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A job interview can be one of the most nerve wracking events outs there. I believe that uncertainty in important situations is what fuels our anxiety. We so greatly wish to achieve success, get that job, that we put immense pressure on ourselves, creating doubt. This is all perfectly natural.

I have been playing basketball since I was three years old. I am continuing my career today at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. With thousands of games played under my belt, never has a game gone by without butterflies pumping through my stomach. My senior year of high school, my team was fortunate enough to play for a state championship. I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep for days in advance. Before the game I remember my hands trembling and wondering how in the world I was going to hold a basketball, let alone play with one.

Another player named Bill Russell, a much greater player than I am, was said to have thrown up before every game. Imagine being so nervous you were physically sick. Bill Russell played in thirteen NBA seasons, winning eleven championships while averaging fifteen points and twenty two rebounds per game. Not too bad. But hey, at least my team won that state championship game right?

My point is that nerves can be overcome. Personally, there are steps I take in dealing with my nerves before games that I believe can be applicable in other areas. Like a big test, a big piano recital, or a big job interview.

The key is to find ways to ensure that once the ball is tossed up, the first note is played, or the first question asked, those nerves disappear. I like to think of it as finding a rhythm. So now the obvious question, how to find your rhythm?

The first step is preparation. All of my games these days happen on weekends, so my team does something critical during weekdays. That’s right, practice makes perfect. We work on things we need come game time, such as shooting, passing, and dribbling. Our coach also prepares game film on our opponents to learn their strengths and weaknesses.

I’m not sure what day’s of the week your job interview will be on but I’m confident you will have ample time to prepare beforehand. Learn the company inside and out. Be ready to discuss aspects of the company you admire. Look up practice interview questions and review them over and over again. Put yourself in the best position for success. Think about your strengths and weaknesses.

How do you plan on emphasizing your strengths? This is incredibly important because in an interview you want to ensure your strengths are portrayed without going overboard. How will you respond when asked about your weaknesses? Be honest about them, unless you have no weaknesses, which would be pretty cool and in which case you have nothing to be nervous about.

Another thing I like to do is what I call “getting in the zone.” It’s a pretty common idea in sports. Basically around twenty to thirty minutes before the game starts, I isolate myself from most of my teammates. I try to find a quiet place somewhere, and just sit by myself and concentrate. I try to put all of my attention on the task at hand. In the case of a game, I imagine what I need to do to win. I think of the film I watched all week and what I learned. Say I now know that the guy I’ll be guarding can’t shoot three pointers. I remind myself to repeatedly lay off him when he has the ball in order not to let him go by me and get to the hoop.

Whether or not your interviewer can shoot probably won’t matter, but your approach can still be similar. Think about your preparation leading up to this. In basketball it’s critical not to over think things. Doing these things before games allows me to play freely, reacting rather than over thinking my actions and playing poorly.
I believe this can translate into an interview as well. Hopefully this can help you to communicate freely and effectively, find your rhythm and nail that job interview.

IMG_1144JJ Weir
JJ Weir is a future CPA whose NBA dreams were cut short due to average height and a lack of athleticism. He currently studies accounting at Rhodes College. He is also a member of the Varsity Basketball Team.

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