From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

January 2022
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Interviewing. Ideas to address nervousness
Filed under: Interviewing, Networking, Mature professionals, Post-docs, Technicians
Posted by: site admin @ 7:29 am

“Don’t pick me to be interviewed, I am too
nervous!” she said.  “Well, I will do it, if you
can help me overcome my nervousness…”
she thought, then blurted out in excitement.

Needless to say, S was one of the two interviewees
chosen Thursday for the mock interview

During most interview situations, we all will notice
one or more physiological effects that tell ourselves
that our adrenaline is flowing.  Body sugar is
consumed that makes our mouths feel dry.  We
may speak faster, get out of breath or blurt
things out due to faster breathing rates.  Your
body can feel like it is “on alert”.  As more blood
is flowing, you may change in body temperature
(either up or down) in hands, foreheads, arms
and even flush.

My perception of these situations is that
they are normal and can be used to enhance
my performance, if I
      - am aware of them,
      - manage them and
      - look for my personal control measures.

We can not turn them off.  If we do, we lose the
advantage they give us– positive energy,
alertness, and peak performance.

In fact, these same behaviors affect top
athletes and entertainers.

What we learn is that there is a “tipping point”
for these behaviors where we go from
having the adrenaline flow helping to
hindering us.

S did quite nicely in the interview.  We
formed a common ground in our
conversation, as all interviewers strive
to do.  Once this was done, we explored
a few behavioral questions, traditional
questions and she posed some questions
of her own.  After the interview, she
remarked that her abs were as tight as
they have ever been, her mouth was dry,
and her hands were moist to the touch. 
S displayed a quite competent performance
in which she smiled, made appropriate
eye contact, and made a very good case
for herself.  She learned she could do
this despite the unease she felt.

She needed to establish that she could
still perform well, despite the unease.

Yet, we also talked that this can take
a lot out of a person and if done long
enough, a person can lose the composure.
So, managing the physiological effects is
important.  How do you do this?

- Sleep well the night before.
- Eat appropriately for yourself (this is different
   for most individuals.  Some eat well before
   hand, others prefer to have light yet healthy
- Hydrate, just like runners.  (Consider speakers,
  athletes who hydrate regularly during
- Hold a good body posture, sitting on the front
  half of the seat with feet flat on the floor.
(For S body posture was a telltale sign. 
She displayed a slouching body contour that
compressed her abdomen and crossed her
legs.  She was twisting herself up in a pretzel.
No wonder she felt very tight.)
- Visit the restroom before your interview,
  and feel comfortable, run water on your hands
  to bring them to an agreeable temperature.
- Check yourself in the mirror.

Kristen Welcome has pointed out that it
can be helpful to wear something that has
special meaning to you.  It shows you how
much someone believes in you.

Remember, our nervousness is normal and
caused by adrenaline flow in uncertain
situations.  Once we learn we can use it
to our advantage, we have a “tipping point”
where it can dominate us, and we can take
positive steps to manage it, we will look
forward to interview situations.

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