I had an e-mail this morning from a friend whose son, with a brand new MBA, is having trouble with interviews. “He gets anxious, can’t seem to talk, or to get his breath.”
My daughter had trouble with interviews when she first graduated. She had bought a navy blue suit for the process, had wiped her wet, sweaty hands on her skirt and discovered, to her horror, that her hands were blue.
The anxiety symptoms may be different, but the antidotes are the same. Here are two:
Breathing: The body has 2 modes of breathing; the normal mode, when sleeping, say, and the stress mode. When we're in the stress mode, our breathing is intended to close off the throat in order to give us upper-arm strength. Then we panic, and concentrate on where we feel the constriction - in the chest and throat. This is NORMAL - THE BODY IS GOING TO DO IT DESPITE US. However, we can override that breathing mode.
At home, lie on your back and observe your breathing - observe, don't try to do anything - feel the abdominal muscles expand and contract. Then sit on a chair, place your elbows on your knees and observe your breathing - feel your back muscles open and contract. Now sit up in a chair, as you would in an interview. Find a posture in which you can feel both sets of muscles expanding and contracting. Practice this breathing, and your muscles will remember how this feels - you'll be able to move more quickly into this mode eace time you repeat it. Then, before you go into an interview, practice your breathing. If your mind switches into "what am I going to say?" switch it back to breathing.
Objective: If you focus on the interviewer, rather than on yourself, your anxiety will be reduced. If your objective is to find out whether this job would be a good fit for you, rather than to prove that you will be a good fit for the job, your anxiety will be reduced.