Mindset for Success: How to Psychologically Prepare for a Job Interview


Sometimes people who have great CVs, are very experienced, and are highly skilled do not get past the interview stage and miss out on the job due to not being mentally prepared. It could be that psychological blockers, such as pessimism, distraction, self-doubt, stress, lack of confidence, low self-esteem or fear sabotaged their interview performance. A negative mindset will cause people to feel low and undermine confidence and positive expectations; ultimately impacting their performance in an interview.

A lot can be riding on the interview and this can cause many candidates to feel anxious and nervous. Let’s face it. The interview is a competition and there is no second prize. When facing this kind of pressure, some lucky people have the knack of ‘rising to the occasion.’ They are able to use the adrenaline and perform when it counts. For others, increased stress can mean that they are unable to be themselves and perform at their best in the interview. Very high stress can lead to a decline in performance. People complain of forgetting things, talking too much, not saying enough, coming across as uneasy or jittery, stammering or moving awkwardly, appearing nervy. All of these behaviours are the opposite of what people normally want to do in an interview and may give the employer the impression that the person is not confident, incompetent, would not relate well to other staff or customers, or are hiding something.

In an interview you want to show your best self, be able to speak easily and confidently about your experience, attributes and goals, to relate to the employer and leave a positive impression.
In order to perform at your best, you will need to ensure you are psychologically prepared for the job interview. The following strategies are used by sports and performance experts to aid in the mental preparation of top athletes, performers and business people to give them the performance edge. These mental techniques can also be used for jobseekers:

1. Preparation.
There is no substitute for thorough preparation and many people will feel stressed if they have not adequately prepared for the interview. Reduce stress levels by taking the time to:
• Consider possible questions and responses
• Research the organisation
• Speak with referees
• Plan what you will wear to the interview
• Think about examples of achievements, challenges and new ideas, and be comfortable speaking about these things
• Rehearse saying the things you want to say, or write out your main points so they are at the forefront of your mind
• Check the route to the appointment and plan to arrive early
• Know the questions you want to ask about the position, company etc

2. Helpful Thinking
Any top performing athlete, musician or business person knows that thinking that is negative, self- critical or self- doubting will create bad feelings and stress. Pessimism or lack of confidence will come across in your interview and you will not be able to sell yourself convincingly to the employer. Instead, focus on your positives, be kind to yourself and give yourself a chance. Use your thinking to create an attitude of determination, confidence and success. An optimistic approach has been proven to reduce stress and increase feelings of wellbeing and positivity. This is vital in being mentally prepared going into a job interview.

3. Visualisation
This technique, also called mental rehearsal, is a powerful psychological strategy used by top athletes and performers. The idea is to find time and space to quietly create mental images (like a movie in your mind) of you going to the interview, performing well and feeling good afterwards. The visualization should not be rushed and should contain details such as the clothes you will be wearing and things you will be saying. It should always be positive – you don’t want to rehearse anything negative! It is well worth researching visualisation and using this technique for situations such as interviews, presentations or other performances. If done properly, the brain reacts as though you have really had these positive interview experiences. In addition, research also shows that mental rehearsal decreases stress and increases confidence.

4. Relaxation
Reduce stress by keeping your mind and body relaxed. Exercise, meditate, spend time outdoors, get enough quality sleep, eat properly and avoid drugs and alcohol. A great tip is to practice deep breathing. For each breath, hold for a few seconds and then exhale very, very slowly. Deep breathing reduces the heart rate and lowers blood pressure, so you will immediately feel more relaxed. Do this at any time of stress or when you want to calm yourself. You can use the deep breathing technique right before you go into the interview.

5. Perseverance
And finally perseverance! It is understandable to feel disappointment, but the mark of every peak performer is to move on from this quickly and continue to use positive thinking to keep your confidence up. Note the things you felt you did well, and make notes of those things you felt could be improved. You may ask the employer for feedback and take it on board, but don’t take the rejection personally. It may not be about you, but simply that there was someone else more suitable for whatever reason. See the experience as valuable practice that will serve you well in the next interview.