Job interviews: the pinnacle of the job search and breeding ground for a whole host of anxieties. From clammy palms to feelings of inadequacy, fear can derail even the most qualified candidate. Understanding what makes us tick and equipping ourselves with effective coping mechanisms can turn your interview fear into fuel for success.

So, what exactly are we so afraid of?

  1. The Unknown: Not knowing what questions will be thrown your way or the company culture you’ll be stepping into can feel like navigating a minefield. Combat this by using your network to learn more about the company, anticipating questions, and preparing stories showcasing your skills and experience. This reduces unknowns and builds confidence.
  2. Performance Anxiety: The dreaded “deer in headlights” moment can happen to anyone but practice does make perfect! Conduct mock interviews, preferably on video, with friends or family. Rehearse answering questions about your accomplishments, setbacks, and overcoming obstacles. Watch the videos and note how much your answers improve for extra confidence.
  3. Rejection: Unfortunately, rejection is part of the process, but the fear of failing to land the job can be paralyzing. Focus on learning from each interview and celebrating your progress. Every interview hones your skills and gets you closer to your dream job. Do not fear rejection because it is just another step on the ladder to success.
  4. Feeling Judged: Worrying about how you’re perceived can be overwhelming. Shift the focus from perfection to showcasing your genuine enthusiasm and potential. Ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate your emotional intelligence and interest in the role.
  5. Uncomfortable Interview Styles: Panel interviews, group discussions, or video calls can add extra stress. Familiarize yourself with the format beforehand. Two of my candidates last year did not check their technology before a video interview, and one did not even download the correct platform for the interview until 2 minutes before the interview creating unnecessary strain. For video interviews, ensure a stable internet connection and test your audio and video in advance. Don’t forget to smile!!!

Beyond preparation, remember these key strategies and always project a sense of calm:

  • Positive Self-Talk: Challenge negative thoughts with affirmations spoken out loud. “I am prepared” and “I have something valuable to offer” can work wonders. Say it again!
  • Breathe and Relax: Deep breathing exercises before and during the interview can calm your nerves and sharpen your focus. Just before an interview I take three slow, deep breaths through my nose and breathe out slowly through my mouth. Honestly, this 60 second exercise makes me feel a bit calmer every time. This works wonders for the Nervous Nellie reading today’s column.
  • Focus on the Conversation: Remember, an interview is a two-way street. Ask questions, learn about the role and company, and gauge if it’s a good fit for you. And don’t just assume the company knows you are interested. Ask questions that demonstrate your interest.

By understanding your fears and actively preparing and implementing effective coping mechanisms, you can transform your interview experience from anxiety-ridden to empowering. Remember, confidence is not the absence of fear, but the courage to move forward despite fear. Now go out there and conquer that interview beast!


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