You are driving down the highway at about 70 mph. It’s raining, the hip hop music—chosen by your teens—is too loud, your spouse is talking to you and the kids in the back seat are arguing. It’s freezing rain and the ice pellets make a disconcerting popping noise when it hits the windshield. Your husband turns on the defroster and it’s getting uncomfortably warm. You’re holding the wheel white-knuckled tightly and try to get out of the fast lane.You feel your blood pressure rising as you’re about to shift lanes.
Out of nowhere, an electric blue Porsche Panamera (going about 80 mph), cuts right in front of you, forcing you to swerve back into the passing lane. Your heart is pounding. You start sweating and breathing heavily. Instinctively you curse up a storm. Your husband chastises, “Don’t curse in front of the kids! Why were you driving so fast anyway?” The kids sense the tension and jump in, dishing their opinions on your driving skills and start asking when will you buy them cars so that they don’t have to be chauffeured around like little kids. You feel attacked from all sides, then speed up to pass the obnoxious jerk in the Porsche—just to get a look at the guy and give him a dirty look. The rest of the ride is a mixture of heated arguments and then subsequent uncomfortably tense dead silence. The mood continues once you arrive home and remains that way for the rest of the weekend.
When we are confronted with certain pressure-cooker situations, it is easy to allow our emotions to take control of us. Fear and anger can overwhelm even the most strong-minded and tough people. In the course of interviewing for a job, it is a highly stressful event. You get excited about the prospect of acquiring a great new role with higher pay and career-advancement potential. In your mind, you build up all the amazing possibilities of where this job could lead to in the future. Quickly accompanying the elation is the impending dread of failure and anxiety about the the logistics of the interview process:
“What if it doesn’t work out?”
“I’m worried that they won’t like me.”
“I hope I don’t embarrass and make a fool of myself.”
“What if I freeze up in the interview and bomb?”
“How can I make sure my boss won’t find out?”
“What should I wear that won’t call attention to me at work?”
You must effectively manage and harness these detrimental feelings to thrive and succeed in the interview. If you don’t work on managing your emotions and allow the pressure, stress and anxiety to fester, grow and engulf you, it will be almost impossible to succeed.
Here is what super successful people do to manage their emotions to excel in the interview process and get the job offer:
- Your confidence level grows exponentially as you learn more about the company, its culture and the people you will be meeting with. As you become more comfortable with understanding the job requirements and how you will present yourself, your fears will subside. I’ve noticed that smart successful people invest in themselves. They will allocate a meaningful amount of time toward improving themselves and also avoid frivolous non-productive activities. Before an interview or important meeting, these people will spend an enormous amount of time and energy preparing—and you should too. Put aside non-essential tasks and focus on learning as much as you can about the company and the people that you will be interviewing with. Conduct a deep-dive, thorough due diligence on the company, view the LinkedIn profiles of the interviewers, run Google and social media searches into the company and its key important executives. Closely review the job description, then prepare and practice your elevator pitch and give your résumé and LinkedIn profile an upgrade. Think of all the questions that could be asked of you and have answers ready. The simple act of devoting time will invigorate you with confidence and help displace your fears and worries.
- Make sure that you arrive extra early to the interview. Use this time to chat with anyone you meet with along the way to the meeting. It could be the Starbucks barista, the guy at the newsstand you bought the mints from to ensure that you have nice fresh breath and the person sitting next to you on the train. By engaging in these random conversations, it will warm and loosen you up for the interviews and lessen your anxiety. When you are talking with others, it distracts you from being nervous. It’s like a pitcher throwing in the bullpen to warm up before he hits the mound. Once you arrive at the building, don’t go in yet. Take a walk around the neighborhood. It will get your adrenaline going and help clear your mind. This part may seem weird, but trust me—it works: take a deep breath in to the count of four, hold it in for two seconds and then exhale to a beat of four. This light meditation will serve to relax and de-stress you and help clear out all of the racing, self-defeating thoughts that may be plaguing you. If you like music, put on some headphones and turn up music that gets you pumped. If you haven’t noticed, most basketball and football players arriving off the bus for a big game wear headphones to block out distractions and get psyched up. Once you are in the building, talk with the security guard checking your identification, even if he gives you that “What’s wrong with you?” glare. If there is someone in the elevator, offer a brief, “Hi, what do you think about the weather?” type question. When you enter the lobby, strike up a conversation with the receptionist. This keeps you loose and you may learn some tidbits about the company and employees that could be of help in the interview.
- Days before the interview, logically rationalize what is the upside and downside of the interview. If you currently have a job, then the worst thing that could happen is that you return to the office and could always try again with another opportunity. The best thing would be for the firm to hire you and offer a great salary. The risk versus reward is clearly in your favor. Think in terms of having nothing to lose and everything to gain.
- Pay close attention to your body language. Try this out now: Walk around with your shoulders back, head held high and a confident stride. Play a soundtrack of the songs that get you amped up in your mind. When you see someone crossing your path, look them straight in the eyes and nod “hello” with a nice smile. I will guarantee you that you feel strong and confident. Use that in the interview. Make your body language reflect confidence and authority. It will become self-fulfilling and you will actually feel comfortable and lose the jitters.
I recognize that I’m making it sound so easy. I empathize how hard it can be for some people to keep their emotions in check. View this as a mere starting point to build upon. The more you work on it and add items to your repertoire, you will become comfortable, confident and capable of fighting back the feelings of worry, stress, fear and anxiety.