Ask any athlete how they prepare for a game, and they’ll tell you they talk to themselves – a lot. The pep talk is as much a part of an athlete’s warm-up as stretching.
And what helps in a competition for gold, can work equally well in competition for full-time employment, a contract opportunity or temporary work.
Staffing solutions experts at The Bagg Group know this for a fact. We have been coaching candidates on how to interview well with the best companies in the GTA for decades.
Here are two winning tips for helping you put together a pep talk to give your best performance, whether on a ski hill, a skating rink, or in an interview.
Think about what you can control: At the Vancouver Olympics, athletes talked to themselves about succeeding at elements they could control, not what they couldn’t.
Jennifer Heil, who won a silver medal in freestyle skiing in Vancouver, told reporters that she prepares by telling herself that she is “going for it” and that she will have a “fun” and “exciting” run.
And she said, she visualizes being flexible enough to deal with any unexpected event.
She gives herself a pep talk about what she can accomplish on the way to the finish line. But she says, in sports, it’s impossible to know the outcome ahead of time. So she doesn’t think about it.
“I’m doing everything I can,” she told reporters before the Olympic Games. “And at the end of the da,y I’ll know I’ve done my best effort. I don’t think I can ask more of myself than that.”
Likewise prior to an interview, visualize yourself speaking positively about your prior work experience and your skills. Tell yourself that you will enjoy the interview and talking, with confidence and knowledge, about issues of interest to the interviewer.
And like Heil, before your performance starts, remind yourself that you are going to give this your best effort, and that is all that you need to do.
If you focus on things you can’t control — such as other competitors or the interviewer’s personal likes and dislikes — you will be increasing your panic and anxiety, not decreasing it.
Turn negatives into positives: For athletes, training is often a physically painful experience. In a Canadian Curling Association blog, Gidon Gabbay writes that athletes know they can’t always eliminate the negative thoughts, so instead they turn these into positive affirmations.
For example, he writes, athletes don’t tell themselves, “This hurts too much, I want to lie down and die.” Instead they say, “This feeling is connected with doing my absolute best.”
As a job candidate, you may have to do a test, an assignment, or a series of interviews that are truly migraine-inducing. Take your cue from the curlers, and psych yourself up by telling yourself this challenge is a new experience that is letting you stretch and strengthen some skills.
Remember, what you say to an interviewer is important. But so is what you say to yourself.