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Dana WilsonWhether during good or bad economies, interview stress is a given in the job-hunting process.

Job candidates experience stress prior to the interview and during the interview. During both occasions, the stress can be equally intense.

Don’t be passive and hope the interview will run smoothly. That’s being unrealistic. The worst thing you can do is make assumptions about outcomes. Expect some stress, minimal at best, and find ways to deal with it.

Here is our list of suggestions for managing stress:

1) View the interview as a mutual exploration. The employer is learning about you, but conversely, you are also learning about him. Fear is triggered if you view the employer as controlling the interview. Without being aware of it, your defences are down.

2) Learn about the company’s strengths and weaknesses. What concerns you the most?

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3) Think of the interview as a conversation with another human being. The interviewer does not hold your career in his hands. Often, decisions are made after two or three interviews. If you make a good impression, you are passed on to the next manager in the corporate hierarchy.

And here are our before-interview tips:

1) Use the process of visualization. Visualization involves imagining what it would be like working for the company. This is possible if you invest time in researching the company. Thanks to the Internet, all it takes is a few hours to get an accurate picture of what the company is all about.

2) List several reasons why you should get the job. This is a standard question that’s likely to be asked.

3) Think carefully about the clothes your wear. It ought to meet the company’s standard and fit the corporate culture. Conservative attire is always the best bet.

4) Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate). It exacerbates tension and stress.

During the interview:

1) Ask a lot of questions. It helps manage anxiety and focus on the mission at hand, which is impressing the interviewer with your knowledge.

2) Maintain eye contact. It focuses attention on the interviewer rather than yourself. It gives you a certain amount of control over the interview because your attention is riveted on the interviewer. You are also displaying confidence, which is impressive.

It’s been said before, but the importance of making a strong first impression can’t be stressed enough. A poor first impression can ruin your chances of being considered. Even though it’s an irrational response, the interviewer is not likely to change his opinion.

And remember, the interview begins the moment you arrive. Everyone you meet, from the receptionist to the hiring manager, will form an impression of you. To make sure the impression is positive, remember that your words and mannerism affects the image you project.

Finally, don’t walk into an interview thinking your career hinges upon the outcome because, no matter how tough the job market, you must constantly remind yourself that there are many other jobs in the wings. Believing that helps reduce stress so you can turn in a great performance even if you are turned down.

Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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