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What job seekers can learn from elite athletes

Visualize success like an Olympic athlete and ace the interview.
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Visualization has long been a part of elite sports. Athletes use imagery to prepare themselves for the most grueling competitions. Take American Gold Medal alpine skier, Mikaela Shiffrin for example. In preparation for the recent Winter Olympics she visualized the slalom course numerous times in preparation, either with eyes closed or open, but always in ‘the zone’. Visualization has become such an integral part of elite sports that the US Olympic Team employed nine sports psychologists to coach 90+ athletes in Sochi.

According to an article recently published by Christopher Clarey, Chief Sports Correspondent for the New York Times, research has shown that athletes who were adept at imaginary play as children – “imaginary friends, make believe, etc.” – were better at imagery.

Just as visualization helps our Olympic athletes, it can play a huge role in preparing you for the job interview. Imagine your answer to the interview question, “Why should I hire you”? Most people struggle with this question; yet if they saw themselves in control of the answer ahead of time, they would do a much better job of answering the question.

Visualizing the entire interview meeting from the moment you shake hands to the time you say ‘thank you’ allows you to feel relaxed and in control of the meeting, while you engage in thoughtful dialogue with the interviewer.

Imagery can invoke all the senses. The next time you prepare for an interview imagine hearing the friendly voice of the person you will be meeting with. Imagine he or she has just shared a funny story with you to break the ice. Think about feeling completely relaxed, devoid of any ‘pit-in-the-stomach’ anxiety. Or better yet, imagine the voicemail you listen to after your interview, telling you they would like to make you an offer!

And the next time you find yourself walking up to the employment lobby full of negative thoughts, be sure to plug in some positive ones. This will go a long way to getting you in the right frame of mind. And just for fun, think back to your child hood. Did you spend countless hours playing make believe? If so, now is time to let your imagination run wild and ace that interview. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.