Anxiety before Interviews

Anxiety is not new to us. Remember the first time you climbed the stage to perform at your school’s fancy dress competition or a recital. The heavy lump you felt in your belly, making you sick and sweat. Anxiety before the interview is exactly the same thing.

Anxiety occurs when you know you have to give your best shot, often referred to as performance anxiety. When you have an important decision to take which is going to affect your life. When you have an interview which is going to get you closer to your dream, you tend to feel anxious, because you want to make no mistakes which will ruin your chances.

Anxiety is an emotion. You’re bound to feel anxious, when you have an action plan but don’t know how to execute it. When you know you have to do certain things, but are not able to do the same as worry creeps in. What does one really worry about before an interview- his/her inability to answer an asked question, feeling awkward or conscious while being scrutinized by the interviewers from content to fluency to body language, one’s unpreparedness or cognizance, fear of committing mistakes from past interviews, when it’s your dream job and don’t want to mess things up, when you have inadequate or vague information about the job description (responsibilities), when you feel under-qualified for the job specifications (KSAs) the post demands?

Stand in the waiting area, you will see a number of candidates reading current affairs or going through the answers they have prepared for specific questions or asking others questions to clear their own doubts. Yes, your fellow interviewees are feeling anxious, too. Anxiety is common and exists in every human being. Only the level of anxiety and the way to manage/hide it differs from person to person.

In fact being anxious is a good sign. It reflects that you are aware of yourself and in control of your actions. It also shows that you are looking forward to something and don’t want things which are out of your control, to get in the way.  Though little anxiety is always good to keep things in control, but higher level of anxiety may lead to nervous breakdown, shaking one’s confidence, forgetting the little things which do matter a lot, such as greeting the interviewers or shaking hands or even forgetting to smile. I may say that anxiety is good but do not show it to your interviewers. They may take it as the sign of unpreparedness or even low level of confidence.Your interviewers will not take time to gauge if you are nervous as the symptoms are obvious such as feeling nausea, fumbling during hand-shake or handing over documents or talking, sweating, choking (or losing your voice while answering), answering in a low voice (will show disinterest towards the particular job or lack of confidence), taking a lot of time to think on a question, freezing (not able to think on the questions asked), forgetting important documents, not able to sit stable, fidgeting or not looking at the interviewers while answering their questions.

Avoid the above to beat the interview blues. But at the same time, it is also the interviewer’s first responsibility to make the candidate comfortable. When the interviewer begins the interview asking you about your hobbies/interests, your journey to the venue and questions which are not related to the job, s/he is trying to make you comfortable. What’s in for the interviewers? Talking about interests/ hobbies helps in finding whether the candidate is a good fit. So my advice is that you should answer their questions with complete honesty.

It is not possible to eliminate anxiety completely, thus, you should focus on minimising it. To overcome and manage anxiety, I suggest the following-

  1. Be Prepared- Practice interview sessions with your peer or family members or a person who has conducted interviews before. Handover company description, industry background and the job profile you have applied for. Also, provide them with questions you are preparing for. Ask them your areas of improvements to work on and any other questions which may be asked. Also it is important to ask them if you make any common mistakes which appear while answering the questions and tell them to observe your body language. Ask for their suggestions. Take this practice very seriously.
  2. Practice commonly asked questions-Interviewers have common questions in place, such as tell me about yourself, what are your hobbies/ interests, what is your dream job, where do you want to be ten years down the line and many others. List down the most common questions and try answering them in 200 words. Practice them well but do not memorize the answers. If you memorize them and happen to forget a line in between, you will try and remember the answer in front of the interviewer which will create a bad impression.
  3. Back answers with your  experience and how it will fit the desired job description-The common questions asked by employers in this context are what major challenges and problems you faced, how did you handle them, tell us a situation where you had to show your leadership qualities, which is your biggest achievement so far. Remember to back every answer with an instance from your previous job, the situation you faced, how did you handle it, how has it helped. Also, try to link the same with the job profile you are applying for and how will it help in the future.
  4. Understanding that unexpected questions will also pop up-If the interviewers happen to ask questions which are not prepared by you, try not to act very surprised. If you are not able to think on the same lines, ask for a few seconds without hesitating and think upon the same and then reply calmly. Do not take a very long time to reply. If you feel you do not know how to answer the question, tell them you don’t know, but do not do it for every question.
  5. Understand what the job asks- Make sure you have complete idea of the job, its responsibilities and KSAs required. Connect to the people who are working at the same position and ask about their work. Questions asked related to the job must be answered properly.
  6. Research about the company- Many a times, interviewers asks questions related to their companies and the latest news surrounding them. You should be able to handle such questions as it shows your level of interest in working for the company.
  7. Know your resume- It is crucial that all the things mentioned in the resume are true. The most likely resume based questions to be asked are- run me through your interview, your hobbies/interests, what were the roles for the post you held.
  8. Keeping Asked and Required Documents in place- You should make it a point to gather the asked documents as soon as you receive the call letter. Arrange the documents, so when asked for a particular document you are able to hand it over without a minute’s delay.
  9. A good nap- Have a goodnight’s sleep so you will wake up fresh for your interview. Do not avoid breakfast. Avoiding sleep and food leads to insomnia and nausea, respectively.
  10. Wear comfortable clothes- Dress formally but choose clothes and shoes in which you will be comfortable. If you are uneasy wearing a tie, then carry one with you and wear it if the other candidates wear it too. Avoid dark colours which will make you sweat.
  11. Reaching venue before time- Start from your place early to avoid reaching late due to traffic or difficulty in finding the venue or any such reasons. Reach before the stipulated time to look around and relax yourself.
  12. Waiting time- The Waiting time is more stressful. Utilise this time to interact with other candidates, to loosen up and relax!Ask them where they worked before, what are their qualifications. Asking the ones’ interviewed before you the questions that interviewers asked, it will help you to understand what the interviewers are looking for.
  13. Be Honest- During the interview do not answer any question with incomplete information. Get your facts and figures right. Your resume should not contain anything which is alien to you.

Think Positive, be Confident, be Yourself!

Article by Divyanka Gangurde

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