A stressful meeting or interview can bring up lots of feelings, depending on why it was challenging – perhaps frustration, uncertainty, despondency, or alarm. Your organisation may have protocols around specific events you may encounter in an interview, for example, a risk to your physical safety or a client expressing suicidal thoughts. Making sure you are aware and confident about these types of policy can help you cope with them more easily should they arise. Other circumstances that arise in an interview may not have a protocol but can still take an emotional toll. Here are some tips and techniques to help after a challenging meeting or interview.

Take some time

Taking a short break after a meeting can be a useful way to get some distance from the event and have some time to reflect. Depending on how you’re feeling and your own preferences, what you spend that break doing may vary. If you have a lot of nervous energy following the encounter, a walk or some physical exercise may help you discharge it. Talking to someone about what has happened can also be really useful, as you will be able to get feedback and reassurance, and often talking things through can be helpful for ordering one’s thoughts and releasing emotions. If you’re working remotely, finding someone who is available can be more difficult, but making use of technology such as Teams can be useful. If there is no one around to listen, writing everything down or finding an alternative way to talk things through with yourself can have a similar effect. You may simply want to sit quietly and concentrate on your breathing, or you might prefer to find a task or activity to absorb yourself in. Try to think about what is going on around you in the present moment. Is there anything you need; are you hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, jittery, lonely? Is there anything you can do to address this, like getting a cup of tea or reaching out to a colleague?

Re-establishing sphere of control

One of the factors that often contributes to stress and frustration is feeling a lack of control. Meetings and interviews are often places where we may find that another person has not acted in the way that we might have hoped they would, or that there is news that we couldn’t have prepared for. While the common advice is to accept what you can’t control, we recognise that this can be much easier said than done. That said, there are some techniques that can help.

One of these involves identifying what parts of a situation ‘belong’ to and are controllable by you, and what parts are somebody else’s. For instance, sometimes there is an expectation that advisers will fix a client’s problem. This framing makes you as the adviser responsible for something you can’t actually control (e.g. whether a creditor accepts an offer, whether the client provides the information you need), and removes agency from the client.  In reality, a more accurate description of your role is that you give information and guidance to help the client make a decision about their own finances. In this alternative framing, the bit you are responsible for as the adviser– the information and advice – is entirely within your control, and the decisions made belong to your client.  Considering a situation in terms of what is and isn’t controllable by you can make it easier to see what parts you can affect, and thus help you decide the best thing to do. Following a difficult meeting or interview, it is worth reflecting on if there is anything left to do that’s in your power, or if you have taken responsibility for anything outside of your control that you might be able to release.

This article is a companion to the eLearning module Following a Difficult Interview. The module takes around 10 minutes to complete and can be returned to at any time. For more information on managing stress, please consider attending our Stress Management and Resilience course. You can see future dates here.