Interview Anxiety (A Comprehensive Guide)

Interview Anxiety

In my whole life up till now, I have never met a single individual who was not nervous before an important job interview.

As there is a lot riding on your performance during the interview so it is not surprising to experience some anxiety about the whole process which can be about different things like concerning your outfit whether you are wearing the correct outfit or not, it can be related to not able to answer the questions in the interview perfectly, to look foolish during the whole process or the worst of them all, not getting any job offer at all.

Feeling anxious or stressed about something especially an important job interview just means that you want to do well in the process.

In fact your anxiety can end up in motivating you to be better prepared for the interview, keep you alert during the process and provide you with enough energy to go through it all.

But in similar fashion anxiety can also prevent you from doing your best by weakening or distracting your memory during the interview.

Some of the tips for calming your mind and anxiety and it might also help you in taking advantage of the situation are:

Interview Anxiety (A Comprehensive Guide)

1. Always be careful about what you are having to drink or eat right before an important job interview.  

It is best to avoid caffeine right before an interview as it might fuel up your interview anxiety and it is not a good idea to have any alcoholic drink too right at the brink of an interview even though you might think that it will calm you down.

Always try to eat something light so that you remain light headed and your stomach is not making sounds during the interview process.

Whereas if you eat heavily right before the interview, it can make you feel tired and sleepy so it is best to eat moderately and also make sure to check the mirror so that you are looking neat and clean.

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2. Even if you are nervous, do not force yourself to calm your nerves because forcing yourself might have the opposite effect and you will end up in increasing your stress.

Interview Anxiety (A Comprehensive Guide)

3. You cannot always control what you are asked for in an interview or in which direction it is going but you can control the way in which you can prepare for that specific job interview.

 It is always best to control the way in which you are gonna prepare for the interview, try to use the anxiety you are having to your advantage and to motivate you to prepare well for the interview.

Do some basic research about the organization, practice your handshake, practice responses to general interview questions and practice telling about the positive and powerful points about your skills.

The more knowledgeable and prepared you are about your potential interviewers or employer, your chances to perform well at the interview also improves.

If it is possible for you to try doing a mock interview beforehand with one of your friends or if you are still in college, there are a lot of career centers that often offer some mock interviews beforehand which can help you in polishing your skills.

You can always ask your friends to help you out and ask you typical questions regarding the interview.

Also, in case if you are traveling for the interview it is always best to know about the place beforehand and also to be there with enough time to spare.

Do not go for it at the last minute and create panic or rush, always have enough time beforehand to compensate for possible traffic delays or late flights. 

4. Always be jotting down your spinning thoughts somewhere, make a list of all of the things that pop into your head.

Writing can be one of the most helpful and therapeutic tasks that can help you to reduce your anxiety generally in daily routine life and not only for job interviews.

It can be much helpful during the case of interview anxiety and can also help you cover up the list of things needed to overcome it.

.5. Always be open to question your thoughts and always ask yourself this question, “Is this true ?” 

Always remember, just because you have a hunch or a gut feeling or you feel like this is right or true, it does not make it true.

Are you open to dispute against your emotional thoughts with your logic?

Have a go at changing the way you think to open up a way to change your mind.

There is also a chance that multiple unhelpful thoughts might also be the reason for increasing your  interview anxiety levels.

Interview Anxiety (A Comprehensive Guide)

6. One of the exercises that can help you out with interview anxiety is taking deep breaths. 

Whenever an individual is anxious, his breathing starts to be shallow.

Just take a second and start breathing in for a total count of four and hold the breath in for two and then out for the same count of four.

Do the same exercise for two to four minutes.

This exercise can be done anywhere and it is not highly noticeable so nobody around will notice much.

You can also take a few minutes in your car in the parking lot after you park your car to do this exercise, there are a lot of other breathing techniques too that can help you out.

7. Sighing can also help you out when you are stressed or in anxiety, as it can be hard to breathe sometimes so sighing instead might also help you out.

Take a break from your daily routine and let out a sigh, this will end up in you feeling a little more relaxed and your shoulders feel like less heavy and the tension around your shoulder and neck loosening up a little which is because of the response to anxiety.

8. You can also boost up your confidence by doing the superhero posture. 

It is known as the power boost and usually helps out with interview anxiety by energizing you.

Just stand tall and place your hands on your hips like Superman or any superhero with your elbows jutting out giving you the impression that you are standing on top of the world and have your own domain with you observing over it and taking care of it.

Take some deep breaths while you are doing the pose and always remember that you are in the face the in charge of the world but make sure about the place where you do this pose so that you are not made fun of because of it.

But it is always good to be yourself and feel a little bit in charge of your own life.

9. One other way to lessen up anxiety is to practice self-compassion. 

Try to focus on these specific words: Warmth, Strength, Wisdom, Nonjudgement.

Try to repeat these words to yourself while breathing and focus on these and try not to do any critique on yourself while you are doing this whole exercise.

Make sure that you do not say anything to yourself that you normally would not say to one of your good friends.

This is a great exercise to increase self-compassion in a person and also to reduce anxiety at the same time.

10. Another way to reduce stress and anxiety is to get outside of yourself and do not be self-centered or self-focused. 

Interview Anxiety most of the time causes us to be more self-focused and we stop considering the things around us which can often make us lose our focus.

Make it a habit of yours to try focusing on others and try being empathic with other people around you.

When you are going for an interview, try to greet the receptionist with a nice smile, ask them how their day is going along, meet your interviewer with a smile and do ask them about their day.

Try to remember the names of the person who is telling you and pay attention to them when they are talking with you.

Try to engage with others in discussions and generally talk as much as you can. 

11. Another way to release interview anxiety is by practicing how you can redirect questions, there might be a way for you to control the interview by helping the interviewer in choosing questions in accordance with your preparation by answering in such a way that it gives the examiner the option to push another supplementary question in or by redirecting the direction of the interview through your answers towards the questions you want the interviewer to ask you.

This all comes down to how well you are prepared for the interview and how well you are feeling good about it.

There is a high chance that you will always feel interview anxiety right before an important job interview which is not necessarily a bad thing at all.

But if this interview anxiety stops you from moving forward or keeps you stationary at the same point then it is never too late to seek professional help in this matter.

There are different treatments related to anxiety which can help you overcome it as having interview anxiety is never a good excuse for not doing well during a job interview. 

Don’t Give In to Desperation

Remember the job opportunity is just another chance and it is not the end of the world so no matter how desperate you are for the job, always approach the job interview as an opportunity and not as your whole life.

Your future is not only dependent on this job only and there might be other opportunities for you in the future which might be even better than this and more suitable for you.

From the interviewer’s point of view, needless can be awkward whereas enthusiasm is good as he does not know you from before and is seeing you for the first time.

So it is best if you show off your best qualities to him rather than your worst ones and not blow up the whole thing.

So no matter what happens in a job interview, always keep learning from it and improve in your next job interview.

This will also help you get the interview anxiety in control and make it your strong point rather than a weak one.

FAQs about interview anxiety

How do I stop anxiety before an interview?

Some of the ways to stop interview anxiety or to help one relax are: 

Don’t “force” yourself to calm down.

Be careful what you drink or eat prior to an interview.

Jot down your spinning thoughts.

Control the things you are gonna prepare for the interview.

Is it normal to be nervous about an interview?

It is quite normal to feel a certain degree of interview anxiety right before an important job interview which can be based on several factors as it always brings in external pressure which is normal.

References

Katharine Brooks (2015): “10 Ways to Calm Your Interview Anxiety”

Pamela Skillings (n.d.): “Face the Fear: How to Overcome Job Interview Anxiety

Interview Anxiety (A Comprehensive Guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.