Tips and Tricks for managing stress during an interview

Alison Cigna
  • 3 Min read

When your brain recognizes that a situation or an object is dangerous for you, it will set up a whole series of chain reactions which have only one goal: to protect you. The purpose of all these reactions is to help you in the two possibilities that you normally have in case of danger: flee or fight (the famous fight or flight in English). You know these different symptoms by heart: your heart starts to beat like a drum, you are more breathless than if you had run a marathon, you sweat more than at a raclette party, your intestines samba, your muscles contract … All of this is supposed to help you run faster or hit harder. In theory, the idea is quite ingenious and the human body is well made.

The problem is, your brain can't tell the difference between a danger that threatens your life (a poisonous snake) and a danger that threatens your self-esteem (taking a rake, missing an interview, crashing an exam , etc.). It is therefore very likely that your body will put in place all of the chain reactions mentioned above in situations for which it is generally strongly advised not to flee or strike the other person (such as for example an interview with a future employer).

We will list below some ways that could help you manage your stress before an interview:

1. Prepare yourself

This is probably the most basic advice and it seems the most stupid at first glance. But it is still amazing. Did you ever feel that you had better control of your exam when you studied it the day before? It's the same for an interview. There are thousands of standard questions that all recruiters ask all day long and the Internet has had the good idea of identifying them for years. Do not prepare a memorized answer for each, but imagine the framework of your answer and you will be less caught off guard.

2. Avoid unnecessary stress

During my college years, Lorenzo got into the dirty habit of confusing the start time of the exam with the end time. Try to imagine Lorenzo's adrenaline rush when he saw us leaving the examination room when he himself was thinking of entering it.

Don't be like my friend Lorenzo: prepare your interview the day before. Check the schedule at least twice, check the route, get a little early if you want to have a tea nearby and write down the name of the person you need to meet.

3. Make your brain think that everything is fine

Neuroscience has given us a practical tool that is amazingly simple: cardiac coherence. Many refer to it as a relaxing breathing exercise, but it is much more than that.

I told you that your brain activates a series of chain reactions in dangerous situations. There are also a whole series of chain reactions that your brain will have to put in place once the danger has passed and that allow you to relax. What cardiac coherence does is make your brain believe, through calm breathing, that everything is fine and that there is no immediate danger. It activates all the reactions to relax you. It's beautiful, it's simple, it's scientific.

The exercise is as follows: for five minutes, breathe in for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds. You can do this up to five times a day and / or before a stressful event.

There are free cardiac coherence apps for smartphones on all platforms.

4. Ask for help

We are all different in our relationship to stress. Some manage it better than others, some like interviews while others are terrified of the very idea of having to speak in public.

Sometimes the stress in certain situations is so strong that it can turn into panic attacks and involve serious disabling problems in everyday life.

There is no shame in asking for help at these times. Specialists are trained for this and can help you in your difficulties. Websites such as that of the Commission of Psychologists (https://www.compsy.be/fr/) list approved professionals who can help you.

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