Mental skills preparation

To be successful at interview requires mental skills preparation in addition to the CV or application form. 

There’s a great deal you can do to mentally prepare, but adequately preparing certain other details will do much to enhance your mental state.


Focus your mind on your skills or experience that matches the employer’s needs.  The rule is to match, match, and match what you possess with what the employer wants. Omit all reference to other unrelated skills and experiences.

Be proud of- and value- your skills and abilities

Stop thinking  “I’m only a ….”   Or “I just do … “.  Would you pick a washing powder labelled “This one isn’t much good”? Of course not, so stop selling yourself short in your own head.  Replace negative self talk with positive statements about your capabilities.

Practise the High Performance State.

Here’s how:

– Remember a few of your successes and proudest moments in your career.

– Take them one at a time, and use your senses to fully relive the memory by seeing the event in your mind’s eye, hearing in your head and feeling in your body what you would have experienced at the time.

Imagine you have a TV remote control and use it to enhance the senses. 

Turn up the colour and brightness of images you see in your mind’s eye. Make the volume and tone of internal self talk and recall sounds as stimulating to you as possible. Ramp up the physical feelings you associate with those proud moments in your history. Your mind can’t distinguish between how it really was and how you would like the memory to be recalled. You are the Director of the theatre performance in your mind.

– When you can experience the memory at maximum intensity, squeeze your thumb and middle finger of one hand and hold for a few seconds. Let go, take a deep breath and stretch. (This is called anchoring).

– Repeat about five times. Now relax, stretch and take a few deep breaths. Now squeeze your thumb and finger again and notice that you can quickly re-experience the sensations of that memory.  Repeat a few more times if you need to rack the effect up a few notches. Follow the same method for each of your selected memories.


Several times a day, for a few days, squeeze your thumb and middle finger to bring back the sensations of success (this is known as firing the anchor).  Now you know that you still have the resources to be successful in your next position.

This is powerful mental preparation and a great confidence booster.  You can quickly re-create your high performance state as you enter the interview room.

How to Mentally Prepare for Interviews_2Other mental preparations for an interview

Get ahead of many unprepared candidates.

Anticipate and prepare for questions. You must confidently be able to give a good account of yourself.  Leave nothing to chance.

Here are a few pointers:

1) Tell me about yourself.

Rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again a 60 second “commercial.”  Get really comfortable and have confidence in talking about your background, skills and experiences that are relevant to the position you are applying for.

Practise on friends, it doesn’t really matter if they don’t understand your line of work; you just need to feel confident about describing yourself.  If you haven’t got any friends, talk to the cat. Even a goldfish will do in an emergency!

2) What do you know about our company?

Too many applicants don’t. If you really can’t find information on the internet or business Facebook, call the company, mention your interview and ask them to send you any literature…  This is a great way to be remembered and that’s good for your self confidence when you arrive for interview.

3) Feel powerful in your interview clothes.

Choose them carefully. They must be appropriate and you must feel good in them.  The right clothes can really enhance your self esteem. Put them on before interview day and mentally take yourself into the interview room.  Sit down and imagine yourself confidently speaking.

4) On the big day – Relax.

Take a few deep breaths any time you feel nervous. Squeeze your thumb and middle finger to re-enter the high performance state you’ve practised. Remind yourself that you have skills and experience the same as or similar to those called for by the employer. Be aware that if the interviewer doesn’t interview very often, they might feel more nervous than you.

Because you’ve mentally prepared yourself for interview, you’ll have a great advantage over some other candidates. You’ll be ready to show the interviewers that you’re their best choice.

One last point to share with you: if you aren’t selected don’t get too disappointed – take heart because by the law of averages, you’ll have moved one interview closer to success. Good luck!

Connect with Expert Robin How

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