We are all walking around with primitive brains more suited for surviving in caves than managing the demands of the 21st century (including interviews).
One of the things our primitive brain does is that when we get stressed it narrows our thinking. When extremely stressed we can only think of one of two things-fight or flight. However, even under lower levels of stress we lose full access to our creativity, memory, problem-solving skills, humor, and interpersonal skills. Here is some proof-have you ever been in a situation where you were in a heated or stressful discussion and the moment you leave the room you bang yourself on the forehead and say to yourself “I should have said…” The moment you left the room you calmed down a bit, your thinking expanded, and you remembered what you could have said. I just spoke with a client that when driving home remembered a lot of things he wished he had said in his interview.
Interviews are stressful situations. Even if you do a great job of preparation, you will be nervous and your thinking will be diminished; know it plan for it. Here are a some suggestions for overcoming your primitive brain:
Prepare a list of reminders:
On a pad of paper write down the things you want to remember in the interview. Include things like smile, good eye contact, no ums, take a deep breath, and don’t fidget. Also include a list of questions to ask, a list of accomplishments, a reminder to ask for a business card, and the interviewer’s name(s). As you take notes on the pad you will see your reminders and remember to follow them.
Take a deep breath
Swami’s have know for centuries that good breath control leads to calm. During your interview, about every 5 minutes, take a good deep diaphragmatic breath. This will calm you down and improve your thinking. Put this on your pad as one of the things to remember.
Slow down your answers
An interview is not a timed test. You do not have to have immediate answers for every question. Slow down and take some time to formulate your answers. By slowing down you will be less stressed and will think more clearly.
Shift your position
When under stress many people tend to tense their muscles which raises their heart beat. By shifting your position you will relax your muscles and you will calm down.
When your facial muscles are smiling it causes a calming effect. So smile in your interview. This will also invite the interviewer to smile and help relax her.
Prepare an interview presentation
The best way to support your primitive brain is to have a written presentation to use during your interview. An interview presentation will insure you communicate all the information the interviewer needs to know about you to make a well informed hiring decision. Because all the information is written, none of it will be forgotten and you will be more confidant and relaxed.
You primitive brain does a couple of other unhelpful things including focusing on the negative and assuming the worst in the face of uncertainty. So you probably did better in your interview than you think and just because you haven’t heard yet it does not mean you did not get the job.