Managing That First Impression at Interview

You have to manage that first impression

When you arrive in the interview room, it is only natural that you want to make a good first impression. The impression we make is determined by our non-verbal communication – what is usually referred to as our ‘body language’. Our bodies are constantly giving off signals – they continually communicate what we are feeling and thinking inside – that is why it is called ‘body language’. That first impression takes but a moment – it is both a conscious and sub-conscious process in the mind of the interviewer, and within a few seconds they have an initial impression of you.

Your non-verbal communication is something that interviewers pay close attention to. From the very first moment that they see you, they notice how you are dressed, the expression your face, whether you are smiling or frowning, your handshake, and the way you hold your body. These all contribute to that first impression. So you have to manage that first impression. But how?

There are a few exercises that will help you make a stronger, more positive impact in that first impression. The first of them is something you do before the interview and involves deliberately changing your body posture to control the levels of two hormone. You want to increase your testosterone level and decrease your cortisol level – cortisol is the stress hormone. Power-posing is how you do this, and by power-posing for just two minutes before an interview (or any other evaluative event such as speaking in public), your performance will be significantly better.

Dr Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist in Harvard Business School, gave a TED Talk on how to do this – watch her most interesting talk here, or go to: https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.

The second exercise involves taking control of your breathing. When we feel stressed – and being interviewed is a stressful situation – our breathing tends to be shallow and higher in the chest. By breathing deeply so that our diaphragm pushes our stomach out, we relax our body (again bringing the cortisol level down). But breathing deeply has another positive effect – it bring energy into our body, an energy that can be used to show enthusiasm and interest in the job and organisation you are being interviewed for. This extra energy in your body deepens your ‘aura’ and projects confidence and poise.

To achieve the correct breathing, get balanced with your feet firmly on the floor (whether you are standing or sitting). Breathe in deeply through your nose all the way down to your stomach, and hold the breath for a couple of seconds. Then exhale the breath out through your mouth more slowly – the ideal ratio of out-breath to in-breath is 2:1. Do this for five minutes in the waiting room and you will feel calmer, more relaxed and more energetic – ready to perform better at the interview.

The two exercises above will help you appear more confident, poised and relaxed when you sit in that interview chair. More importantly, inside you will “feel” confident, poised and relaxed.

To round things off, pay attention to your handshake as this too gives off a sub-conscious signal. A wet, limp, cold handshake portrays fear and a lack of confidence, and produces an “ugh” feeling in its victim! On the other hand (no pun intended!), a firm, strong handshake portrays confidence and self-belief, and is a pleasant experience for the recipient, especially when it is accompanied by a smile. But firm and strong doesn’t equate to hurting – so get the balance right. Practice your handshake with a few friends or family members, and smile as you do it. Get their feedback and adjust your handshake as suggested.

When you are in the interview, sit upright but relaxed in the seat with your lower back touching the back of the chair, and your feet firmly on the floor. Take two deep breaths before speaking as this will bring back the effects of the earlier breathing. Now you are set for a good interview!

When you feel you don’t “fit” or something is not quite right about work

A lack of “fit” with your work causes stress and unhappiness

It is not at all uncommon for people to feel that there is something not quite right about their career or their job. Perhaps it is a feeling that their job is not a good ‘fit’ in some way, or that they have no idea where their career is going.

Sometimes this manifests itself in a lack of ‘passion’ for their job – they literally ‘drag their feet’ to work or dread Monday mornings. Nothing about their work excites them. They may feel envious of and amazed at friends who seem to love their job, and who talk quite passionately about it.

For others, their career is a series of mishaps, or it seems to them that they just didn’t have any luck with that job or that boss or that company. They are not promoted after five years or see others who started at the same time as them leap up the promotional ladder. They leave looking for a better job or better company to work for, but that one seems no better either.

They know something isn’t right but can’t really articulate it. Friends or their spouse notice that they are not happy with their work, but they too don’t know why.

These are all symptoms of a lack of ‘fit’ between a person and their career or job. Unfortunately many people in this situation will not think to go and talk with a career coach or career counsellor who can help them see what is happening and why. This lack of ‘fit’ is usually due to one or more of the following causes:

  1. Their career or job simply does not suit their personality. Psychometric inventories or personality assessments such as the MBTI (Myer Briggs Type Indicator) identify careers that people of a particular personality type find satisfaction in – they also identify those jobs that people with their personality type least enjoy. Regrettably many people did not have the benefit of structured career guidance in school or college and ended up in a career that is unsuitable to their personality.
  2. The second cause is similar and indeed associated with the first one, and that is a lack of synchronisation with their core interests – what they do in work does not overlap with the kind of things they are interested in. Again, a psychometric inventory such as the Strong Interests Inventory (SII) can quickly determine this.
  3. Everybody has a set of skills and some of these skills they are pretty good at, and others they really enjoy doing. When people list their skills, only some of those that they are good at will also be those they enjoy doing – these are a person’s strengths. When a person’s job involves using their strengths, they excel at their work and feel happy and content. Unfortunately people are frequently asked to do tasks that they are good at but just don’t enjoy doing. If they have to work at tasks they don’t enjoy too much, this creates stress and dissatisfaction at work.
  4. Values are what are important to people about various aspects of their life. Their work values drive their behaviours and motivate them – they determine what people focus on and spend their time on. Most of the time they are not aware of them, but then something happens and they immediately know that their values have been infringed and their boundaries violated. If people’s values are not being met in work, they feel that something is wrong and this nags at them over time. Sometimes they feel that the job or the work environment has changed, and they become dissatisfied and demotivated. Having a competent person elicit their work values clarifies the situation and provides direction for future action.

Excellent Apps to manage stress, anxiety and happiness

Everyone experiences stress to some level, especially in the workplace.

Sometimes stress is tolerable, sometimes it is intense, and sometimes it is downright debilitating.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the body can become adversely affected if stress symptoms are left unmanaged. These symptoms can affect one’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It can even lead to serious repercussions.

In the 21st century, we can combat stress the same way we approach other issues – with technology.

The are many apps that are designed specifically to help us manage stress. However, it is important to keep in mind that these apps should not take the place of medical advice. Their primary function is education. It is important to consult your healthcare professional before making any important decisions based on the information derived from these apps.


Pacifica — Available for iOS | Android — Free

This app is fairly low-maintenance and helps you address your stress at a gradual pace.

It is based on a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation/wellness techniques.

The app helps you track your daily activities in writing or via an audio recording. It then uses the information to help you understand which activities are causing you stress or anxiety.

Once you identify these sources, you can take action to break the cycle. It also allows you to set goals and emotional homework.


Happify — Available for iOS  — Free

This app uses positive-thinking activities to help you improve your mood.

Their scientifically-based philosophy is that everyone has a genetic set point for happiness — but we have the ability to offset it.

That essentially means that even though we might not realize it, we have a great deal of control over our happiness.

With that in mind, those who engage in actions that promote happiness and other positive emotional qualities will eventually develop those actions as habits, and ultimately become happier.


GPS for the Soul — Available for iOS  — Free

This app was created by emotional well-being advocates Arianna Huffington and Deepak Chopra.

The app is designed to help you manage your stress by connecting you with “guides.”

The guides are fairly simple actions such as looking at pictures of nature or engaging in breathing exercises, meditation or yoga. If you don’t want to use one of the prescribed guides, you can create your own by uploading photos or adding music or quotes.

Once you launch the guide, the app will use a breathing pacer to measure your breaths. There is also a feed that allows you to see your friends’ progress and what strategies are helping them.


Self-Help Anxiety Management (SAM) — Available for  iOS | Android — Free

The expert team that created this app consists of university psychologists, computer scientists and student users.

The app can help you figure out what the causes of your stress are and also suggests ways to combat them.

It provides a good amount of valuable external information ranging from anxiety to relaxation techniques. It also provides guidance on how to put the techniques to work.

You will be able to graph your anxiety so you can self-monitor your progress.


Acupressure: Heal Yourself — Available for iOS | Android — $1.99

This app helps you practice the ancient art of acupressure on yourself.

It helps you locate the proper pressure points to alleviate the pressure that is caused by stress. There are both physical and mental benefits to this practice.


Breathe to Relax — Available for iOS | Android — Free

This app is based on the proven fact that focusing on and controlling your breathing can help to calm you down, relax you, and reduce your stress.

It was originally developed for the purpose of helping soldiers and their families. However, the same techniques work for everyone.

It also provides excellent information about depression, anxiety and stress as well as other related topics.


Headspace — Available for iOS | Android — 10 free 10-minute sessions. Upgrade needed after that

This is one of the best available apps for guided meditation.

The sessions will teach you how to block out distractions and meditate effectively.

This app is especially helpful for beginners. The free version includes a starter course, and the subscriptions give you access to longer sessions and sessions for more specific purposes such as reducing stress.


Gratitude Journal — Available for iOS (Android alternative: Attitudes for Gratitude) — $1.99

Many studies have proven that keeping a gratitude journal results in higher alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy.

This app guides you through the journal-keeping process and prompts you to record the highlights of your day. You can even take pictures of objects for which you are grateful.


The Worry Box — Available for Android (iOS alternative is Worry Watch) — Free

This app provides you with a virtual “box” in which you can put all of your worries and stressors.

Then, you can think them through and learn how to manage them.

If the worry is not controllable, you can choose from a list of coping statements to help you look at it from a different angle.


If you are looking for a way to relieve some of your stress, then try out one of these apps to get you going in the right direction.

What’s worse, smoking or workplace stress?

Everyone knows that stress takes its toll on the human body, but new studies suggest that this negative effect may be much worse than originally anticipated.

Beyond being simply annoying and blood-pressure-increasing, stress has the potential to lead to life-threatening conditions if left unchecked for too long.

The effects of workplace stress have been shown recently to be just as bad as second-hand smoke.

That’s right, workplace stress affects you in the same way an annoying chain-smoking aunt living in the same apartment as you does.

A new study from the Harvard Business School and Stanford University compiled evidence from a massive resource of over 228 other independent studies.

The results show that high demand jobs increase the chance of an early death by 20%, and increased the chance of serious illness diagnoses by 35%. Even more worrisome is that high-stress jobs have a full 50% chance of making you fall into poor health in some manner or another. That´´s probably the worse thing you can do to yourself, stress out too much. It´s too unhealthy and that´s why death is a high risk for that, it sometimes it can´t be avoided.
That´s why the The Inheritance Experts will help you out if a you know a family member or friend that has recently passed. They are highly recommended and will help you with any disputes you may have.

Speaking on the findings, study co-author Joel Goh stated, “When you think about how much time individuals typically spend at work, it’s not that surprising.” Goh and others involved with the study voice their hopes that this study would lead to workplace reform aimed at boosting stress-reducing practices.

Speaking of which, here are five quick adjustments Goh felt would drastically improve workplace stress levels:


Stress Journals

Sometimes it becomes easy to lose track of just how much certain work tasks or environments are stressing you out on a day-to-day basis.

To help combat this frustration, keeping a work stress journal can help you determine what tasks at work, and which times of the week are filled with stress.

Once you have your problem areas pinpointed, it will become much easier to deal with them in a constructive and healthy manner.


Asking Tough Questions

Work situations do not have to be permanent.

To truly find more peace in your daily life, it can be useful to confront yourself about whether or not the stress you experience at the workplace is truly worth it.

If you find that the risks outweigh the rewards you receive from your job, it may be time to look for employment somewhere else.

While this step is easier said than done, the future of your mental and physical health is worth the potentially frustrating effort of relocation.


Being Prepared

Think through the worst case scenarios you may face and then set up game plans and alternate paths you can take during the work day.

Doing so will drastically reduce the stress of an uncertain workweek, and help you experience less stress during the worst case scenarios themselves.

However, never assume that a plan is one hundred percent full proof, as that may lead to more stress in the long run when a plan doesn’t work out as intended.


Staying in Touch with Reality

In their study, the Harvard Business School found the most common stress builder was the fear that an individual could lose their job.

Living with this can be difficult, so you should never allow yourself to become obsessed with (unrealistic) situations that may or may not arise in the workplace.

If you’re often thinking about getting fired, sit down and take a minute to think about how probable that really is.

16 ways to deal with stress

Dealing with stress in an effective and healthy manner is one of the primary keys to leading a comfortable work and personal life. You may have tried tasks such as exercising and deep breathing to help you deal with stress, but there are many other routes that you may not have considered. Here are 17 useful approaches to help you deal with stress:

  1. Pacing

When you’re stressed, getting up and moving about can help relieve tension and allow you to think in a more clear and thoughtful manner. Physical activities, in general, can often provide a useful outlet for relieving stress, but pacing is an approach you can use in nearly any environment.

  1. Cursing

While you should definitely consider leaving the office before letting out any expletives, getting a little loose with your language can let out pent up stress in a healthy, non-harmful way.

  1. Look at Some Fractals

Studies have shown that images containing fractals allow the brain to focus in a useful way that can allow the mind to calm down, ultimately relieving stress. Try locating a nice snowflake pattern or another fractal poster you can put up in your work or home space.

  1. Re-conceptualize Your Stress

Try to consider any benefits your stress may be providing you in your situation. If you can learn to work along with your stress you may find that it disappears all of a sudden.

  1. Eat Stress Relieving Foods

Eggs, dark chocolate and more have been found to have stress relieving properties. Keep some handy stress relief snacks around the office to make your workday more comfortable.

  1. Save the Venting For Later

Focusing on and ranting about the things that are stressing you out can be helpful for closure, but is counterproductive to curing that stress in the moment. Try and wait till later to vent about your stressful experiences.

  1. Confront Your Thought Process

Thoughts of the future or present that are negative will lead to stress. Understanding why you are experiencing stress in a situation all comes down to understanding your thought process. Learn how to adjust your thought process away from stressful triggers and scenarios.

  1. Blow Up a Balloon

Blowing up a balloon forces you to engage in deep breathing, which is one of the tried and true ways to manage stress effectively. Plus it can provide a fun activity to break up your hectic day!

  1. Have a Stress Relief Plant

A properly kept up plant is pleasing to the eyes and increases the oxygen flow within a room. Having a nice desk plant can help you relieve and prevent stress on a day to day basis.

  1. Massage Your Ears

Although this suggestion may sound strange, rubbing your ears actually allows endorphins to be released into your body. These helpful endorphins will work towards relieving your stress.

  1. Rock Out

Heavy metal music, or any other aggressive, fast-paced genre for that matter, can get your blood pumping and entertain you. These qualities can help you relax yourself out of a stressful state. Getting up and moving along with the music will help this approach work even more effectively.

  1. Work at a Comfortable Pace

When you become overly stressed, it is important that you neither work yourself too hard, or ease up on work too much. Doing either of these will make it difficult for you to continue your work effectively, which will add to your stress levels. Always try to aim for a workload sweet spot that will keep you productive and relaxed.

  1. Target the Source of Your Stress

Sometimes we become stressed out without really understanding why. Locating the source of your stress will help you deal with getting rid of the factors that made it occur in the first place.

  1. Tell Yourself Your Accomplishments for the Day

Feeling incompetent or struggling with a task can lead to stress. If you find yourself in this scenario, take a moment to reassure yourself of positive qualities and accomplishments that you bring to the table.

  1. Unplug Yourself

Computer screens and other tech devices can be difficult to deal with 24/7. If you are feeling your stress level rising try to unplug yourself for a few moments. Having some time to concentrate on your own thoughts will allow you to lower your stress level.

  1. Sniff an Apple

Certain smells can help release stress levels. The scent of an apple is one example. Keep one around for stressful times. You can always eat the apple as well!

17 Scientific Ways To Deal With Stress At Work

Dealing with stress in an effective and healthy manner is one of the primary keys to leading a comfortable work and personal life.

You may have tried tasks such as exercising and deep breathing to help you deal with stress, but there are many other routes that you may not have considered.

Here are 17 useful approaches to help you manage and deal with stress at work:

Pacing

When you’re stressed, getting up and moving about can help relieve tension and allow you to think in a more clear and thoughtful manner. Physical activities, in general, can often provide a useful outlet for relieving stress, but pacing is an approach you can use in nearly any environment. It has the added benefit of reducing the harmful effects of sitting.

Cursing

While you should definitely consider leaving the office before letting out any expletives, getting a little loose with your language can get out pent up stress in a healthy, non-harmful way.

Look at Some Fractals

Studies have shown that images containing fractals allow the brain to focus in a useful way that can allow the mind to calm down, ultimately relieving stress. Try locating a nice snowflake pattern or another fractal poster you can put up in your work or home space.

Re-conceptualize Your Stress

Try to consider any benefits your stress may be providing you in your situation. If you can learn to work along with your stress you may find that it isn’t so bad after all.

Eat Stress Relieving Foods

Eggs, dark chocolate and more have been found to have stress relieving properties. Keep some handy stress relief snacks/food around the office to make your workday more comfortable.

Save the Venting For Later

It is very tempting to vent about the things that are stressing you out, but is counterproductive and can cause your emotions to become even more powerful. Try and wait till later to vent about your stressful experiences.

Confront Your Thought Process

Thoughts of the future or present that are negative/uncertain often lead to stress. Understanding why you are experiencing stress in a situation all comes down to understanding your thought process. Learn how to adjust your thought process away from stressful triggers and scenarios.

Try Balloon Therapy

Blowing up a balloon forces you to engage in deep breathing, which is one of the tried and true ways to manage stress effectively.

Have a Stress Relief Plant

A properly kept up plant is pleasing to the eyes and increases the oxygen flow within a room. Having a nice desk plant can help you relieve and prevent stress on a day to day basis.

Massage Your Ears

Although this suggestion may sound strange, rubbing your ears actually allows endorphins to be released into your body. These helpful endorphins will work towards relieving your stress.

Listen to Music

Different types of music can help you take yourself out of a stressful state. It can also decrease pain and anxiety.

Laugh

It really is the best medicine. Well maybe not the best, but it certainly helps.

Have Some Tea

A cup of tea has some great stress relieving and health benefits.

Target the Source of Your Stress

Sometimes we become stressed out without really understanding why. Locating the source of your stress will help you deal with getting rid of the factors that made it occur in the first place.

Tell Yourself Your Accomplishments for the Day

Feeling incompetent or struggling with a task can lead to stress. If you find yourself in this scenario, take a moment to reassure yourself of your positive qualities and accomplishments.

Unplug Yourself

Computer screens and other tech devices can be difficult to deal with 24/7. If you are feeling your stress level rising try to unplug yourself for a few moments. Having some time to concentrate on your own thoughts will allow you to lower your stress level.

Sniff an Apple

Certain smells can help release stress levels. Apples can help with this. Keep one around for stressful times. You can always eat the apple as well!

Is Your Stress-Level Related To Your Job in Singapore?

In the working world, it is easy to get stressed. Whether you love or loathe your current job or career, there are times when things are going smoothly and other times when your stress levels are through the roof. Is this something that is related to the field of work that you have entered into?

A recent survey was done in Singapore to reflect the nation’s average stress rate. Overall on a scale from happy to unhappy, residents of Singapore rated themselves as an in-between state of “under happy”.

Further data gave more information about why this may be and who the “most stressed” residents were. The following is a list of some of the most stressful industries/jobs in Singapore:

The Arts

Those who work in the arts are some of the most stressed people. Why? A field like the arts is one that requires an immense amount of passion, flexibility and dedication. However, these fields typically have lower levels of pay/salary.

Fast-Moving Consumer Goods

The fast-moving consumer goods industry is one that is split, almost halfway, between the happiest and most stressed workers. Food is one of the most common FMCGs – for many, the food industry is extremely rewarding. However, for others, it is one that is extremely stressful.

e-Commerce

e-Commerce is an industry that is always moving forward. This industry showed a stress level that could be managed. However, it has been gathered that this manageable level of stress is almost constant. Between deadlines and production, e-Commerce is an area of work that will keep you busy constantly.

Legal

People employed in the Legal industry reported very high levels of stress, especially those who joined the workforce recently.

Property and Facilities Management

Professionals in the mid-forties to mid-sixties age group, working in this industry also have high stress levels.

Much of what you do in your career can add stress to your life. The more you love what you do, the less stressed you are likely to be when it comes to deadlines and tasks. Also, one of the keys to lowering work-induced stress is by acknowledging what is giving you the stress and either embracing that aspect of your job, or working towards changing/addressing it.

This short list of different industries is an example of how your job can affect your level of stress. Singapore is a nation that has discovered that only 10% of their surveyed citizens has identified themselves as “stress-free”. The other 90% of Singapore’s citizens consider themselves either stressed or neutral.

Feeling Overwhelmed at Work? Act Sooner Rather Than Later & Seek Help From Your Boss!

Many people feel overwhelmed at work from time to time, and of course with so many employees taking on additional tasks and responsibilities in the wake of lay-offs, the past few years have seen more and more employees struggling to manage their workloads.

Sadly though, what many people do when they start to feel as though they are sinking under the weight is to go into ostrich mode.  Rather than facing the situation head-on and dealing with it, they simply try to put it to the backs of their minds in the hope that it will somehow resolve itself.

overwhelmed-at-work
Don't Go Into Ostrich Mode When You're Overwhelmed

The trouble with any situation that makes us feel snowed under or out of control is that it provokes fear and, if we let it, that fear can paralyze us, or at the very least cause us to procrastinate.  Like with debt problems though, the longer we leave it before we try to get to grips with the situation, the more it spirals out of control and the more difficult it becomes to fix.  Another problem though, is that the shame and humiliation that most people experience when they feel as though things are getting on top of them, can stop them from seeking the very help and support they need.

Recognizing the feelings of being overwhelmed early so that they can be nipped in the bud is absolutely key to taking back control and turning the situation around.  You may already have noticed that despite working longer hours you seem to be getting less done, and that you are permanently in a state of nervousness and anxiety.  Do nothing and not only will the symptoms of stress continue to worsen, but in no time at all you are likely to start missing deadlines or making silly mistakes.  For the sake of your health and your job, you need to take action before these things happen.

Now, while I could suggest at this point that you invest in a decent book on time management to help you get back on track, if you have already reached the stage of feeling overwhelmed by your workload you’re not going to have the time or the clarity of mind to read it and take it in properly.  I could also recommend some relaxation tips to help you de-stress, but these still won’t help you in terms of managing your workload.  What I am going to suggest, therefore, is that you either approach your mentor if you have one, to find out how he or she has dealt with such situations in the past, or do the very thing that most people would avoid at all costs and speak directly to your line manager.

Although the thought of approaching your line manager to discuss your workload might seem like a terrifying prospect, it’s well worth remembering that if you let the situation continue unchecked, you’re going to end up in your manager’s office anyway to answer to missed deadlines or errors – far better that the meeting take place at your request than his or hers.

The second thing to remember is that the purpose of talking to your boss is not to whine about your impossible workload or to dump the problem on his or her desk, but rather to seek your manager’s help and advice on how to organize your projects and assignments so that you are able to get them in on time. Ideally what you want is for your boss to walk through your outstanding workload with you and help you to create targets and an action plan that both of you are happy with.  Do make sure that you walk-in with some ideas and solutions of your own as well. Treat it as a professional/personal development exercise and an opportunity to learn from someone who is more experienced than you.

Although many people would think of approaching their bosses in this way as being a demonstration of weakness or failure, I think the reverse is true.  It takes strength and courage to face up to feeling overwhelmed at work and by proactively seeking help at the earliest possible stage you are demonstrating ownership of the problem and a sense of responsibility. Keep in mind the important thing is that you don’t let the same issues crop-up again and that you continuously improve at what you do.