How do I handle nervousness?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,136
    Career counselor Karen Chopra lists some tips on calming jitters before a job interview.

    Host: How do I handle nervousness?

    Karen Chopra: You want to be nervous before an interview. Nerves are the way that our body and our mind help us to sit up, pay attention and focus and so a certain amount of nerves on the day of the interview is quite appropriate and indeed desirable. If you are too calm, you maybe a little too laid back for the interviewer's taste. So, don't worry about being nervous, it's normal. If you have got a level of nervousness that is interfering with your ability to speak in full sentences or to focus on what's going on in the interview, then you are going to want to do something to settle yourself down.

    My favorite technique is just getting used to taking deep breaths and using those to just soothe yourself. So what I want you do before the interview happens, several days before if you can manage this is to take a few minutes several times a day, sit quietly at your desk or in a quiet place, put your hand on your belly and start talking nice deep breaths in and out. They should be deep enough that you can actually feel your hand moving on your belly, that means it's getting all the way down into the diaphragm. This is called diaphragmatic breathing.

    What you want to do while you are breathing nice and deep and slow is close your eyes and take yourself to a nice and safe place, a place that you enjoy, whether it's the beach or the mountains or a favorite room or a favorite place. Go there and just focus on what you are hearing and seeing and smelling and tasting while you are in that place. Just take nice, deep breaths and just relax your body, feel your body relax as you are taking those deep breaths.

    You only need to do that for a couple of minutes and then you can come back to the room. Then do it again in the afternoon and do it again right before you go to bed. Do this several times a day for as many days before the interview as you can manage. What that does is it trains the body to relax whenever there is a nice deep breath and then on the day of the interview, all you need to do is take a nice deep breath and just feel the relaxation in your body. Even if you haven't done any practicing, a couple of nice deep breaths will help, but the practice ahead of time can really help address nerves for clients.

    The other trick that I advice clients who are nervous is to take a second or two when you settle down in the chair. What you want to do is to line yourself up right against the back of the chair unless this is a really squishy sofa, so, you can feel your spine all the way against the back of the chair that makes sure that your shoulders are up and then relax your body into it and if there are arms on the chair, just gently lay your arms out on the arms of the armchair and unclench your fist, unclench your toes, just take a second or two to relax into the chair and then look at the interviewer and smile.

    Often that will settle you down enough, that you can at least focus on the questions that are coming in. So those are a couple of tips for dealing with nervousness in an interview.