How to handle nerves and building confidence during Interview

Posted on 6:09 PM by Bharathvn

& Understanding how your beliefs affect your behaviour
& Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones
& Learning to breathe out tension
& Visualising interview success
& Appreciating the value of practice, practice, and yet more practice

Many people find interviews a somewhat scary situation, so you’re not
alone if you feel a bit nervous about having to attend them. Perhaps you
get a dry mouth, racing pulse and sweaty palms. But the good news is
that there are practical tips that will help you to manage your nerves and
show yourself off in the best possible light. Even better, a modicum of
tension can even keep you alert and help you to think more quickly on
your feet.


Your brain, body, and behaviour are inextricably linked. Change any one of
the three – the beliefs you hold in your head, your bodily state, or your
behaviour – and you can affect the other two.
For example, scientists have discovered that just thinking negative
thoughts can cause your body to release stress chemicals into your
bloodstream, which then make you feel tense. Conversely, thinking
positive thoughts can force your heart rate to slow down and help you to
feel more relaxed.
Changing your behaviour can also affect your brain and how your body
responds to stress. For example, listening to gloomy music can cause your
mood to swing downwards; listening to cheerful music forces our brains
to switch into a more positive mood.
The tips within this section recognise that your brain (or the beliefs you
have about yourself), your bodily state, and your behaviour are linked.
Using all of these techniques together will help you to calm your nerves
and project a more confident you.
Harnessing the power of positive thinking
We all have a little voice in our heads. When things go wrong, our inner
critic tells us how stupid we are, how embarrassing a situation is, how we
should avoid similar situations in the future, and so on.
These automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) pop unbidden into our heads
and can cause us to feel more nervous and to behave in ways that aren’t
helpful. In order to stop these ANTs from crawling into our subconscious,
we need to recognise and challenge them.
The key to stamping out your ANTs is to question them when they arise.
 Acknowledge your negative thoughts. Take a sheet of paper and write
down the negative beliefs you have about yourself in the context of
interviews and finding a new job.
 Consciously replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. Choose
some positive phrases about yourself that you can repeat to yourself
when you hear your inner critic putting you down. For example, if you
hear yourself thinking, ‘I’m no good at interviews’, perhaps choose
instead to say, ‘I can be good at interviews if I do my research and
preparation’. Or if you find yourself thinking, ‘I always get so nervous’,
decide instead to repeat to yourself, ‘I will be more confident in this
interview than any other interview I’ve ever been in’.
 Repeat your positive thoughts over and over to yourself. When you
hear your inner critic speaking up, choose to repeat your positive
statements instead. You may at first feel a bit silly and your inner critic
may start to whisper, ‘This isn’t going to work’, but it will work. The
more frequently you repeat your positive statements about yourself, the
more completely you will suppress your inner critic.


Remember that your brain, body, and behaviour are all interconnected.
So it stands to reason that if you change what your body is doing, you can
also change the reactions of your brain as well as the behaviour you will
exhibit during an interview. For example, people who feel nervous often
start to breathe more quickly, which can make them feel dizzy and even
trigger a panic attack. Conversely, breathing more slowly and deeply can
summon up feelings of intense relaxation.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful technique for dispelling tension.
First, you have to practise the technique so that you can use it in the
moments before an interview. Follow these simple steps:
 Lie on a flat but comfortable surface and place your right hand on your
chest and your left hand on your stomach.
 Take slow deep breaths into your stomach. Only your left hand should
rise and fall. Practise inhaling to a count of four, holding your breath for
a few counts, and then exhaling to a count of four. If you do this for
several minutes, you may find that you start to feel very warm, your
fingers start to tingle as your body relaxes and pumps blood around
your body, and you may feel very relaxed and even slightly sleepy.
 Avoid breathing into the chest area of your lungs. Your right hand should
remain motionless. If your right hand is rising and falling, you need to
focus on moving your breathing further down into your gut. Breathing
into your chest simulates what may happen if you feel angry or nervous.
 Keep practising the technique of diaphragmatic breathing daily until
you can reach that relaxed state very quickly. Then practise the
technique while sitting upright. Once you have mastered the technique
when sitting upright, you are ready to use the technique just prior to an
interview – perhaps when you are sitting in reception – to call forth that
deep feeling of relaxation.

Top sportspeople from golfers and tennis players to footballers and Formula
1 drivers all recognise that visualisation can be a powerful technique for
helping to create successful outcomes. Amazingly, scientists have found
that people who are asked to visualise exercising a muscle can actually
build up strength in that muscle without ever stepping into a gym.
Again, this stems from the link between your brain, your body, and your
behaviour. If you can think about how a successful interview will look and
feel, you are much more likely to be able to behave in that fashion during
an actual interview.
Practise visualising success in a quiet place. Close your eyes and picture
yourself getting dressed in your favourite interview outfit. Imagine
yourself walking confidently into a reception area. It doesn’t matter if you
have never seen the building you are going to be interviewed in; the
important bit is visualising yourself succeeding, not the specifics of the
building or the room you will be interviewed in. See in your mind’s eye
how confidently you shake hands, smile, and make polite conversation
with the interviewer. See yourself answering the interviewer’s questions
in a positive and enthusiastic manner.
Paint as vivid a picture in your mind as you can. If you can make the scene
vivid enough, you will be able to trick your body into thinking that it is
reality. You can literally think your body into releasing calming endorphins
into your bloodstream. The more times you can visualise what success
looks like, the more likely you will be to behave in that confident fashion
when it comes to actual interviews.


The very best candidates do not simply think through the questions they
might be asked and visualise them. The very best candidates practise
speaking their answers out loud.
Actors preparing for a big performance on stage do not simply sit quietly
and read through their lines. They rehearse and practise out loud. They try
to speak their lines in the same tone of voice and use the same body
movements that they expect to use in front of a live audience. The same
goes for successful interview candidates. The best candidates say their
interview responses out loud using a confident tone of voice while using
their posture, facial expressions and body language as if they were
speaking to a live interviewer.
The only difference is that you should practise talking about themes
rather than learning your lines off by heart and repeating them verbatim
every time. You never know precisely what question an interviewer might
ask you. So rather than get too wedded to a particular way of answering
a question, think about practising out loud the key points you want to
get across.

There are several ways you could practise.

 Practise in front of a mirror. Flick to a random question in the index at
the end of the book and read the question out loud as if an interviewer
has asked you it. Then respond out loud. Watch yourself in the mirror
and try to observe whether your body language is appropriate too.
 Record your performance using a video camera, a webcam, or even a
voice recorder. Watch yourself or at least listen to your voice and be
critical about your performance. Listen for ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ or other pauses and stutters and try to eliminate them. Observe your body
language and consider whether you appear enthusiastic and positive

Run mock interviews
The best way to rehearse is to ask friends or trusted acquaintances to ask
you questions so you can practise responding to a live person. Perhaps
ask a friend to flick through either the index or Chapters 4 to 8 of this
book to find appropriate questions to throw at you. Once you have
practised the most frequently-asked interview questions, you could invite
your friend to ask you questions that they have been asked in interviews
so you can practise improvising.
Ask your friend to take some notes on your responses so you can evaluate
them together. After the interview, you and your mock interviewer should
go back over your answers and consider the questions that you may have
struggled with. Ideally, you would also record your performance so you
can hear what you actually said as well as observe your body language
and tone of voice during the mock interview.
Try to practise with different friends and acquaintances too. If you keep
practising with only one friend, you may find that you learn his or her
personal interview style and become quite adept at performing in front of
them. But your interviewer is likely to be a complete stranger, so try to
practise answering questions from as many different people as you can.
I realise that some people dislike role playing. But this really is the best
method for sharpening up your interview technique. So deal with your
discomfort and ask as many people as you can to rehearse with you.


 Identify and stamp out negative thoughts about yourself. Write them
down and challenge them, then replace them with short, positive
statements that you can repeat to yourself to buoy your confidence.
 Use the diaphragmatic breathing technique to melt away tension.
 Practise vivid mental visualisation to trick your brain into releasing
hormones into your bloodstream that will enhance your mood and calm
your nerves.
 Practise, practise, practise. Rehearse on your own as well as with
different friends and acquaintances. I really cannot overstate the
importance of practising interview responses out loud!.