4 ways to reduce interview stress

In Part 1 of this post, I discussed the developmental psychological concepts underlying interview stress. In this Part 2, I cover four concepts to help reduce this stress.

How to reduce interview stress

So, we’ve talked about some developmental psychological underpinnings of interview stress in Part 1 of this post, but how do we manage them? Four concepts can be helpful, including changing mindsets, understanding the importance of a clan, dealing with rejection, and taking available control.

First, change your mindset about an interview being entirely about you.

An interview absolutely must be a two-way street. You are interviewing the interviewers as much as they are interviewing you. You need to make sure the job is right for you professionally, culturally, and personally. If you are not given the opportunity to have your questions addressed, this is certainly a red flag.

An interview shouldn’t feel like a firing squad. It should be an active two-way conversation with effective two-way communication. I’ve been in too many interviews where the panelists interviewing me walk back and forth across the room, bombarding me with questions from a script they’re reading. Then, with a couple of minutes left, they ask me if I have any quick questions for them. For me, this is always the last interview; that’s not the kind of organization I want to be a part of.

Remember, you’re looking for an organization with a culture that reflects your values ​​and that you’ve wanted to be a part of for years. It is one of the most important decisions you make in life. You certainly deserve the opportunity to interview the organization as much as you are being interviewed to determine your eligibility and make an informed decision.

Second, understand the evolutionary psychological importance of a clan.

Psychologically, you’re not just interviewing to join an organization, you’re interviewing to join a clan. As mentioned in Part 1, clans provide security, strength, companionship, and survivability. If the clan does not accept you, these factors are at risk.

Cognitively, we don’t think this way on a conscious level; however, our evolutionary unconscious brain does. This leads to what I call an evolutionary mismatch: a tension between evolutionary unconscious drives and contemporary conscious thoughts, leading to considerable stress. Keep in mind that technical skills and experience required for the job are usually assumed at the time of the interview.

An interview is almost entirely about clan adjustment. Interviewers want to determine if you are compatible with the inherent culture and if they can have a relationship with you. By doing your research and asking detailed questions, you should gain a solid understanding of the culture and norms present. If these are right for you, focus on conveying yourself in light of the clan’s culture, both as an individual and collectively as part of the clan (team or organization).

Also, never try to be who you think the interviewer wants you to be. Usually you will be wrong. Not to mention, this is inauthentic, creates stress in itself, and tends to lead to the rejection you were looking to avoid, or if you get the job, your inauthenticity will likely come out after you start. Finally, while interviewing for a new job that requires relocation, be sure to involve your family and assess your personal fit in the new community as a whole.

Third, address reality and the fear of rejection.

Of course, we don’t always get the job we interviewed for. This happens to all of us, including me! I know it can be difficult, but don’t allow yourself to think of this as a personal rejection or even necessarily a rejection of your resume, background, or interview performance. It is usually a question of cultural fit or very specific experience sought by the interviewers.

Assuming you are confident that there is a professional, cultural, and personal fit, an important aspect of an interview is building a relationship with the interviewers and looking for common ground. All humans have an evolving psychological need for social interaction, acceptance, and belonging.

By focusing on developing proactive relationships, even with the brief time allotted during most interviews, you can more easily assess and, if appropriate, achieve a fit with the clan, providing the opportunity for a more effective interview process and significant. However, if you’ve done all you can at the interview and don’t get the job, move on.

Rumination, self-pity, self-doubt, or negative self-talk won’t get you the job, will cause more stress, and most importantly, will hinder you in future interviews. Learn from the interview, send thank you notes to interviewers, and approach future interviews with curiosity and enthusiasm.

Fourth, gain some control of the interview process by using psychological concepts that reiterate your strengths.

When I work with people in interviews, I teach them to try to gain an internal locus of control, which can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. A good technique is to start the interview with a single question to the interviewers, “What did you like about my resume that made you want to interview me?” This question can usually flow quite naturally during the introduction stage.

This is a powerful way to gain some control early on and lead the subsequent conversation with your positive attributes. It is one of the most effective interview tips I can suggest. This question begins the interview with your strengths rather than your weaknesses or by criticizing your resume. It also tells you what interviewers like about you so you can reinforce what they like throughout the interview.

By having this critical information, you can employ additional psychological concepts such as the following:

  • Primacy and topicality (start and end the interview with the positive aspects mentioned by the interviewers).
  • Confirmation bias (focus on the positive things they like about you during the interview, which confirms their beliefs).
  • Operant conditioning (reinforce the positive things about you that led them to interview you).
  • Cognitive reappraisal (change the negative aspects that arise during the interview to their positive aspects to reinforce them even more).

These can take time to practice, but once mastered, they can completely redefine your approach and interview experience.

In summary

The interview is stressful for all of us. Stress comes largely from unconscious evolutionary psychological factors. By understanding these factors and following the four tips above, you can make the interview a much more pleasant (or at least not as stressful) experience.

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