Are you wanting – or even looking for – a new job, but finding that your efforts are being hampered by interview anxiety?
Perhaps you would like to return to the workforce after a period or absence (eg caring for children, or after an injury). Or maybe it’s just time for a change.
Interview anxiety can prevent you from taking the next step in your career. It can also cause you to stay in a job that you are not happy with, further dwindling your self-esteem and in some cases even leading to depression.
The Keys to Overcoming Interview Anxiety
The key factors to consider when facing job interviews are the three “P’s”:
Most job interviews are now behaviourally based. The premise behind this interview technique, is that how you will behave in the future is a direct reflection of how you behaved in the past.
Behavioural interview questions will be more pointed, more probing and more specific than traditional interview questions. You can expect questions such as:
- Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.
- Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?
- What do you do when your schedule is interrupted? Give an example of how you handle it.
- Have you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren’t thrilled about? How did you do it?
- Have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker? How?
- Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
Ensure you are familiar with the job description, if you have it, or the job ad. From these you should be able to get a sense of what skills and behavioural characteristics the employer is seeking.
Try and think of a few case examples from your working past where you have performed well, or dealt well with special situations, so that you can use those to answer some of the questions outlined above. Prepare stories that illustrate times when you have successfully solved problems or performed memorably.
Research the company if at all possible, although often recruitment companies will not tell you who the vacancy is with until you have met with them first.
If you have been out of the workforce for a while or otherwise “away” from your career, be prepared to answer direct questions about your absence. Remember, that if you stumble and struggle to answer questions, it will draw attention and it is likely to add unnecessary “weight” to the situation.
Ask a friend to ask you interview-type questions, then give feedback on your answers – or record yourself.
Listen carefully to the questions, be clear and detailed when you respond and, most importantly, be honest.
Practising is the best way to ensure your answers flow logically and confidently. Remember that everyone experiences some anxiety during interviews. Being able to manage this anxiety ensures you are able to get across to the Interviewer enough information about your skills and fit for the role, as well as demonstrating that you are able to handle yourself under pressure.
Finally, don’t be put off if you don’t get the first job you interview for. There are a lot of factors that affect whether or not you get the role, that have absolutely nothing to do with you eg the competency of the Recruitment Consultant, or whether or not the role has already been unofficially filled internally but they have to advertise and go through the motions … etc.
A Psychologist can help you to learn strategies to assist with managing anxiety during interviews. I have worked with many individuals returning to the workforce, and can help you to gain confidence in handling difficult questions regarding any absence from the workforce, and explaining your reasons and readiness to return.
Author: Nicole Wimmer, B Sc (Psych), MA (Psych), PG Cert Mgmt, Grad Dip Safety Science, MAPS.
Nicole Wimmer is a Psychologist with extensive experience in helping people in their careers, as well as to overcome problems with anxiety. While addressing current presenting issues with clients, Nicole also focuses on developing skills in the client to better equip them to deal with future challenges as they arise.