Research shows that applicants who experience anxiety during a job interview are less likely to be hired. Job interview anxiety, which is being nervous during an interview, is common among job applicants. As a result, many dread the interview and have negative thoughts about their performance beforehand.
Anxiety during the interview can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including stuttering, using filler words, socially inappropriate behaviour, or other nervous tics. This can make the interviewee appear less confident than they actually are and make it harder for them to sell themselves to the interviewer.
However, the interview remains one of the most popular assessment methods used by companies to make selection decisions, so it pays to know how to calm your nerves before an interview.
Let’s now look at some ways you can do this.
Consider your thinking patterns
We all have thoughts running through our heads that we can’t control. In an interview, these intrusive thoughts (Hello imposter syndrome!) can sabotage you. It’s important to challenge negative thoughts. Just because you feel something, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true. Try to refute your bleak thoughts with logic. If you adjust your thinking, you may be able to change your mind – a step in the right direction to calm pre-interview nerves.
One unhelpful thinking pattern that psychologists have identified is “emotional reasoning”. You say to yourself, “I’m nervous because I did so poorly in my last interview. I know I messed up. I’m a failure.”
It’s essential to think critically and objectively instead of basing your judgments on feelings. Emotions can be misleading, so it’s important to consider other explanations for the way you feel. Try to separate the objective from the subjective.
Another trigger for anxiety is “mind reading”. Mind reading can be a harmful habit when you assume what other people think and feel about you without considering other possibilities. This can lead you to project your own feelings onto the situation. For example, you tell yourself that they’ve already found a better candidate than you, and you don’t stand a chance. True? Not likely.
Breathe your way through it
If you’re feeling anxious before an interview, you can calm yourself down by focusing on your breathing. Inhale to the count of four, hold your breath for two seconds, and then exhale to the count of four. Repeat this pattern for a minute or two. As you breathe, focus on these words: serenity, power, compassion, and tolerance. Repeat this mantra to yourself, trying not to be self-critical. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to a good friend.
Focus on others
When you’re anxious, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by your own thoughts and worries. Try to focus on others and be understanding and compassionate. When you arrive for your interview, take a moment to chat with the receptionist and ask how their day is going. During the interview itself, pay attention when the person you’re talking to speaks and try to remember their name. Smile and be friendly – engagement goes a long way towards making a good impression.
Strike the pose of a superhero
You feel more confident and in control when you strike a strong pose. Stand tall, put your hands on your hips, and extend your elbows as if you’re the ruler of everything you oversee. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you’re in control of this moment. Just be careful where you strike this pose because it can come across as aggressive or arrogant.
Do your homework
You can’t control what questions you’ll be asked in an interview or what the interviewer will be looking for, but you can control how prepared you are. Use your anxiety as motivation to research and practise your responses to common interview questions. The more you know about the company and the job you’re applying for, the better you’ll perform.
How interview training can help beat anxiety
Improving your interview skills is an excellent way to banish those butterflies in your stomach. If you want to ace your upcoming interview, it’s a good idea to have a mock interview or go through job application training beforehand. This will give you a feel for how the real interview will go and allow you to practice responding to questions under pressure.
An applicant’s ability to make a strong impression during an interview is often key to a successful outcome. Knowing how you come across to others and presenting yourself in a positive light can make all the difference in getting the job. This includes disarming strategies to build rapport, self-promotion tactics that highlight your strengths, and nonverbal communication that conveys confidence.
All of these skills are trainable, and we know what works. Research has provided insight into what contributes to a positive impression in an interview. Answering questions fully, asking for more information or clarification on a question asked, and how long you take to answer questions will all give you an advantage. Rambling, talking too much about yourself, making contradictory statements, using slang, and giggling at the end of every statement will contribute to you not making the shortlist.
Your level of anxiety is the most critical factor determining how well you will perform in an interview. In one study, researchers found that participants with low communication anxiety maximised their time in the interview by talking more and using good nonverbal skills, while those with high anxiety spoke less and made little eye contact.
Interestingly, when preparing for the interview, participants with low anxiety spent time rehearsing interview scenarios and talking about the interview with others. In contrast, those with high anxiety spent much of their preparation time thinking about how poorly they might perform in the interview.
If you’re anxious about an upcoming interview, don’t worry – it’s normal to be a little nervous. However, if your anxiety is severe or keeps you from moving forward in your job search, it’s time to seek professional help.
Interview Training Can Conquer Anxiety – Find Out How!
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