It may not initially seem like fun to do mental practice for job interviews, even if you know that mental rehearsal can dramatically improve your performance, as it does for famous musicians and athletes.
You may be surprised to discover how enjoyable and empowering it is.
In my previous post, I explained how mental practice, mental rehearsal, imagery or visualization (I’ll use these terms interchangeably) can help you do a winning job interview, and I laid out steps to follow.
The idea is to experience, in your imagination, the way you want to feel, think, talk and act during your next interview.
On some level, your mind stores this imagery/visualization as learning – as if you had physically practiced going through the whole interview. Naturally, that practice sets you up for successful performance in the real world. This isn’t necessarily a mystical or new-age thing; it’s supported by scientific research.
In this post I’ll address some difficulties many people experience in trying to use mental practice, and how to overcome them.
Let go of distractions.
Even if we’ve found a quiet place, turned off the cell phone and hung a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, we may have distracting thoughts. “What did my boss mean by that comment yesterday . . . I need to go to the grocery store . . . I wish it was the weekend already . . .”
When distracting thoughts arise, just smile and let go of them, returning your focus to what you see, hear and feel in the successful interview you were imagining.
The more you can be kind to yourself about these distracting thoughts, the more energy you will have for deepening your focus on the visualization.
A recording to keep you on track can be extremely helpful. I’ll say more about that below.
Let go of imagining failure.
For many of us, a desire to always be “realistic” (or just to avoid disappointment!) leads to the bad habit of repeatedly, reflexively imagining negative outcomes.
If you find yourself doing this during your imagery session, let go of it. Nobody is asking you to guarantee you’ll do a great interview, just to imagine it for a moment. Experiment with imagining success.
You may find yourself reluctant to try using this technique. Maybe you’re skeptical whether it will work. Try thinking of it as an experiment, just for the heck of it.
Or maybe you just don’t like to think about interviews! That’s understandable. Realize that you are free to imagine an interview so pleasant and successful that it will actually be fun.
In other words, talk yourself out of your reluctance and give it a shot. Why not?
Don’t get hung up on details.
How long should your mental rehearsal be? How should you start? The great thing is, these details aren’t so important.
You can spend 10 seconds, 10 minutes or a half hour if it works for you. You can start anywhere – visualize the whole day of the interview, or leap straight into hearing a job offer at the end! Just do it.
You don’t have to see clear inner pictures.
Not everyone can see images clearly inside their mind. Some people are more inclined to imagine via words, sounds and/or feelings. If your “visualization” focuses on hearing the sound of the conversation and cultivating feelings of confidence and connection, that’s great!
Can’t relax and close your eyes without falling asleep? Try sitting very upright in a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on a cushion. If necessary, keep your eyes open, gazing toward the floor or another blank surface while you turn your attention to your inner experience: arriving at the interview site, feeling the perfect blend of calm and excitement as you take a moment to breathe deeply, knowing it’s going to be a great interview…
Enlist assistance with interview coaching and/or a customized guided imagery recording.
If you have questions as you experiment with imagery, you can contact me for a quick word of advice or a guided imagery session.
Guided imagery recordings can be very helpful in keeping you focused and deepening the experience – especially one that’s custom-made for you. I offer customized “Relax and Psych Up” recordings recorded during a coaching session with you.
We can get together in person or via phone or Skype. I’ll learn about your goals, strengths and challenges, and record a process you can listen to as often as you like. Listen on your cell phone or other portable device at home, on your lunch break or in your parked car at the interview site.
Practice makes perfect! Have fun training yourself to do great job interviews through mental practice and guided imagery.
In the Part 3 of this series I’ll describe several advanced techniques to make your guided imagery more powerful and enjoyable.