How to Prepare for a High-Pressure Interview

December 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Career News and Advice

Right before a big game, athletes visualize their success. They make sure all of their equipment is present and working properly. They cultivate a sense of relaxed confidence by closing their eyes and breathing deeply. Although preparing for a high-pressure interview may not carry the same intensity as professional sports, the principles are the same. Mentally preparing for the interview can mean the difference between landing the job and continuing to search.

Cultivate the Right Mindset

Regardless of the interview, you need to cultivate the right mindset to deal with the pressure. Being overly nervous, excited or scared can result in conveying the wrong attitude to the hiring manager. According to The Wall Street Journal, you can help avoid misrepresenting yourself by employing the following practices:

  • Visualize Spend 15 minutes before your interview visualizing how you expect the interview to go. Imagine walking in the door with ideal posture, a friendly smile and a firm handshake. See yourself smiling and maintaining eye contact while providing clear and concise answers to the interviewer. Imagine yourself clearly explaining your qualifications and how they will help you in this role. For example, see yourself explaining how your masters degree in human resources will help you perform the job duties. Finally, see the interview ending with the hiring manager asking when you can start or saying to expect a callback. This practice will help prepare your mind for the interview and prepare you to maintain a positive disposition.
  • BreatheThis can be done while you are visualizing your perfect interview or before or after you’ve completed the visualization. With your eyes closed, take several long, deep breaths. Count the length of your inhales and exhales, and try to make each six to 10 seconds long. While exhaling, repeat a single word that embodies the attitude you would like to express. This may be “relax,” “calm” or “confident.”
  • Gain ConfidenceConfidence is perhaps the most important characteristic to cultivate for an interview. Several days before your interview, sit down and write out all of your strengths, accomplishments and skills. Review the job posting and consider how they can directly relate to this position. Be prepared to explain this correlation to the hiring manager.

Prepare the Practical Matters

After cultivating the right mindset, it’s time to prepare for the more practical side of things. Below are several items to prepare before you head out the door to the big interview.

  • Prepare Your AnswersWhile it’s unwise to have preset answers that sound robotic, have rough answers prepared for several common questions. According to The Telegraph, a publication dedicated to providing news and advice, there are several common questions asked in most interviews. Prepare your answers for each of the following questions:
    • What are your strengths?
    • Tell me about yourself.
    • What are your weaknesses?
    • Why did you leave your last job?
    • Why do you want this job?
    • Tell me about a scenario and how you dealt with it.
    • What are your career goals?
    • What to Wear, Where to GoThe last thing you want to worry about on the day of the interview is what you’ll be wearing. Make sure you have your best interview outfit cleaned and pressed several days beforehand. Additionally, have clear directions to the office. Any confusion finding the building can cause unnecessary stress, and at worst can make you late to the interview.

You Can Succeed in a High-Pressure Interview

Do not let the pressure of the interview dissuade you. You can land the job by cultivating the right attitude and making all practical preparations beforehand. Understand that simply by having an interview, you are already being seriously considered for the position. Let them know you are the right fit for the job. By properly preparing for the interview, you’ll be ready to impress the hiring manager and land the position.

About the Author: Johnny Mills is a contributing writer and hiring manager at a major corporation. Johnny provides advice to internal employees before they interview with other managers for high-pressure interviews. Whether they wish to pursue masters in human resource management careers or technical fields, Johnny has become an expert at providing interview advice.


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