Overcoming Interview Anxiety

It’s hard to overstate the pressure many of us are feeling right now. With COVID-19 lurking in the background, just going to the grocery store forces both a risk assessment and a cost-benefit analysis. Entire countries are being locked down while medical experts and politicians offer conflicting advice on how to best handle the situation.

That pressure is exacerbated for those in the job market. The economy is tight, and with so many people looking for work, interviews are even more difficult to get. If you’re lucky enough to have an interview, the pressure to convert the interview into an offer can be overwhelming.

To help you get through your interview, here are 5 different strategies that you can use to stay calm while everything around you seems to be enveloped in chaos.

Prepare for the Worst

Spend some time thinking about the worst things that could go wrong during the interview. Maybe you’re worried about the internet crashing during a zoom interview, or you’re afraid that you’ll face some really difficult questions.

Take a pen and paper and create two columns. On the left side write down your three biggest fears. Then, on the right side, describe the way you are going to overcome those fears.

The right side of the page is a list of your action items to help you prepare for the interview. As you prepare for the very worst things that can happen, you’ll feel confident that you can handle anything that comes your way during the interview. 

Visualize Success 

Visualization helps prime your brain for success, but more importantly, it directs your brain to behave in a certain way. This is more than simply yes-talk. You’re going to use guided imagery to take yourself through the interview.

Start by finding a quiet place without any distractions. Take a few minutes and just breathe slowly and deeply. As you start to relax, gently close your eyes, and picture yourself in the interview. Breathe in and picture the details that are in front of you. Visualize the interviewer asking you questions and imagine yourself drawing on past experiences and anecdotes as you answer them. Imagine the smell of the room, the taste of a glass of water that you sip while the interviewer asks questions.

Stay in the scene for as long as you need, and when you’re ready, count backwards from ten to one before opening your eyes. You’re starting to train your brain to recognize the interview, and when the actual interview comes, you’ll feel comfortable and able to perform at your peak.

Interview the Interviewer

Job candidates often feel stress because they have no control over their environment. If you’d like to take some measure of control, prepare questions to ask your interviewer.

For example, ask questions that would help you decide whether to take the job if offered. Find out if the company is aligned with your values and if this role will help take your career in the direction that you want it to go.

This conversation helps put the interviewer on notice that you are also making a decision in this process, which will make you more desirable to the company that is hiring.

Understand the Process

Anxiety frequently stems from the unknown. People are understandably nervous when they don’t know what’s coming next. If need be, send the interviewer an email or text asking them about the process before your interview, or ask them what you should expect at the beginning of the interview.

This conversation will help soothe your anxiety. Once you understand what comes next, you can focus on this step and put your energy toward succeeding at each individual stage in the process.

Embrace the Anxiety

For many, anxiety hinders their ability to excel, but for others it can induce higher levels of focus. If you are someone who feels the fear and uses that as motivation to do better, your anxiety acts as a motivating force that positions you to excel in times of stress.

When anxiety strikes, your muscles tense up, your breathing quickens, and your heart starts to pound. These are similar to physical responses that you experience when you are excited about something. People who excel at channeling their anxiety to help them focus are able to reframe those feelings of nervousness, and “flip the switch” through positive self-talk. By doing so, they use their nervous energy rather than try and get rid of it.  

Nail that Interview and Get the Job

When left uncontrolled, anxiety can stop people from taking the steps needed to move forward. Overcoming or controlling your anxiety during an interview will put you in position to succeed, and land that job.