Preparing to present: Managing the last few hours before interview

When preparing for an interview many people make it that much harder in the last few hours before the big day. Preparation is essential, but so too is down time. At H-Training we emphasize the need for a break in the last few hours before you sit your interview. A lot will depend on what time of the day your interview is. Morning is obviously ideal, but afternoon interviews run the risk of allowing your anxiety to elevate as you think your way through breakfast and on to lunch.

And it is important here to clarify what we mean by break. This does not constitute sitting in a room staring out the window and envisioning all of the possible calamities that could befall you on the day. What we mean is getting away from thinking about your interview. Taking time for yourself to just be.

We regularly suggest mindfulness to our clients as part of a strategy for dealing with anxiety. However, one of the key tenants of mindfulness is that when we pay intimate attention to our physical selves, by proxy, we begin to relax. The same is true of many other activities. Our suggestions range from reading something for fun, going to the cinema, watching something funny on Netflix to playing with your children or, perhaps best of all: exercise. Any and all of the above may not take your mind off things completely, however it will help to alleviate some of the tension.

As we continue to study the human brain (perhaps the most complex presence in the known universe; if not the least understood) we are increasing our awareness of how we operate. One interesting assertion suggests that our sense of humor actually forms a part of our survival mechanics. This is useful too know as you navigate the tension in the lead up to your big interview. By finding a way to laugh (in the face of it all) you are providing yourself with a surefire release valve, that can help you to alleviate the pressure.

Unfortunately, many candidates simply answer the call of their anxiety and prepare themselves to within an inch of their lives. They stay up late reading over notes, trying to consume as much information as possible before the day. Little surprise they sleep fitfully only to wake up early and go through everything again, taking little reprieve until they walk out of the interview. The problem with too much stress is that it simply affects performance (not to mention interrupted sleep). If you are not giving your mind some well-deserved respite you are relying on white-knuckling your way through your interview.

This may work for you, but it will be far less stressful if you trust in your preparation a little more and factor in some headspace. Whatever variety of it you can find will make the difference on the day. If your mind is cluttered and you are on high alert though out the night and days leading up to your interview then you are far more likely to stumble or induce more stress than if you find some breathing room. We cannot emphasize this enough.

Nervous and agitated candidates are very easy to identify and it does not send a good message. If you are displaying evidence of your stress in the interview the thinking will be, ‘will he/she respond to stress like this in the role.’ Furthermore, even a measure of clarity can better equip you to demonstrate sound reasoning on the day.

Preparing your argument for getting the role is important. However, preparing to present is just as important. Giving yourself the added resource of more ‘you time’ to draw from could be the difference maker on that all-important day.

H-Training is a premium learning and development organisation based in Cork, Ireland but in operation internationally.

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