Before a job interview, are you motivated to perform to the best of your abilities, or do you mostly fret about the worst possible scenario?
If you do think negatively and focus on everything that could go wrong, this can cause you to become anxious and make you doubt your abilities, which can go on to impact the choices you make during the interview.
There are ways you can reduce the impact that your negative thoughts have on how you feel and behave. Lauren Povey, a cognitive behavioural therapist who treats people with anxiety at Priory Hospital Chelmsford, has outlined the strategies that you can put in place so that you can pause these negative thoughts and go into your interview motivated and with confidence.
Recognise and reframe your negative thoughts
At the end of every day, take the time to write down any moment when you became anxious. Focus on what you thought, how you felt and how you then went on to behave.
Doing this everyday – even on the days when you don't have a job interview – can help you to recognise the impact that your negative thoughts have on your emotions and behaviours, and gives you the opportunity to practise swapping them for something more optimistic.
1. What caused you to become anxious? Was it thinking about an upcoming interview? Was it answering practice questions?
2. What did you think at the time? Did you automatically think that you were going to perform badly on the day or that the interviewers wouldn't take you seriously?
3. What will happen if you continue to think this way? Will your anxiety stop you from being able to properly convey your skills and experience in job interviews? Will it go on to impact you throughout your career?
4. How can you challenge the initial thought you had? You know you are qualified for the role and will be able to do the job successfully
5. What is a healthier way of thinking about the situation? You may want to think "this will be intense but I know what I need to say to show them my capabilities"
6. What can you do next time you have a negative thought? Make a conscious effort not to dwell on your negative thoughts the next time they arise. When you feel them welling up, focus on your experience, achievements and skills instead
Once you have practised this technique and are well-versed in reframing your negative thoughts, you will be able to start pausing and redirecting yourself away from them the moment they arise so that they don't distract you in your job interview.
Visual your success instead of your failure
In the run up to your job interview, visualise what you want to achieve. This will act as a non-verbal instruction, training you to act confidently in moments when you otherwise would have been nervous.
• Find a private, calm space and make yourself comfortable. Take a few slow and deep breaths to calm yourself, and then close your eyes
• Set the scene – imagine what the room will look like and the number of interviewers in the room. Even try to think about what you will hear, smell and feel
• You can choose to go through the entire interview, where you imagine yourself poised, relaxed and focused when you are answering potential questions, and entering and exiting the room. Or you could focus on one part you are particularly nervous about, where you imagine yourself doing it perfectly and confidently
• Remain in the moment for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel relaxed
When you start to think negatively, go back to this place, to redirect yourself away from these thoughts, which could intensify.
Positive self-talk rather than a negative inner dialogue
During past interviews, have you found that you spur yourself on or shoot yourself down? If your inner dialogue tells you that you can't do something, that something will go wrong or that it will be too hard, work to swap this for positive self-talk.
In the hour before a job interview, change thoughts such as "this will go wrong" to "I can do this", to focus and motivate yourself.
During the interview, leave behind thoughts such as "this is going badly" in favour of a simple mantra such as "you are strong". Also, have instructional self-talk available, such as "sit straight" or "be positive".
You should continue with positive self-talk after the interview has finished. Don't instantly become critical about how you appeared or answered questions. Instead, praise yourself for the achievement you have made.
Over time, this can become a habit that sticks and helps you to improve your self-esteem and motivation.
When to get support for anxietyIf you find that you have feelings of anxiety which are persistent, are becoming more intense or are having a detrimental impact on your life, it is important that you visit your doctor. They will be able to advise on next steps and provide you with access to professional treatment if it is needed. Check out our anxiety treatment page for more information: https://www.priorygroup.com/mental-health/anxiety-treatment