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by Mariana Ashley | July 24, 2012


OK, so you wrote a brilliant cover letter, remembered to attach your equally sterling resume (yes, I’ve screwed this part up), and had your suit/dress/pantsuit dry-cleaned by the best in the business. You’re an excellent worker, an attractive hire, and perfectly suited for the position you’ve applied for.

There’s just one problem: interviews turn you into a stuttering puddle of sweat.

Fear not. I used to be just like you. It comes down to performance anxiety, and the adrenaline that hits when you know you’re on the spot. You can either let it turn you into a terrified mess or channel all that energy for good--into the kind of buzzer-beating performance you didn’t even know you were capable of.

Here’s how:

1. Arrive super early.

As in, much, much earlier than you thought you had to. Something will go wrong anyway: you won’t know where to park, or you’ll end up on the wrong floor, or you’ll have to use the bathroom, or you’ll start freaking out about your hair. So show up way ahead of time. Might it just give you more time to worry? Sure, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

2. Breathe.

This is why you’re early: so you have time to get nervous, and then time to get over it. If possible, find a bathroom in the office building, or at a nearby cafe or some such place. Make sure you still look great. Pep talk yourself a little in the mirror. Then sit down somewhere and collect yourself.

Maybe you’ve done some kind of meditation or yoga before, or done athletic competitions, or done biofeedback of some kind. That experience will help. You can train yourself to control both your physiology and your state of mind, lowering your blood pressure, taking in more oxygen, and reaching that state of relaxed alertness you need. Now you're ready.

3. Bring a notebook.

This will help you in a few ways. First, it’s a bit of a cheat sheet where you can gather your pre-interview thoughts. That way, you can make sure remember any questions you'll otherwise immediately forget the moment someone asks, “Do you have any questions?.

Second, it makes you look prepared, which can’t hurt.

Third, it will help with your interview anxiety, for the same reason that people smoke cigarettes: you have to have something to do with your hands, a bit of what actors call “business.” It may not be as comforting as a toddler’s security blanket, but it looks a lot more professional.

Mariana Ashley writes about educational issues for She can be reached by email at


Filed Under: Networking

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