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Do you find job interviews completely nerve-wrecking? While having some nerves is completely understandable, if your anxiety has a negative impact on how you perform during interviews and is also taking a toll on your health and wellbeing, it is important to learn ways to manage it more effectively.

Lauren Povey, a cognitive behavioural therapist working at Priory Hospital Chelmsford, has outlined techniques that you can use before and during job interviews to help calm your nerves. These cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques can help you become more aware of your thoughts that cause you to become nervous, and give you the opportunity to develop strategies so that these thoughts don’t become so destructive.

Reframe your negative thoughts

Ruminating over thoughts like “I’m not going to get this job” or “I bet I’m going to mess up” can result in you convincing yourself that something will go wrong,  which in turn can cause you to feel apprehensive about the upcoming interview.

Being able to identify and reframe such negative thoughts can help you to move past them quickly before they have a chance to take hold and dent your confidence. To master the reframing technique, spend time answering the following questions every evening:

  • What caused you to become anxious today?

Was it when you were on the phone to a recruiter? Was it when you thought about the upcoming interview, or when you re-read over the job description?

  • What did you think at that moment?

Did you think negatively about your performance in the upcoming interview? Did you imagine the worst possible scenario, or that your interviewers wouldn’t like you?

  • What will happen if you continue to think this way?

How will your negative thoughts and nervousness impact your future career? Could it also affect your health, wellbeing and relationships?

  • How could you challenge the initial negative thought you had?

Remind yourself that you have been invited to the interview, so the interviewers clearly think that you have the right skills and experience, and want to talk to you about them

  • What would be a healthier way of thinking about the upcoming interview?

Could you think “this is a good opportunity for me to talk about my skills and experience” or “I’m going to be well-prepared so that I know how to answer possible questions well”?

When practised every night, reframing negative thoughts will start to come naturally to you. You will have the ability to pause and move past a negative thought the moment one pops into your mind, stopping it from snowballing into a damaging level of nervousness.

Visualise your success instead of your failure

Before an interview, do you tend to imagine all the things that could possibly go wrong? This type of negative visualisation can cause nerves to skyrocket as you convince yourself that your interview will go badly.

Rather than focusing on the worst possible scenario, spend time visualising the interview going well. Give yourself time and space when practising this technique. Find a quiet, calm and relaxing place and make yourself comfortable. Calm yourself by closing your eyes and taking in a few slow deep breaths. Visualise the upcoming meeting, and make it feel like you are actually there. What are you going to be wearing? What do your interviewers look like? What noises are you likely to hear?

If you have been worrying about a particular interview question, imagine yourself answering it perfectly. If you are concerned about appearing nervous, picture yourself poised and confident. During each visualisation, you can either focus on a particular moment that has been bothering you or run through the interview from start to finish.

Remain in your calm space for 5 to 10 minutes after the visualisation. Try to do this regularly as it can be a good confidence-booster and also gives you a chance to rehearse for your interviews.

Quieten your inner critic

If your inner critic is loud before and during interviews, and says such things as: “you’re going to stutter over your words” or “your interviewers are going to have a good laugh after you leave”, it is important to work on silencing it.

Prepare a series of motivating phrases that you can use during moments when your inner critic is likely to appear. Some mantras to think about learning include: “I’m well-prepared and ready to show off my credentials” or “this may be tough, but I am ready for it”.

Also, don’t let your inner critic take over during an interview. Have simple phrases like: “keep smiling” or “sit up straight” to hand, as this positive self-talk can help to keep you focused and confident.  And don’t become overly critical afterwards, as this is unhelpful. Instead, repeat phrases such as: “I’m glad I had the experience” or “I’m proud I went” to keep you uplifted.

When to get help for your anxiety

If your anxiety has been worsening or has been having more of an impact on your day-to-day life, it is important to speak to your doctor. During your appointment, talk about your symptoms and the impact that they have been having on your life, so that they can help you get access to any support and treatment that you need.

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