Palms sweat, heart races, voice shakes, negative thoughts swirl, it’s hard to breathe. Sound familiar? You’re not the only one! These are just some of the many symptoms people experience before and during a job interview.
The phenomenon of interview anxiety afflicts even the most successful and naturally confident, and sometimes it feels that there’s no fix or trick.
“Being anxious going into an interview is completely normal,” explains Charlotte Bull, psychologist at Psychology Melbourne.
“Job interviews can be extremely anxiety inducing. This can be for a range of reasons – being the focus of so much attention, being questioned about your performance, and the knowledge that making mistakes could be costly.”
“A bit of anxiety can actually be helpful, because it can motivate us and improve performance. The problem arises when that anxiety becomes extreme and actually impacts on how you present during an interview.”
Katie Roberts, director of Katie Roberts Career Consulting, an organisation that provides interview coaching to individuals across Australia, offers some easily implemented solutions for reducing anxiety at job interviews:
- Interview preparation is the key to reducing anxiety. Learn as much as you can about the company, brainstorm potential interview questions, identify your past achievements and how they are relevant to the role and practise answering questions out loud or in a mock interview with a parent or friend.
- Visualise your success at the interview. Imagine yourself walking into the interview room, shaking hands with the interviewers and answering their questions with confidence. Visualise them calling you up to offer you a position after the interview.
- Change your mind-set about the interview. Remember it’s not just about them interviewing you. It’s also an opportunity for you to find out if they are the right organisation for you. Does the workplace culture align to your values? Is diversity endorsed throughout the business? Does the offered salary match what you believe your skills and experience are worth?
- Dress for success. Wearing clothes that look and feel great will help you to feel more confident at the interview. Remember, first impressions count! Read our article, What to wear to an interview, really for more tips.
- Put the interview into perspective and don’t lose sight of the big picture. Remember it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get offered the role. There will be other opportunities. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?”
- Plan ahead. Look up the map location of the interview and plan how you are going to get there, how long it will take, where you will park if you are driving, etc. Arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes early so you have time to familiarise yourself with the environment and mentally prepare yourself.
Bull also advises interviewees to tap into the physical symptoms. “Try to slow your breathing, and focus on the breath at one point in your body as it enters and exits. You might notice that focusing on the breath reduces the intensity of your thoughts.”
Finally, remember, there is no single, perfect fix to job interview nerves. Use whatever tactics or tricks work best for you! A little anxiety can be healthy, anyway, indicating you care about the outcome, and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to show prospective employers how and why you’re perfect for the job.