Looking for work is generally a miserable undertaking. No matter how much education and experience you have, you are in a powerless and vulnerable position.
You spend days preparing for an interview, trying to build up your self-confidence, create a relaxed, competent demeanor to disguise the turmoil and anxiety inside, and practice answers to questions you hope the interviewer will ask.
Is there any way to feel really calm as you approach the receptionist, uncomfortably aware that there are other people waiting, perhaps applicants for the same position? Sit down, take a deep breath, and listen to your inner voice.
Welcome the anxiety that is coursing through your veins. It is a free, non-addictive stimulant that is going to keep you on your toes and keep you hyper-alert throughout the interview. Remind yourself that without that anxiety, you would present yourself as lifeless and flat.
Remember the lists you have made: of your personal qualities, your strengths, the weaknesses you have identified which can really be presented as additional strengths. Let your mind slowly scavenge through the mental picture of your resume and pound those bullet-pointed skills into your skull.
Focus on your worth as a human being, your importance to those who know you and love you. You are about to be judged by someone who doesn't know you at all and who will have less than 60 minutes to assess your qualities. Self-preservation requires that you don't buy into that judgment. You may, or you may not, be offered be offered the position. Whatever the result, remind yourself that it is not the entire you being accepted or rejected, just your skills and qualities matched against a company's needs. The job interview is a dynamic process with everyone present involved in the flow. If you feel awkward or very uneasy, it may be that the company or the interviewer(s) are not a good fit for you and not being offered the job may, in the long run, be a blessing in disguise.
By all means, review your interview performance afterwards while it is still fresh in your mind. If you think of better ways you could have answered some questions, write the new answers down so you can review before your next interview. As soon as possible, send a “Thank you" note, restating the personal strengths you want to emphasize. If possible, e-mail or fax that day.
The next two steps are critical to maintaining your enthusiasm and job hunting energy:
a) Relax and let out the stress. Don't cross-examine every question asked and every answer given or your confidence will erode further in an avalanch of second-guessing and self-criticism. You have enough stress on your plate right now just worrying about whether or not you'll receive an offer.
b) Be kind to yourself. If you can afford it, take the family out to dinner to celebrate your having obtained an interview and having survived one of the most pressured experiences you will ever undergo. If finances don't allow that, at least talk to your family about the details, let them show you a little support, and give yourself a whole day off from the job search to relax, relax, relax.
Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a respected Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers’ Compensation Courts. Author of an interactive and emotionally supportive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at http://www.virginiabola.com