Wednesday 28 August 2019

Confidence tips for interviews

At some point in our lives, we all must face the 'dreaded' interview. Interviews can often be a stressful experience because so much rests on the outcome.

When we take the plunge and decide to make a change in our career, we may already be feeling vulnerable. It might be that we didn’t get along with our colleagues in our previous job, we weren’t earning enough money, or we weren’t achieving our goals. Whatever the reason, many of these contributing factors can weaken our confidence and negatively impact on our mental wellbeing. So, before we even begin to apply for our dream job, we may have low self-esteem and be feeling like we’re on the back foot.

To move forwards with confidence, it’s important to start feeling more positive about ourselves and have belief in our capabilities. Remember, the employer has already seen your CV or application form and clearly thinks that you could be suitably qualified for the job. You need to be able to build a rapport with the interviewer and prove that you not only have the right skills, but your personality suits the company.

Recognise your achievements and skills

It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting yourself down or tricking yourself into believing that you aren’t good enough, so it’s important to dispel any negative thoughts and start thinking positively about yourself.

Make a list of all your qualities and skills and recognise how much you have already achieved. If you struggle with this, ask a friend to help you. Sometimes when your confidence is low, you need a helping hand to spot the positives about yourself. Within no time, you’ll start to appreciate all the positives and spend less time putting yourself down.

Practice relaxation techniques

When you’re nervous or anxious, your body may react negatively and you may feel out of breath, shaky or over-emotional. By practising simple breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques, you can help yourself return to a state of calm before the interview. Taking slow, deep breaths and emptying your mind can help you think more clearly.

Visualise positive outcomes

Visualisation techniques can be extremely powerful in stressful situations and can help overcome fears. Imagine yourself in the interview and how you would like to be perceived. Do you look confident? Do you speak confidently? Do you give a confident handshake? Body language is a huge giveaway for any interviewer so the more you picture yourself acting confidently, the more likely you will feel confident.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare!

There is nothing worse than turning up to an interview unprepared. Employers want to know that prospective employees are willing to go the extra mile. Research the company thoroughly and find out what you can about your interviewer/s and what they do for the company as this can help you build a rapport with them. Re-visit the job specification and your CV and make sure you highlight any occasions in a previous role where you have demonstrated the required skills and qualities.

Practise confident body language

In our day-to-day lives it’s easy to forget how we appear to others from our body language. Observe how you act when you’re speaking with present colleagues, family or friends and make adjustments accordingly.

  • Make eye contact
  • Don’t slump and keep an upright yet relaxed posture
  • Unfold your arms and use open hand gestures when speaking (but don’t overdo it)
  • Smile
  • Mirror positive body language of whoever you’re speaking to
  • Don’t fidget

More useful interview tips are available on the graduate career website Prospects.

If you feel you may benefit from working with a coaching professional who can assist you with any confidence issues and support you as you work towards your goals, visit our coaching page.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Ways to cope with returning to work

There are many reasons why we might have a significant amount of time off from work. Whether It’s maternity/paternity leave, illness or unemployment, the mere thought of returning to work can be quite unnerving.

There will probably be countless negative thoughts running around in your head. Will I remember how to do my job? Will my boss be angry with me? Will my colleagues treat me differently? How will I manage to get up on time every morning?

Forward planning

Returning to work doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, it can also be an exciting time. A bit of forward planning can help to avoid niggling worries and ease anxiety.

Before you return to work, ease yourself into your new routine by getting up at the required time and going to bed earlier so that your body starts to adjust to any new sleep patterns.

Do a practice run for a usual working day, from getting up in the morning and taking the kids to school (if necessary) to taking the commute to work. By doing a practice run, you can plan your time accordingly and minimise stressful situations.

Prepare meals and do household chores at the weekend (or on the days you’re not at work) so that you have less to worry about once you get home.

Catch up before you start

To lighten the load, it’s a good idea to spend a day at work before your start date to discuss your role and responsibilities. If someone has covered for you during your absence, they could run through both old and new procedures to refresh your memory and introduce you to any new systems. This could also be the perfect opportunity to catch up with work colleagues before you dive straight into work mode. Perhaps you could spend some time reading through emails and organising your workload. By easing yourself in gradually, you’ll hopefully find returning to work a little less intimidating and you might even start looking forward to it.

Stay healthy

Returning to work after a long break can be extremely tiring when you’re out of the swing of things. By eating a healthy diet and enjoying some exercise, you’ll not only find you have more energy and feel physically fitter, your mental wellbeing will benefit too.

Take a lunch break

When we’re snowed under with work and find ourselves constantly playing catch up, it’s tempting to work through our lunch breaks to get ahead. Although this might work as a quick fix, in the long run it can do more harm than good. It’s so important to take time out to clear our minds and escape from physical, emotional and mental stress. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes, try to get outside in the fresh air, eat your lunch away from your desk and replenish your water bottle.

Switch off

So many of us continue to think about work once we’re home, whether that’s discussing the day with our partner, reading emails or chewing over what we need to do the next day. Even though it can be difficult to switch off, we should try to avoid negative conversations, turn off the media and do something that relaxes our mind and body. You might want to put your favourite music on and cook up something special in the kitchen, take an evening walk or watch a film.

The website A Return To Work features a number of case studies about returning to work, which lets you read about real life situations.