Getting that next great role is going to involve an interview. Most of the time there are multiple interviews – a phone screen, an interview with HR, and at least one interview with the hiring manager. Interviews are your opportunity to showcase your career brand, sell the potential employer on how your skills and experience are a fit for the role, and your chance to gain some insight about the organization and the role. At the very least, every interview is a chance to practice your interview skills, and in some cases the interview will be that necessary step towards landing a great role. Interviews are a highly evaluative situation and particularly when you are really keen on that organization and role, it can be quite stressful. To a certain extent stress can enhance performance, but there is a tipping point where stress can have a detrimental effect. The best way to tackle stress is to anticipate it and use tools and techniques to keep it at an optimal level. We have acknowledged that job interviews can be stressful, and we know that we want to put our best selves forward in that situation, so how can we best mentally prepare for a job interview?
RESEARCH & PREPARE
Knowledge is power. Having information can help reduce ambiguity, and thereby keep stress at a manageable level. Conducting research can enable you to provide great responses to interview questions. Find out as much detail as you can about the organization and the interviewer. You can accomplish this by using LinkedIn and the company’s website to conduct some research. The more you know about the company and the role, the more prepared you will feel. Take this another step further by designing some interview questions based on the job posting and practice interviewing for the role. You can design sample behavioural based interview questions for each requirement in the posting. Have a friend or family member play the role of the interviewer and give you some feedback. Alternatively, record yourself responding to the questions and play it back so you can observe yourself and make some improvements. Doing a few mock interviews will likely help you feel more at ease for the real deal.
Get the facts straight about when and where the interview will be held. Find out who you will be meeting with, their role(s) and use LinkedIn to gather some information on their professional background. As well, it’s important to know if you’re preparing for a one-on-one interview or a panel interview. Be sure to bring an extra copy of your resume and a device to take notes.
Know where you’re going. Check the route of your commute whether it be by public transit, foot or car. If you’re driving, be sure to identify parking lots in advance and their payment methods as some are cash only. If you’re taking public transportation, check online about any potential closures or detours. Leave yourself a minimum of 30 minutes of extra time to get there. Better to be there early than to be scrambling to get there on time, or worst of all, get there late. If you are currently in a role and need to coordinate the absence from work, be sure to figure out that plan and your ‘story’.
If you are going from your current employment to the interview, wear something that you can potentially dress up or down. Make your interview outfit choice consistent with your current organization’s typical attire while at the same time easily adaptable to what you have determined is most suitable for the interview.
WELLNESS & SLEEP
Part of preparing for a stressful event is acknowledging that it has the potential to be stressful. You can utilize that awareness to do a few things that will help reduce the negative effects of stress. Get a good night’s sleep in advance of the interview. Everyone’s sleep patterns and habits are different, but many people experience a disruption in sleep the night before an interview. Do what you need to do to make sure you sleep well. No caffeine late in the day, don’t eat too close to bedtime and avoid bright light from devices late at night. Spend some time during the day to review your resume, interview notes and go over the logistics. Then put it aside and do something relaxing for those last few hours before bedtime. Some suggestions include meditation, reading and stretching. There are many apps, podcasts and online tools to get you started with meditation. Make sure the activity is calming and puts your mind at ease. If you are going to use an electronic device to watch a tv show or correspond with friends, make sure the light is not too bright as that can interfere with sleep cycles. I didn’t mention social media as a late in the evening activity because it isn’t known for its calming effects. On the morning of the interview, be sure to eat something healthy, something that you know you digest easily and that gives you some energy. Be attentive to your wellness during your commute.
VISUALIZE IT GOING WELL
You’ve researched, thought through the logistics, focused on your wellness and slept well – you’re ready for the interview. One last thing to help you mentally prepare for the interview is to visualize it going well. Research shows that visualization is a great method to reduce stress and has been shown to increase the likelihood of achieving goals. Picture the outcome that you are hoping for. Imagine that you will have your stress in check. Visualize in your mind that you will respond to questions with ease. Envision yourself asking a few pointed questions. And, while you’re at it why not even visualize yourself getting that job! After all, you are mentally prepared.