Your worst job interview fears—solved!
Got the goose bumps and cold sweats? Make sure anxiety doesn’t ruin your chances with this easy advice.
The clammy palms. The thundering heartbeat. The spiking blood pressure.
No, we’re not talking about how you feel when you watch Halloween II; we’re talking about how what happens when you go to a job interview. Whether you are a first-time job seeker or a workforce veteran, walking into a interview can scare the daylights out of you.
It doesn’t matter how polished that resume is or how often you practiced giving your answers to a mirror—your can nerves take over. So what do you do?
Lynda Spiegel, founder of New York-based career coaching firm Rising Star Resumes delves into the deepest, darkest job interview fears and comes out with solutions that will hopefully calm you down … before that introductory handshake.
The fear: “I’ll look like a fool!”
“Candidates forget that the interviewer once interviewed for her job,” Spiegel says. “Just come prepared and picture the interviewer making a fool of herself at her interview.”
Perhaps most importantly, Spiegel says, candidates should limit their comments, questions and answers to what they actually know.
“Don’t try to be an expert on everything,” she says. “It’s less embarrassing to honestly say, ‘I don’t know,’ than it is to blunder your way through a topic.”
The fear: “They’re judging me!”
Spiegel says they are, so get over it. After all, an interview is a performance.
But you’re better off not acting: “Be your authentic self, not the image of what you think the interviewer is looking for,” she adds.
Remind yourself that if they don’t like you for you, you won’t want to work there. Keep in mind that you get to play judge too—deciding whether the company, division and boss are really the best fit for you.
The fear: “I’ll forget my key points!”
Accept that you probably will. Since writing them on your palm won’t look good, Spiegel suggests that you create a presentation to demonstrate your points, “and there they will be, right in front of you.”
Besides guaranteeing that you won’t forget the most important messages, this kind of document shows that you’re invested in demonstrating your expertise.
You should also consider role-playing with a family member or friend to practice your interview before the big day arrives. “Winging the interview in today’s market is a big mistake,” Carole Martin, author of What to Say in Every Job Interview, wrote for another article on Monster. “Preparation will make you feel more confident and less anxious.”
You might even try meditation or other relaxation exercises beforehand if you are worried that panic could erase your prep work.
The fear: “My fly is unzipped!”
Worried about a wardrobe malfunction? Start by laying out your outfit the night before—even trying it on so you know “your suit fits, is clean and pressed, and that the zipper isn’t broken,” Spiegel says.
Then be sure to arrive 10 minutes early, ask for the restroom and check your outfit in the mirror.
If something still goes wrong after that—which is unlikely—know you can get through it with a laugh or a joke. Janet Jackson did.
The fear: “I’ll never get this job!”
Only one person will, so not getting it won’t make you a loser, Spiegel says. “Adopt a Zen-like detachment from wanting it so much and focus on doing your best at the moment.”
You might also take a page from cognitive behavioral therapy and find a mantra to repeat to yourself that will help you lower the stakes of the interview. Something like, “If this doesn’t work out, I’ll find another better opportunity later,” can help you reduce the pressure you’re putting on yourself.
Also, try to enjoy a sense of pride for just walking through the door and allowing someone to critique you.
“When you have done everything to prepare for the interview, and you are satisfied that you can present yourself in the best light possible, the next step is for you to let it go,” Martin says. “You can learn something from each interview.”