Inoculation against Interview Anxiety
Pandemics aside, no matter how many times one may interview with an employer for a job, the experience is often the same: an unpleasant fear of the unknown. In the case of a job interview, anxiety may hinge on doubt about one’s skills and capabilities, a weak resume, or poor communication skills. Although interview anxiety is common, interview anxiety is manageable.
In my 2017 book, “Behavioral Strengths and Employment strategies,” I suggest that successful job interviews are built on a sense of mutual trust with the interviewer, which ideally happens within the first few minutes of the interview. Applicants desire to believe what they have been told.
Although mostly dependent on the employer’s management of the interview, the sense that the interviewer is being open and honest is an important step toward creating mutual trust and reducing the applicant’s anxiety.
As mutual trust progresses during the interview, an applicant’s anxiety over the unknown is replaced with ease and confidence, and a mutual bond with the employer over common objectives.
You might argue that anxiety and trust are simply different ends of the same spectrum, in that, both are inherently connected, yet opposite of one the other. Interview anxiety represents fear of the unknown, whereas mutual trust represents openness, acceptance and respect.
Granted, mutual trust is complex because it requires guest and host to agree to accept honesty as a communication contract. Without mutual trust, most employment interviews are considered failures. There is nothing more troubling than to feel the interviewer is not being totally honest about the opening which may cause reservations on the part of the interviewee to be completely honest as well.
What is your interview anxiety level?
Using a 5-point scale, rate your relative level of anxiety before a job interview?
Interview Anxiety Low 1🌕 2🌕 3🌕 4🌕 5🌕 high
If your rated interview anxiety is generally on the high side, I have a few basic tips.
1 If the Interview is face-to-face, make sure you know the location. If local, try a dry run making sure you know the location, parking, and transit stops, etc.
2 If the meeting is virtual, be sure to clarify any special instructions, such as Internet links or the need for communication devices, such as having a webcam. Make sure to request a dial-in number in case your virtual meeting connection drops – you can then simply dial in and resume where you left off.
3 Carefully compare the opening to your resume. Map your strengths to the employer’s requirements. Look for words, phases, and “soft” company features that may be hidden “between the lines.” Is the employer pushing toward growth and expansion in the future, for example?
4 The more overlap between your job skills and the job requirements, the greater the chances the employer will include you in their final selection.
Interview anxiety can be reduced, maybe not controlled completely, but certainly reduced. Preparations and “mapping” are two techniques that have helped me and countless others overcome interview anxiety.
Jim McDonald. BA Psychology. MS Industrial Psychology. Emeritus Northern California Human Resources Association. Career as corporate HR executive, consultant, publisher, entrepreneur, coach, and life-long learner.
Darla Miles obtained her MS in Educational Psychology from California State University East Bay. She has over 10 years of experience as a project manager, most recently in the financial services and educational technology industries. She is currently looking for comparable opportunities and can be reached at https://www.linkedin.com/in/darlamiles/