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Get Psyched for Success!
by Craig Harrison
Published in the January 19, 2003
edition of
The California Job Journal

Coaches psyche up their teams before a big game.

Army bands traditionally played march music to incite their troops before battle.

Pilots use an extensive pre-flight checklist to prepare for each flight.

What do you do before your big job interview?


How are you preparing and motivating yourself?

How are you fortifying yourself for success?

Since interviewing is all about confidence, you should build yours before your interview begins. Whether you psyche yourself up, cool yourself down or otherwise optimize yourself think peak performance before you walk into your next interview.

PSYCH UP: The Pep Talk

Why not give yourself a pep talk to remind yourself how talented, experienced and ready you are for your next job?

Psychologists have long known the importance of self-talk in motivating star athletes, actors and musicians to excel. Why not apply these same techniques that high performers use to your own activities?

Whether you are in need of a psych up, a cool down or a rev-up before your interview, you can use this pep talk approach to better handle your job interview. Here are some tips for doing so.

Just Say "Now!"

Before your next interview, give yourself a pep talk to remind yourself of all you have to offer. Look into the mirror, praise yourself for past successes and buoy yourself with confidence for having reached this point in the interview process. Remind yourself how lucky they will be to get a talent such as yourself. After all, there is nobody else quite like you: your blend of experience, skill, personality and background. You know you can do it. Tell yourself! Then it's easier to tell others.

COOL DOWN: Just Say Um.

If you are the type of person who gets too excited before an interview, try this approach to stay calm and focused. Find a quiet place, free of clutter and distractions. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe in deeply through your nose as if you are smelling a rose. Now exhale slowly through your pursed lips as if blowing out a candle. Try to focus just on your breathing. If thoughts enter your mind, recognize them and then let them go, re-focusing on your breathing pattern.

A meditative state can help you clear your mind of noise and distractions. By lowering your heart rate through deep breathing, you can quell any nervousness that might normally arise before a stressful event such as a job interview. Just as great athletes adopt tunnel vision to see only their goals prior to a big game, so too can you concentrate on the task at hand: acing your interview!

By sitting quietly for ten minutes before your next interview, you can become more single-minded as you approach your interview. Once you've slowed your breathing down, mentally let go of the various nagging matters that clutter the mind and bring us all down. You are on the precipice of a new job. Your whole life can benefit from successfully handling this interview. Build your confidence from within. Know in your heart that you are ready, willing and able to accept this next challenge. Now seize the moment!

RALLY TIME: Start Me Up!

Some people's pep talk more resembles a spirit rally. Yours can too. You may wish to "rev your engines" to prepare for your interview. In that case, pump yourself up like a prizefighter before the next bout. Play some inspirational music to pump up your heartbeat. Anthems abound. Pick yours: For a first interview: "Start Me Up" by the Rolling Stones gets some candidates in gear. For a second interview, McFadden and Whitehead's "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" is a winner. Others prefer Queen's "We are the Champions." And for that final interview and its salary negotiations, it's time for Aretha Franklin's "RESPECT!" Create the soundtrack for your Oscar worthy performance.

RALLY TIME: Start Me Up!

One of the keys to success in the workplace is engendering trust from your co-workers. If you are gossiping or betraying confidences you destroy your own credibility — as an honorable co-worker, a safe confidante, and am ally.

WARM ME UP: Let's Get Physical

Don't presume the interview preparation is primarily a cerebral exercise. There's a physical aspect to successful interviewing too. Schedule some physical activity the day of your interview to stimulate your mind, ameliorate pent up nervousness, and speed up your metabolism. You actually sharpen your mind through physical activity. The exertion will help your brain fire in more creative ways once you've exercised. Don't forget to hydrate before and after exercising. Water, the forgotten nutrient, is an important component in your success program.

Visualizing Success

Whether you psych up through music, jogging, power lifting or use meditation to prepare for your interview, visualize success. What does it look like? What does it feel like? See yourself answering questions confidently, showcasing your skill set and experience, and exuding a confident demeanor. And project a clear focus. "If you don't know what you have going for yourself, don't expect your prospective employer to figure it out. Do your homework first. Know what you are bringing to the table before you expect something in return." So says Dr. Alan Zimmerman of Prior Lake, MN. Dr. Zimmerman works with a variety of clients on performance improvement and positive work relationships. (1-800-621-7881.)

Get into the Success Zone

"The zone is that state of mind that puts us into performance mode where everything flows effortlessly, we have laser focus, we are relaxed, confident and our performance seems to just happen, with no thinking or direction on our part. Anything you can do to help you shift focus into the zone should be part of your psych-up rituals." These words of wisdom come from Bill Cole, MS, MA, founder and CEO of ProCoach Systems, a Silicon Valley firm dedicated to helping organizations reach peak performance solutions through their people.

Cole recommends the creation of a routine for optimal success: "Psyching up is all about having a ritual or routine. It's about making the transition from normal focus to laser focus for your performance during the interview." Cole feels the ritual serves as a funnel to get you into the zone: "Your ritual is really a series of tasks you complete in a short time frame that helps you relax, tune-out unwanted thoughts, feelings and images and instead replaces them with the internal mental climate that is most conducive to a great performance." Thus the ritual is a precursor to success.

Fly Right

You know best what you need before an interview. Whether your charge is to get fired up, chill out, or otherwise focus your energy, create a pre-interview program to position you for success. Just as pilots have a pre-flight routine so too should you strive for a consistent preparation before your next big interview. Not only will you be cleared for takeoff, you'll soar to new heights. Up, Up and Away!

© Copyright 2002 Craig Harrison. All Rights Reserved.

Speaker, trainer and frequent flier Craig Harrison's routine includes receiving a pep talk from his number one fan, his Mom, before each big engagement. Craig can be reached through www.ExpressionsofExcellence.com or at (510) 547-0664

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