A job interview is not a test of your knowledge but your ability to use it at the right time.-Anonymous
“Hi, we’ve scheduled your interview for Monday at 4.30 pm.” I begrudgingly say yes and mentally prepare myself to experience a highly stressful time till the end of the interview. If I have 4 days till the interview, I think about it every millisecond of the 4 days and wish for the misery to end as soon as possible. If I were to rank my biggest fears in life, attending job interviews would sit comfortably in the second position right below public speaking, giving it a very close competition.
I don’t know what it is about attending job interviews that makes me so anxious. It could be the stress of knowing every technical aspect of the job, dealing with the embarrassment of not being able to answer a question, the expectation of creating a great first impression, the fact that we are being judged on the basis of our behavior and answers or the self loathing that follows after the end of what you would consider a “bad interview”.
Over the years, I’ve become better at coping up with the anxiety of attending a job interview. I’m less critical of myself and have gained more confidence to deal with the stress of attending an interview. Yet, I’m never able to prepare well and keep pushing the learning bit to the last minute. I don’t know why I do this, I tend to waste my time till the last hour and frantically rush over whatever little I can study at the last hour. Let me list down few techniques and my experiences with such situations to help people like me to turn their anxiety into something productive.
- Set out your intention : Write down or mentally note the reason behind attending the interview. It could be to gain interview experience, earn more salary, the desperate need to change your current job or just a career switch. This would help you focus better on the preparation and give you a solid reason to counter your fears.
- It’s never as bad as I think : As scared as I am to attend job interviews, the actual ones turn to be much easier and manageable than my fears about it. Before the interviews I imagine the interviewers to be the meanest people on earth who throw extremely technical questions at me and judge me if I don’t answer them. This has never happened till date and I’ve been interviewed mostly by warm and humble humans.
- Take a deep breath : My heart tends to race extremely fast right before and during the first few minutes of the interview. One technique that has helped me calm down is taking deep breaths. It gives my mind a breather as well and acts as a slight distraction for my mind from it’s racing thoughts. While taking the deep breaths, I try counting them so that I can divert my mind’s attention to my breathing. It works pretty well for me.
- Prepare : Anxiety is a constant state of fear of the unknown. The best way to deal with such fears is to face them, head on. I’ve cancelled numerous job interviews before just to escape the ordeal of attending them. This has only caused my fear to multiply. I always feel much better and a little proud of myself after attending an interview, despite the outcome. It’s always helpful to take time out to prepare as much as you can before the interview to give yourself a much needed confidence boost. As you attend more interviews, you can find out areas where you can focus more on and be well prepared the next time.
- Reward : I tend to celebrate after attending every job interview as it’s I consider it a big accomplishment regardless of the outcome. There are times when I get disappointed with my performance and tend to beat myself up for lack of better preparation. Nevertheless, every interview ends up being a great learning experience and should be viewed as one.
My goal for the next job interview would be to get over my anxiety and push myself to prepare well for it well in advance. Hope to share a good interview experience whenever I have a next one!