Interview fear is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s natural, stemming from the human desire to seek approval and validation. So, first, when trying to deal with your interview fear, it’s important to recognize that interview fear is normal—and have some compassion for yourself when you notice the fear coming up. It’s also important to understand that lessening your interview fear is entirely possible. And here are three things you can do that’ll go a long way toward reducing that fear.
1. Notice where you’re placing your attention.
Where you place your attention in interviews will determine how much fear you have. If your attention is mainly on yourself—on you really wanting the job, on you wanting your interviewer to like you, on what you want to get from the position—you’ll feel nervous, tense, worried, and a lot of fear.
On the other hand, if your attention is placed on your interviewer’s needs and on the organization's goals, you’ll find that your fear is lessened, maybe even gone entirely. The reason is your attention is moved away from you and on to something external.
So, when interviewing (before and during), make sure to focus on what’s important to the hiring manager and company, and then try to showcase the skills and experiences you have that match these needs—as opposed to trying to get your interview to like you and think you’re smart, great, etc. That will just result in more fear.
2. Move away from an approval-seeking mindset.
We all seek approval, but when an approval-seeking mindset leads, it leads us down a dark path. When interviewing, if you spend most of your energy on seeking approval from your interviewer, you’ll stay in a place of fear. You won’t be confident in yourself and abilities—unless you think your interview approves of them. This causes you to be constantly on guard, anxious, and off-balance. And you’ll only feel calm when you feel “approved of.”
Also, when an approval-seeking mindset leads in an interview, your interviewer will sense that you aren’t being truthful, which will certainly hurt your chances of progressing further in the interview process. The thing is, people are automatically turned off by approval-seeking. And so, when you intrinsically believe that you’re not good enough without someone’s approval, that someone intuitively senses there’s something off about your answers.
The takeaway here is to understand that interviewing is not about looking for approval. Again, you’re simply trying to match the needs of the position with your skills and experiences. Of course, you’ll be watching your interviewer for verbal and physical cues to know when to emphasize something and when to add to your answer, but you don’t want to lead with an approval-seeking mindset. Realize that, if you were chosen to interview, you have what it takes to succeed in the job—your interview is just a time when you need to communicate this.
3. Embrace the possibility of rejection.
If you can embrace that just showing up for an interview is a big feat in itself—which it is!—you’ll be ahead of so many other people who fear rejection so much they aren’t even willing to go to an interview.
The truth is risking rejection means you’re doing it right—risking rejection is required to succeed in anything meaningful. In fact, rejection is part of the curriculum that successful people embrace early on. Successful people have come to understand that rejection is unavoidable. Think of it this way: you can be the best, juiciest, sweetest, most delicious peach in the world, but there will always be someone who doesn't like peaches, and that’s okay.
This doesn’t mean that rejection should feel good or okay—it can hurt. It just means that rejection is a possible outcome—an outcome everyone who’s trying to progress their careers deals with at various points. So, try your best to embrace rejection. You’ll find that the less emphasis you place on rejection, the less fear you’ll have.
Natalie Fisher is best known for helping professionals land their dream jobs and achieve explosive salary growth (even with little experience). If you want to dive deeper on the topic of your career mindset and become a person who knows exactly how to land their dream job, listen to her podcast Get a 6-Figure Job You Love.
One way to begin this is answer is by saying that you’ve gained a lot of experience leading teams and groups in college and in your past jobs, and have encountered this situation a few times. Then you could say that you’ve found the key first step to dealing with an underperforming colleague was honest communication.
With the Covid-19 variant spreading quickly, many white-collar employees will still working remotely for some time, so virtual interviews are the norm—and will likely be so for the foreseeable future. This means that, to grow your career, you need to know how to nail a virtual interview.