It’s the morning of your big interview and you’re a nervous wreck. Your palms are sweating, you can’t find your resume and you’ve become convinced you’re going to bomb your big day.
Unfortunately, nerves are the ultimate enemy to any interview success story. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are; if you find yourself in a panic, you’re likely to undercut your chances of success.
A case of nerves can lead to major nonverbal mistakes. For example, 67% of interviewees fail to make adequate eye contact and 33% fidget too much. Don’t despair if you’re nervous for your big day — just remember that you’re the boss of your brain. Calm your nerves with these surprising mental hacks, and get ready to nail your next interview.
Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique used to identify negative thoughts, and then dispute or reframe those thoughts into more positive challenges. Recent research reveals that people perform better when they look at difficult situations as a challenge instead of a threat — and a job interview presents a prime opportunity to turn a difficult situation into a challenge.
When you think about it, interviewing is a solo activity. Research has found this solo status can be extremely stressful, because it increases visibility and performance pressure. When all eyes are on you in the interview, the implications for making a mistake are much higher. It’s no wonder going on a job interview can feel so threatening.
However, research has found that cognitive appraisal, or how you view a situation, has a big impact on how well you perform in these instances. If you see the interview as a challenge to tackle and overcome instead of a threatening and scary situation, you increase your odds of success. Before the interview, create a little mantra for yourself so you can remember that this is a challenge to overcome — not a frightening experience. Reframing how you interpret the interview gives you a better chance of success.
Can chewing gum contribute to interview success? The answer might just surprise you. Researchers at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom found that workers who chew gum have lower levels of occupational stress. The same research team also found that students who chewed gum regularly reported lower stress levels and the ability to complete a greater load of academic work.
Meanwhile, researchers from St. Lawrence University found that gum-chewing benefits working memory, episodic memory and general information-processing speed. The chewing motion gets blood flowing to the head, leading to neural arousal and making it easier for you to focus and concentrate.
Chewing some gum before a big interview may help you focus on your talking points, remember important information and rid some of the troublesome stress that’s bringing down your performance. Popping in a stick of gum doesn’t just ensure minty-fresh breath, it might also improve your interviewing skills. Just don’t forget to get rid of the gum before the actual interview! No interviewer wants to see how many bubbles you can blow or how loudly you can pop your gum.
Smile like you mean it (and you will)
While you’re focused on the questions interviewers might ask and the qualifications you want to highlight, you might be missing an important interview weapon in your arsenal: Your smile. A full 38% of job seekersget so wrapped up in the stress of the interview that they forget to smile.
Smiling is important, especially when meeting new people, since it helps send the message that you’re friendly and easy to work with. This is especially important when interviewing for client-facing or sales jobs. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a job as a medical sales representative, good people skills are a must — smiling shows you can connect easily with others.
As an added bonus, smiling in the interview just might make you feel happier and more relaxed. Researchers studying the phenomenon have found that expressions may influence emotions. Therefore, if you smile — even when extremely stressed in an interview setting — you might actually start to feel happier. Happiness may translate to confidence, and your potential employers are likely to pick up on this. So don’t be afraid to flash those pearly whites; they just might nab you the job.
Mirror body language
It’s a fact of life that we tend to like people who remind us of ourselves; humans are a little egocentric that way. Therefore, mirroring body language in an interview can lead to more positive feelings from the interviewer. Research has found that mimicry can leave people with more positive feelings, and even make others more persuasive.
If you want to persuade an interviewer that you’re the perfect person for the job, subtly mirror nonverbal gestures. This includes pitch and tone, body language, posture and body orientation. Don’t go overboard and copy your interviewer’s every gesture; remember you want to build a bond, not creep them out. Being subtly aware of body language, however, can make you a smarter interview subject and a more appealing hire.
Interviews can be stressful, but it’s important to remember that you’re in charge of your own destiny. By utilizing some of these mental hacks, you may just nail the interview and land your dream job.