Thursday, August 03, 2006

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Interview jitters

YOUR HANDS feel cold and clammy, beads of sweat trickle down your temples and a lump at the back of your throat renders you speechless. No, you are not about to declare your undying adoration to the love of your life. Nor are you going to pick up a machine gun and march to the frontlines of a battle. You are about to do something that is probably easier, and undoubtedly less injurious to your health and sanity than the other two alternatives. You are about to attend an interview.
It is entirely normal to be nervous before job interviews. (In fact, a vast majority of candidates admit to emotions ranging from mild uneasiness to downright panic leading up to their interviews.) While a manageable level of stress quickens the mind, sharpens our responses and pumps more adrenaline into our system, extreme anxiety and nervousness can make a person tongue-tied, talk too much or say the wrong things.
Here are a few simple tips for keeping anxiety at bay and calming those nervous jitters before and during your interview:
One of the best ways to overcome pre-interview nervousness, of course, is to be well prepared. Check out the website of the company you are interviewing with, and speak with any contacts you have who can help you get a better understanding of the company. You should also draft answers to common interview questions and practise speaking them out loud. Ensure that you are appropriately dressed and adequately prepared for the interview. Being well prepared will boost your confidence and lower your nervousness. Arrive 15 or 20 minutes ahead of your scheduled interview time. Reaching the venue early for the interview will give you enough time to collect your thoughts and calm yourself before the big event.
On the morning of your interview, try to avoid caffeine as much as possible. A lot of people believe that it helps them to relax, but drinking too many cups of coffee or cola before your interview can actually trigger feelings of anxiety. A glass of water instead will help hydrate and energize your body, and clear your throat.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation are effective in overcoming extreme cases of interview fright. Extreme fear can cause panic attacks and preconditioning will do wonders for this type of anxiety.
If you find yourself becoming nervous during the interview, take a deep breath and focus on the interview questions. Don't rush through your answers or make unqualified statements. Most interviewers take down answers just in case a group of job applicants are short-listed.
Do try and maintain eye contact as much as possible when speaking or listening. Avoid looking away or looking down; it signifies lack of confidence or interest. If looking straight into the interviewer's eyes makes you uncomfortable, then focus on the interviewer's face right above and between his or her eyes. Although you are not looking straight into their eyes, you appear to be maintaining eye contact.
Admitted, an interview is an important event that could lead up to your dream job or career, but worrying too much about the stakes will only make you more nervous and hamper your performance. Give yourself credit for getting an interview - only a small percentage of people get this far in the process.
Try to keep things in perspective. At worst, you might not do well at the interview. So what if you fail? It is not the end of the universe. It is not the end of your life either. You are going to have to eat, sleep, and live your life, irrespective of how you fare at the interview. So don't worry too much about success or failure. Instead concentrate on doing your best, and let it go at that.
Lastly do remember that the interviewer is not a monster. He is not looking to trick you, terrify you or make you look bad. Instead, he is looking to make a connection in order to find the ideal candidate for the job. If you keep that in mind, you will find yourself a lot more relaxed and confident when selling your strengths and skills to the interviewer.

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