How to Deal with Interview Anxiety

Published: Feb 09, 2022

Topics: Career Readiness       Interviewing       Job Search       

You’ve fine-tuned your resume, you’ve put in dozens of hours or more on every single job search platform in existence, and you’ve aced all the aptitude tests Indeed can throw at you. Now you’re getting responses and you’re fired up; the sun has risen and your destiny is true – it’s time to claim your prize. You thoughtfully respond to each potential employer and then suddenly it dawns on you; you’re going to have to schedule an interview. Courage and confidence are replaced with fright and uncertainty, even dread, and you begin to collapse inwardly towards the terrible core of your greatest fears. Yes friends, we’re talking about interview anxiety.

Whether you’ve never interviewed before or it’s been many years since your last one, you may be facing crippling anxiety at the thought of an impending interview. Today we will be learning how to defeat interview anxiety, but first let’s talk about what’s normal. It is normal to feel some degree of nervousness or anxiety at the thought of an interview, no matter how seasoned you are. Of course, the effects may be less so if you’re a veteran, but let’s not rush it. Understanding that you are not alone in your feelings can go a long way towards the remedy.

Next, let’s answer the question of why we feel anxiety at the thought of a job interview. This is actually quite simple: you’re about to be examined closely with regards to your experience, your personality, your appearance, and all of the various aspects of yourself that make you…ehem…”you” in this particular situation. Furthermore, you might be relying on this interview because you’ve recently lost your job and you’re struggling to pay the bills. That last one can be a real pain, what with the stakes being so high. It helps to recognize the root cause of your interview anxiety, kind of like revealing the head of a serpent. Now you know where to strike.

Some people say that when you’re faced with an uncomfortable situation, you should head straight into it. The way out is through, and all that jazz. This is true in most cases, and within reason, and an upcoming interview just happens to be one such case. Being prepared to deal with your fears head on is the best way to increase your chances at victory. Start by reviewing your resume and getting comfortable talking about your work history and education. Ask a friend or a family member to help you practice interviewing. If possible, have them come up with their own questions so you can’t as easily anticipate what your answers should be.

Another thing to try is talking into the mirror. This will help you get a feel for how you look while talking about your experiences. Ultimately, it should relieve negative feelings and reassure you that you don’t look foolish, and that you simply look like you answering questions. As silly as it may seem, that’s a big reason why people get nervous or have anxiety about speaking in an interview; they are afraid of how they look or seem to others. It’s best to ignore those feelings the best you can, as in most cases it’s simply not true. This of course also depends on whether you wear that cool incognito disguise you got at the dollar store to your interview, so uh… don’t do that.

Researching your potential employers is of the utmost importance. Learning about the company, their values, employee benefits, and other details can not only give you more confidence for your interview, but it will be helpful when the interviewer inevitably asks “do you have any questions for me?” You can take notes if you have to, and don’t be embarrassed to bring a notepad with you to an interview because no one ever said “you take too many notes” and actually meant it. Remember, we’re not looking for perfection here, we are just trying to get through an interview safely and with as little mess as possible. Skill and ironclad composure will come with time and experience, and the only way to get there is by allowing yourself be imperfect, and to make mistakes once in a while.

Try to imagine the worst-case scenario: you don’t get the job. This can be particularly stressful if you’ve got bills piling up, but the good news is there will be another interview. Try to see each interview as a learning experience, and keep in mind that the interviewer is aware of how stressful the situation can be because after all, they had to be interviewed too. Take your time while speaking and answering questions; it’s better to be slow than rushing and tripping over your words. Don’t slouch - if you’re sitting up straight it will exude confidence. Finally, take deep breaths and remain calm and relaxed. Above all else, do your best to remain positive, no matter the outcome.

From personal experience, I find it helps to listen to some music on the way to your interview. Try to find music that puts you in a good mood, or that gets you excited. I prefer certain selections from the Rocky IV soundtrack, or Stan Bush’s “The Touch,” but that’s just me. With a little time, you’ll be tackling interviews with confidence and poise, and you’ll look back on how far you’ve come. The nervousness and anxiety may return from time to time, but you’ll be ready to conquer it like a bulletproof tiger.

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