How To Handle Interview Anxiety

Palms sweat, heart races, voice shakes, it’s hard to breathe. If this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone. These are just some of the many symptoms people experience before and during a job interview. The phenomenon of interview anxiety afflicts even the most successful and naturally confident, and sometimes it feels that there’s no fix or trick.

“Being anxious going into an interview is completely normal,” explains Charlotte Bull, psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. “Job interviews can be extremely anxiety inducing. This can be for a range of reasons including being the focus of so much attention, being questioned about your performance, and the knowledge that making mistakes could be costly.”

“A bit of anxiety can be helpful, because it can motivate us and improve performance. The problem arises when that anxiety becomes extreme and impacts on how you present during an interview.”

SEEK offers some easily implemented solutions for reducing anxiety at job interviews:

Interview preparation is the key to reducing anxiety: Learn as much as you can about the company, brainstorm potential interview questions, identify your past achievements and how they are relevant to the role and practise answering questions out loud.

Role play the interview: Prepare for the interview by role-playing with people you trust. After the mock interview, consider your strengths and where you can improve. Also notice how you felt during different points of the interview. Ask for feedback as it’s possible that your nervousness is less apparent than you think.

Take action over what you can control: “It is normal to feel anxious before a job interview. Action is a powerful antidote to the fear that often accompanies interviewing for jobs. Focus on acting in those areas of the job interview process you can control. For example, you may find it helpful to practice your elevator pitch with a trusted friend, family member or career coach.

Think about managing anxiety, rather than trying to eliminate it: To manage anxiety reactions in your body, focus on taking slow, abdominal breaths, and recognise that the feelings may be uncomfortable, but they are not dangerous. To manage anxious thoughts, consider the situation as a challenge, rather than an insurmountable threat. Together, these approaches can normalise the experience of anxiety and make it feel less catastrophic.

Visualise your success at the interview: Imagine yourself walking into the interview room, shaking hands with the interviewers and answering their questions with confidence. Visualise them calling you up to offer you a position after the interview.

Change your mind-set about the interview: Remember it’s not just about them interviewing you. It’s also an opportunity for you to find out if they are the right organisation for you. Does the workplace culture align to your values? Does the offered salary match what you believe your skills and experience are worth?

Dress for success: Wearing clothes that look and feel great will help you to feel more confident at the interview. Remember, first impressions count!

Put the interview into perspective and don’t lose sight of the big picture: Remember it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get offered the role. There will be other opportunities. Ask yourself, “what is the worst that can happen?”

Plan ahead: Look up the map location of the interview and plan how you are going to get there, how long it will take, where you will park if you are driving, etc. Arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes early so you have time to familiarise yourself with the environment and mentally prepare yourself.

Utilise an Interview Coach: A professional interview coach is a great resource to better prepare for the interview process. They can give you insights into what the hiring manager is looking for and help you prepare your elevator pitch, responding to the dreaded ‘tell me about yourself’ question.

There is no single, perfect fix to job interview nerves so use whatever tactics or tricks work best for you. A little anxiety can be healthy, indicating you care about the outcome, and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to show prospective employers how and why you’re perfect for the job.

We offer career and interview coaching as part of our services and can assist with handling those pre-interview nerves.

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