Overcoming interview nerves

Many of us have suffered from nerves or fear at one time or another, but what one person may label as feeling fear, stress or nerves, a top athlete or performer may refer to as feeling 'pumped up' or attribute it to 'getting into the zone'. They are using, to their advantage, natural, normal physical and emotional sensations most of us experience before they perform by reframing how they perceive them.

If, however you are at a stage where your nerves are overwhelming you before or during an interview, here are some quick and easy techniques to help maintain balance for those interviews.

7:11 breathing

This regulates the breath, and helps promote emotional calm. It can be put to use anywhere.

Breathe in deeply for the count of 7 seconds and breathe out through the nose for 11 seconds, all through the nose. Count in your mind as you do this. Continue until you feel calmer.

The A.W.A.R.E technique

Each letter that comprises the AWARE technique, offers an effective step to initiating our 'observing self', a state which is unaffected by the drama of 'emotional hijacking'.

Accept the anxiety. The brain does not differentiate between perceived and actual danger. The perceived danger of an unknown interview situation where you are selling in your skills can be palpable. The symptoms that you are experiencing, are your body’s natural 'fight or flight' response. Your body is trying to get you ready and protect you from the perceived danger of the interview. Quietly think to yourself, 'I am experiencing [insert symptom]because my body is getting ready to perform and that’s okay. The interview is a strange situation and my body’s response is normal…' Acceptance of what is happening (rather than resisting it)accelerates your return to normality.

Watch the anxiety. The observing self helps you to distance yourself from the panic and regard it from the viewpoint of a detached, dispassionate onlooker. Observe what is happening, such as the quickened heartbeat and breath, the urge to run, the slight quiver in the voice. Be interested but detached in each of your symptoms, e.g. 'oh my stomach feels unsettled…I wonder how long this will last?'

Act normal. Focusing the mind on 'normal behaviour' helps normality to ensue. Chances are that others around you have not noticed that you are as nervous as you feel.Use the 7:11 breathing technique above to restore calm to your breath. Visualise yourself at a time when you were at your calmest and happiest. Notice the way you were holding yourself and what it was about you that looked so calm. Emulate that. You can be surprised how quickly your nerves subside when you 'step into character'. Repeat. Keep practising the steps above until you feel better.

Expect the best. A.W.A.R.E has worked for many others. Expect the best outcome. We often go where our minds lead us. I’m not advocating blind, positive thinking, however being open to a positive outcome can work wonders.

Shammi Shah is a solutions-focused psychotherapist and a hypnotherapist

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