How To Overcome Interview Stress And Anxiety

Forbes – Jack Kelly, Senior Contributor

No matter your experience, interviewing can be a stress-inducing event.

One of the best ways to reduce interview stress is to conduct homework on the company, read over the job description several times, make sure you have the skills and experience relative to the requests of the job advertisement and practice role-playing the interview. If you lack a few of the requisites, think of ways to show that you can quickly learn the skills. The more you study the company, its people, management, online reputation, products and services and other factors, the more you feel comfortable and confident that you are in the right place at the right time.

Look for the interviewers on LinkedIn to understand who they are, where they went to school and the companies they previously worked for. Also, go on other social media sites, such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, to see if you can gain a feel for the people. Knowing their interests and backgrounds and having some common connections will help break the ice when the interview starts. For instance, if you found out that the hiring manager went to the same college as you, lives relatively close by or roots for the same sports teams, it will serve as a great way to engage in pre-interview small talk, fostering an immediate bond.

If you were one of the thousands of people laid off during the end of last year or the first month of 2023, be prepared for some culture shock. There will be intense competition, as a large number of white-collar tech, Wall Street and other industry professionals are in between roles. On the positive side, the Wall Street Journal reported most laid-off tech workers are finding new jobs shortly after beginning their search, according to a recent ZipRecruiter survey.

It’s Natural To Feel Uncomfortable

No matter your experience, interviewing can be a stress-inducing event. It’s unnatural to meet with a stranger and sell them on why you should get the job instead of the 20 other applicants. When you’re not currently working, your anxiety spikes. You worry about your finances and don’t want to be out of work for too long because it can look bad on your résumé.

If you utilize the services of a recruiter, pepper the headhunter to find out as much as possible about the company, its people, the corporate culture, compensation and any tidbits that could help in the interview.

Research the company and familiarize yourself with its products, services and mission statement. Discreetly ask trusted friends, colleagues and associates if they know anything about the company, the people you will be meeting with and how the job fits into the overall picture at the company. Go over your elevator pitch until you are entirely comfortable with it.

If the interview is in person, do a trial run to the interview site a day or two before the meeting to familiarize yourself with the time it takes to get there. If it’s a video call, make sure that your lighting, technology and background all work and look professional, as you’re being judged by the intangibles, in addition to your core competencies.

Before going on the video, play some music to get yourself pumped. Do a little dance, jog in place or exercise to get the blood flowing and elevate your mood. If that’s not your style, take deep breaths. Breathe into the count of four, hold for two beats, then release to the count of five. Do this a few times to settle down. Recite a mantra or affirmations, such as “I deserve this job. I will do well and get this job.” Avoid too much coffee or soda, as it can make you jittery. Also, avoid a heavy meal that could make you sluggish.

Once it’s go-time, smile, sit up straight and tall, put your shoulders back and hold your head high. Remember to look into the camera. Don’t fidget too much. Actively listen to the interviewer and be in the moment.

Lean into your elevator pitch. Practice answering a wide range of potential interview questions. Role-play the interview with someone who will be honest with their feedback. Have some bulleted prompts posted within your eyesight so you can look at them if you can’t think of what to say.

At The End Of The Interview

If it doesn’t work out at first, don’t worry. Interviewing is a numbers game. To succeed in getting a job offer, you need to go through a lot of interviews. The more interviews you have, the greater your chances of hitting it off with the hiring manager and other interviewers.

As you leave, say, “Thank you for inviting me to the interview. I greatly appreciated the conversation and your time. I look forward to continuing the conversation.” Make sure to add, “I believe that my experience, skills, background and education will enable me to help you and I will also be challenged. This sounds like a perfect situation for both of us. Please let me know if there is anything else I can share with you to help you with your decision. If you are inclined to make an offer, I’d be happy to accept.”