Tag Archives: fight-or-flight

Riding the Rush!

by John Buckley

Interview Stress: How to Make It Work for You

As a salesperson, I know the first sale I have to make to every new customer is me. They are asking themselves, “Do I want to do business with this guy? Can I trust him? Do I believe he can/will deliver what is promised?” That sure sounds like an interview doesn’t it? I’ve understood and been comfortable with the need to establish trust/create confidence with prospects for (umm) a few years now.  So, why do I get nervous going on an interview?

Interviews are a sales call. No matter what your resume says, while you are in job search, you are a salesperson.  So, what’s different? Maybe it’s because I am the whole bundle for sale. In a job interview, I’m not just the spokesperson for a company with great products and services, and a seasoned support and service staff to back it up. It’s all… just…me. Just the thought brings the rising chill of stress.

I’ll bet you’ve been there too; sitting in the lobby waiting for your interview with a company on your target list..sweating bullets.  You’ve studied this company front to back, top to bottom. You know their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. You know you have the skills and cojones to burnish the good and mitigate the bad. You should be stoked to go in there, pound your chest a little and prove it. Well, actually, you are. All that weird dancing in your veins is adrenaline.

Adrenaline is a hormone your body produces in response to stress. It prepares your body to respond to what you in the animal core of your brain perceive as danger. Interviews, while challenging, are not a fight to the death. Since we (hopefully) don’t have predators hunting us, and depending on your idea of fun (skydiving?), you may not be used to the rush of adrenaline or how to make it work for you.

The following tips are copied whole from a landing page for the Interview Success Formula, an online product that promises to make you more effective in an interview. I AM NOT PROMOTING THIS PRODUCT. I don’t know anything more about it than I read on this one page. That being said, their tips on how to handle pre-interview jitters are right on.

Here they are:

First, focus on the job ahead of you. Think about the main points you want to convey during the interview. Anticipate potential questions. Then envision yourself successfully responding. Imagine yourself asking specific questions, and the interviewer’s positive response to them. In short, review what you want to do, and envision yourself being successful while you do it.

Second, believe in your message. When people are fighting for causes they believe in, their passion helps them to overcome their nerves. You too can embrace passion. Believe in how this job will benefit you.* Recognize the opportunity you have, and believe this opportunity is worth fighting for.

Believe in your ability to deliver on the job. You have the talent to perform, or you wouldn’t have even made it to the job interview.  Prove it in the interview. Don’t let your nerves cause you to give up without a fight.

Third, take back control of your body. Concentrate on your breathing by keeping it deep and slow. Calmly breathe in for a slow count to five, then slowly breathe out for the same five-count. Do this for a full two minutes. Move your body to a confident position. Sit up straight and tall. Let your head match and be straight and forward. Move your hands into the power-pose. Let your finger-tips touch and push your palms apart.

Fourth, try to break the tension. Smile to yourself. Think of a funny situation and have a private laugh. Before you walk in, do the ‘hokey pokey’ or ‘shake it out’. In the waiting room, look around you and try to find humor in the situation. For instance picture every person in the room being a type of dog and what that dog would look.

Finally, never let the nerves be an excuse to under-prepare for your interview. Never say, “why bother trying? I’m just going be a nervous wreck the minute I walk through the door.” Invest the time to prepare the right way, and you will find yourself like the athlete in the big game. Your mind will know what to do, and you will know what to say.

* ”Believe in how this job will benefit you.” OK, fine. But, you also want to believe in your heart and be ready to articulate how you will benefit the job/company/boss. You are the answer to all THEIR problems!  You will make all THEIR wildest dreams come true!

“…opportunity is worth fighting for.”  “Don’t…give up without a fight.” Or, “Why bother trying (Run away!)?”

You’ve heard the term “fight-or-flight.” That’s what adrenaline prepares your body to do. That’s why you think the thoughts above. Most animals respond by instinct. We, being the highly evolved species we are, get to choose.

If you know what you want, if you have prepared for it, and, now that you know what the hell is going on in your belly, the choice is easy.

Go knock ‘em dead!  Figuratively, please!


So, how do you feeeel about this? I’d love to hear from you.  Please comment below.

John Buckley is a senior sales and marketing professional with experience in lead generation, business development, account management, sales training and support, and customer service in technology related businesses and services.