Hello midwives in the making, this is the second Midwife Diaries' Interview School post! Interview school is designed to help you become an exceptional candidate when applying to become a student midwife.
Strong candidates that would make excellent midwives and can walk the walk can't necessarily talk the talk. Midwife Diaries’ Interview School can help – and it’s free!
Today I want teach you about coping with nervousness in your midwifery interview. 'How can I cope with interview nerves?' is one of the most frequent questions I get asked.
Everyone at some point their life will be derailed by nervousness or fear in a social situation! It's just part of being human.
But it is crucial to get a handle on your nerves. If you're so nervous you can't think straight, there's no way you'll be able to show yourself at your best at your interview.
This post aims to give you the tools to handle your nervousness without appearing contrived or coached. These techniques will also come in handy when you are a student midwife interacting with difficult situations and qualified staff.
1. Don't fight with your emotions
First you need to know: if an interview is important to you, you will almost always get nervous. This is completely normal.
However, if you go into your interview and feel yourself getting scared or nervous, don't fight it - let yourself feel exactly what's going on. Is it a feeling in your chest? Does your whole body feel buzzy? Feel the emotion as opposed to suppressing it.
The real secret that comes from treating your nervousness like this is: if you accept and feel what's going on, it usually recedes or turns into another easier emotion in less than a minute.
If people control their nervousness in this way they have acknowledged what they're experiencing instead of trying to cover it up. They often come across as speaking from the heart, being balanced and sincere, all excellent attributes to get across in your interview!
Once you have used this technique, you can start to implement the other steps to give you a really good chance of a confident interview, even if you start off nervous.
I've had two terrible interviews in my time when I went to pieces, I shook and stuttered. But I had much more confidence than I was able to show - I just had to work out how to present my capabilities to the interviewers. There was something missing.
Using these techniques I got excellent at midwifery interviews and now really enjoy all sorts of midwifery interviews - even though my first gut reaction to them hasn't changed.
2. Know that the really scary thing would be not applying and interviewing to become a midwife at all
Being too scared to even try is a much more painful place to be than trying and failing. By interviewing and pushing out of your comfort zone you are increasing your ability to deal with fear and nervousness in terms of the rest of your life as well. And if you happen to fail one interview you will have gained so much experience you can use at others.
Do you ever feel like being nervous means you won't make a good midwife? I know lots of people who have described feeling this way - but the truth is if you get nervous in an interview situation, you will often be an introverted, empathetic person who will have a lot to offer as a midwife.
Please don't give up before you've learned how to get good at interviews!
3. Don't be apprehensive of or idolise your interviewers
A lot of prospective student midwives feel intimidated as interviewers tend to be University lecturers with lots of midwifery experience.
But whatever your age and background, there's every chance one day you could be an equally good or even better midwife than your interviewer. It's also good to remember if your interviewer is a good midwife, she or he will be able to empathise with you during your interview. Speak to your interviewers as if you are equal to them - because you are!
4. Use the power of comparison
This technique helps me alot because I like to laugh; it helps me find the humour in being nervous.
There are many scarier situations out there than being interviewed for a place on a midwifery course. For instance, being in shark infested water would make me more nervous. Being in a car crash would make me nervous. Being stuck on a skilift over a ravine would make me very nervous.
Talking to some nice ladies about how much I'd love to be training as a midwife? Not so much. You're not in any physical danger, and the worst thing that's going to happen is having a bruised ego.
Once you accept the worst that can happen, it is much easier to do a good job at your interview.
5. Use power posing
I'm really excited to have found this technique this year. It really works.
When I first heard the phrase 'power posing' it made me cringe. It sounds like a technique from bad life coaching - but actually it's a steadfast research based approach to coping with nervousness from Harvard Business School.
Researcher Amy Cuddy has found adopting different poses can have a profound effect on your hormones and physiology, briefly programming you to appear confident and in control.
Space-occupying, dominant poses like those in the picture here of Amy Cuddy imitating wonder woman, even if done for as little as 2 minutes, can have a positive impact on how you interview. Power posing has been shown to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) and increase testosterone (a dominance hormone).
This will not make you appear arrogant - in the research the interviewers could not identify the candidates who had participated in power posing - but they do rate candidates who have practised power posing as higher performing. Not only that, it affects the way you feel to some extent, which will have a big impact on your ability to answer questions and think clearly.
In Amy Cuddy's words, power posing is the ultimate 'fake it until you make it' strategy - and it's well worth trying on your interview day. Why not pop to the toilet or somewhere else quiet and do some power posing before you interview.
All of these techniques are helpful, but I hope you manage to apply the 'Don't Fight With Your Emotions' point most of all, as it's the queen of all tips to get your nervousness under control. After that you can bolster your confidence with the other techniques.
I really hope you found this post helpful. Part 3 of Interview School can be found here.
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