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5 Tips to Overcoming Interview Anxiety

Leave your fear and anxiety behind and ace your next interview.

Gladiathor/ GETTY IMAGES
Gladiathor/ GETTY IMAGES

Interviews can be nerve racking experiences. There is anxious anticipation for the day and it’s either a swift and painful ordeal or a slow and agonizing meeting that you can’t wait to get out of. Either way, the interview must happen. Interviews shouldn’t be dreaded. Here are four ways you can make the interview process less painful, more effective and leave a positive impression.

1. Aim for Mutual Discovery

Most interviewees go into the interview process thinking the company is going to ask all these difficult questions and they need to answer everything perfectly. This expectation can leave applicants sounding scripted and monotonous. Interviews should be about mutual discovery between yourself and the company. The interview provides an opportunity to understand the requirements for the role, seek clarity and demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the opportunity. While doing that you also have an opportunity to view aspects of the culture of the organization, learn about expectations that may not have been stated in the job description and evaluate if you would like to work at that company.

Expert Tip: Leave a positive impression by using the mutual discovery process to build rapport.

2. Learn through Questions

Use the interview to ask as many questions to learn and facilitate that mutual discovery process. I recommend that you bring the job description with you and all the questions you had when you read it. Use your questions to break up the flow of the interview. While you listen to the responses, you can gain some time to take a breath, recollect your thoughts, learn more about the position and get more information. The insights can help you reinforce why you are a good fit or discover if this opportunity is really a good fit for you.

Expert Tip: Make them remember you by not just asking the question but also tying in why you are a good fit.

3. Be Body Conscious

Your body is an easy tell tale that you are nervous or anxious. It takes real deliberate action and practice to coach your body into posturing properly in a formal environment, including interviews. If you are not aware of your tendencies, have someone watch you interview or ask for feedback from an interviewer. Body language speaks loudly in an interview. You want to ensure that your body language matches what you are saying and conveys a positive image. Focus on the most common areas that are noticed – the face, hands and feet.

Expert Tip: Show that you are interested by frequently maintaining eye contact and sitting upright.

4. Be Authentic

The applicant pool is growing. It is often hard just to get to the interview stage. When you get there, try not to be what the employer thinks they are looking for, be YOU. Some people may argue that you should try to conform to the requirements of the job. My recommendation is always to stay true to yourself. Some people fear the disappointment in the interview process and see it as a final determinant on their abilities. Interviews are really a formal exchange meeting. Whether the outcome is an offer or rejection, be yourself, sell yourself well, and you will find the right opportunity for you.

Expert Tip: Be sure to show the interviewer what unique strengths and perspective you bring to the role.

5. Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!

All of the points mentioned above will be pointless if you do not prepare. A popular quote by Henry Hartman emphasizes ‘Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity’. The interview is your opportunity to get up close and personal with the company. Adequate preparation ensures that every moment you spend in that interview will yield the intended result. When you are anxious, that can prove difficult. As a result, it may be necessary to include additional resources like a Career Coach, videos, podcasts and books to help you prepare for the big moment. Whichever you choose, ensure that you prepare.

Expert Tip: Articulating what you know about the company and showing how you can add value are great ways to demonstrate you did your homework.

Overcoming interview anxiety lies in the preparation, knowledge of yourself and using that to your advantage. Keys to overcoming your anxiety include aiming for mutual discovery in the process, learning through questions, being body conscious, authentic and ensuring you adequately prepare. 

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