If you have a job interview coming up, these strategies will help you to calm your job interview anxiety so that you can perform at your best.
Reassure yourself that there are always other job opportunities so that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is your last chance ever to land a great job. If you start telling yourself some scary story about how you have only one remaining opportunity so you better do well, of course you will be so stressed out, your nerves are likely to get the best of you.
Some anxiety is fine because it looks like energy, enthusiasm, and excitement. Anxiety is only a problem when it gets so intense that it interferes with performance.
Remember that even seasoned entertainers get anxious before they go out on stage. They learn to do well, anyway, and you can, too. If job anxiety is consistently sabotaging your job search, hire a communications professional who specializes in helping people prepare for big presentations like TED talks or venture capital pitches. Here’s an example of a Seattle-based communications coach, Connie Miller, who is excellent at curing speaker’s anxiety. I’ve worked with her myself and she’s excellent.
When given a choice, choose morning interview times so that you don’t spend the entire day waiting for the interview to start.
Invest in your career by spending a few hours researching the company and the type of job interview questions they tend to ask. Use sites like Glassdoor and CareerBliss where a lot of other job searchers have written about their job interviews. Also search for articles and blog posts where there may be additional helpful information. For example, if you are interviewing at Amazon, look at the treasure trove of information yielded by a simple Google search: Amazon job interview.
Life coach and career advisor Chris Delaney says, “Recently I questioned confident vs. anxious interviewees how much time they spent researching, planning their interview, rehearsing questions, and practicing their responses. On average, the confident interviewees spent around nine hours over three to four days on these tasks; the anxious interviewees spent just 45 minutes.”
Before your job interview, practice your interview responses with a career coach, a savvy friend, or a recorder like the type you can find on most smart phones and most computers. If you practice your answers enough, you will feel more comfortable delivering them during the interview. It shouldn’t sound like you are reading from a script, though, so make sure you practice sounding conversational.
At minimum, be sure you can communicate why you want to work for the specific company, why you are a good fit for the particular role you are pursuing, and how this job fits into your overall career goals.
Lots of people have trouble sleeping well the night before any big event, so be sure to get good sleep two nights before your interview so that you don’t show up for your job interview exhausted from not sleeping well two nights in a row. If you are take something like Tylenol PM, take it two nights before your interview, not the night before your interview because a lot of people report it makes them feel sluggish and fuzzy the next day.
In the days before your job interview, try to avoid any people in your life who are habitually negative and undermining about your job search. (Maybe avoid these people most of the time, but that’s another blog topic).
Plan out where you are going to go for the interview and consider doing a practice drive there before the day of the job interview. Nothing is more stressful than getting lost on the way to an interview.
Arrive to the interview site about 30 minutes early but don’t go into the building until 10 minutes before. Interviewers don’t like it when someone sits in the waiting room for 30 minutes, so don’t be that person. If it stresses you out to sit in the car, walk around the block (unless you live in Houston or some other super humid area…you don’t want to be a sweaty with bad hair when you walk into the building).
To manage the physical symptoms of anxiety, try these public speaking tips from communications coach Robin Kermode.
Eat some protein an hour or so before you go into the interview. Also carry a protein bar in your briefcase or purse in case you have interviewers who schedule back-to-back interviews straight through lunch. You can always eat it during a short bathroom break if your blood sugar starts to drop during the day.
Ask the hiring manager or lead interviewer what the next steps are, but realize a recruiting process often fails to go as the interviewers planned and the reasons may have nothing to do about you. Don’t jump to negative conclusions every time something doesn’t happen in the promised timeframe. Plan to check in every two weeks but in a friendly, casual way, saying something like, “I’m checking in as I remain interested in this job and confident my skills are a good fit.”
Manage the anxiety of waiting to hear about a job interview by exploring other job opportunities. You never want to keep all your job search eggs in one basket because that puts too much pressure on that one job opportunity.
Anxiety is a highly treatable condition. If you find that anxiety is consistently lowering the quality of your life, consider getting treatment from a mental health professional who specializes in treating anxiety. Here is an article about anxiety from the American Psychological Association.
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