4 Ways to Win Your Interview

interview prep

Even after years of preparation, athletes can choke during a big game.

Compared to skating into a rink to compete for an Olympic medal or kicking off the Super Bowl, a job interview seems pretty easy. But even after thoroughly preparing for an interview, once you’re sitting across the desk from your potential boss, it’s easy to let your nerves sabotage your performance.

Athletes have to learn to handle the pressure. “They are always concerned with how they can be better and know there is always room for improvement,” says Renita Kalhorn, a peak performance and executive coach. Much of interview process is in your head, says Kalhorn, and you need to train your mind just as you might train your muscles.

Because even the best athletes can get tripped up by their mindset, many develop routines that help them on game day. Try them before your next big interview.

4 Ways to Win Your Interview

Eat and sleep. It should be obvious, but many job seekers spend the night before an interview slamming down junk food while cramming for their interview. But your research should be finished by now, and even if it isn’t, getting a good night’s sleep is essential to peak performance.

Wake up and sing.  Don’t wait until you’re walking into your interview to pump yourself up. Mental prep should start first thing in the morning. If there’s a song that never fails to put you in a good mood, Kalhorn suggests you start singing. Or recite a phase or mantra that has the same impact. “It doesn’t have to be deep or fancy,” says Kalhorn. Bring it on or I’m the Man work just fine.

Clear your mind. Your thoughts seem very real, but remember they are temporary–and easily replaced. Find a way to release the ones that might harm your performance. Spend some time meditating or write in a journal before your interview–a stream of consciousness flow is all you need. Letting go of whatever is on you mind frees up your “mental horsepower,” says Kalhorn. “It takes energy to have negative thoughts.”

Give thanks.  You know you have to focus to perform well. But people don’t always focus on the right thing. If you’re telling yourself not to talk about a problem you had with a previous boss, for example, you are actually focusing on it–and may well wind up blurting out exactly what you didn’t want to say. A great technique is to use gratitude. Thinking about what you appreciate–whether it is your breakfast, your apartment, your health, your spouse or a sunny day–before an interview will calm you. “You can’t feel nervous and appreciation at the same time,” says Kalhorn. Try appreciating the design of the building, the friendliness of the person who greets you–and your interviewer. You may soon find yourself appreciating your new job.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and, among others.