies students have successfully employed to deal with interview nerves:
1.) Make sure you have everything you need: Interviews are already difficult enough without adding external stressors to the mix. This means making sure you arrive at the interview location with plenty of time to spare, getting a good night’s sleep beforehand, and eating a healthy meal the day of the interview. Rushed, tired, and hungry people are going to lean on the type of instinctive reactions that can diminish interview performance.
2.)Consider the use of visualization strategies: Right before an interview, it can be easy to get stuck in a negative feedback loop in which you start considering all the things that can go wrong in an interview. In order to avoid such issues, I teach my students several relaxation and visualization techniques employed in order to clear the mind prior to the interview. One such technique—the palming method—involves students covering their eyes and imagining a scene. Over a period of two minutes, they focus on adding as much detail to the scene as possible. If they are imagining a beach, they might first think about whether they are beachgoers. If there are beachgoers, they might consider what color swimsuits are in the scene, etc. This focuses the mind on a creative process that leaves little room for creeping doubts and nerves.
3.)PRACTICE!: One of the key sources of interview nerves—especially for younger students—is simple unfamiliarity. If a student doesn’t know what to expect, they can feel unprepared and helpless. Practicing allows students to understand what will happen in the interview and consider what answers they might give to common questions. By taking the mystery out of interviews, parents can ensure that students feel confident and ready to tackle the interviewing process.