This post is all about job interview anxiety.
So, you’ve applied for the job and gotten an interview. That’s enough to celebrate right there because, nowadays, it’s hard to get recognize in the huge, virtual stack of resumes and cover letters.
That also means that you’re stressing out even more about the interview because you may not have many lined up with the way job searches are going. Interviews are already nerve-wracking because you a small amount of time to prove that you’re the best person for the position.
Or, at least, that’s how it feels. But, the truth is that interviews are mutual: you can use them as a chance to decide if this job is right for you and to practice for future interviews.
Use this list of tips to make sure that you walk in and out of that interview feeling fulfilled regardless of the outcome.
This post is all about job interview anxiety.
BEST JOB INTERVIEW
1. Prepare thoroughly for the interview by researching the company.
When you go into an interview, you want to know the company as well as the person interviewing you does. Not only does this help you decide if this is the place you want to work, but it makes you an even better candidate for the position.
Research the mission of the company, the pay for your position, employee satisfaction, and any other information that help you make an informed decision about this company.
Remember that interviews are as much for the company to decide if you’re right for them as they are if the company is right for you. So, hold your head high because you’re prepared for this job no matter what your job interview anxiety tells you.
2. Practice common interview questions.
Upon a quick Google search, you’ll find plenty of interview questions to practice with. There are so many resources out there that it’s overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be.
In fact, there’s a specific formula you can follow with a few boilerplate answers that will prepare for the vast majority of questions you’ll be asked. You’ll likely be asked some version of 1) what is your biggest weakness? and 2) what is your biggest strength?
From there, you’ll be asked more specific questions about the position you’ll have and the type of scenarios you’ll be dealing with. So, prepare a few scenarios that demonstrate your abilities to overcome significant issues in the workplace.
3. Plan to arrive early to the interview.
Managing anxiety can, sometimes, just be about managing extenuating factors. So, while we can’t stop our anxiety from happening, we can at least minimize the amount of things that gives us anxiety.
Timeliness is one: plan to arrive early to your interview. This way you have time to sit and breathe without getting high blood pressure over whether you’ll make it in time.
One recommendation with this approach: avoid practicing at the location because your brain will not be in the right place to do any last-minute preparation for your interview. You’ll likely stress yourself out more when you could be using the time to collect yourself.
4. Dress appropriately and comfortably for the interview.
There’s nothing like a good power outfit to get you going. You can wear a blazer, go all out with a pair of slacks, or wear a nice pair of jeans with a blouse. The important part is that you feel great and look equal to or better than the people who are interviewing you.
But, no matter what, stay comfortable. Choose clothing that makes you feel good mentally and physically. Anything that rubs you the wrong way or makes you feel self-conscious should stay in the closet today (or maybe go in the giveaway bin).
5. Get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview.
Get in bed early and maybe take a melatonin if you suspect you’ll be too stressed to sleep well. Then, enjoy your night’s rest so, when you wake up the next morning, you’ll be ready to crush the day.
If your job interview anxiety is off the charts, you can try a few exercises to get your body to calm down. You can do some deep breathing and grounding exercises as well as progressive muscle relaxation.
6. Eat a healthy breakfast.
Start your day off right with food that will fuel your body. This way, you will have your job interview anxiety under control, since you’ll be giving your body what it needs to function at its best.
Plus, you’ll be sending your body the message to wake up and be alert. So, find a breakfast that makes your body feel good while also feeling full until lunch time.
7. Use positive self-talk to challenge negative thoughts.
Challenge negative thoughts as they pop up. When you think you’ll fail, remind yourself that you’ve prepared adequately. When you think you’ll forget all of your answers, remember that these answers are a part of you because you lived them.
Keep your strengths in mind and remember that you are likely way more qualified for this position than you think. The most important part about handling your job interview anxiety is separating yourself from the thoughts your anxiety makes you think.
8. Visualize yourself performing well during the interview.
Imagine the exact questions you’ll be asked and the confidence with which you’ll answer those questions. While you may not know who’s interviewing you, you can visualize yourself succeeding no matter what questions are asked.
Honestly, you’ll be asked a question you didn’t practice. And you’re going to crush it because you are prepared with your experiences and confidence. So, visualize the confidence you want to have during the interview and remind yourself of that confidence during your interview.
9. Bring a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
Once you’ve researched the company, you’ll have questions about it. Maybe you’ll wonder about your position or something related to your company. These are great opportunities for you to ask questions, impress your interviewer, and make sure this is the place for you.
You’ll want to read up on the company website and anything information they created for public eyes. That way your questions will be well-informed and you’ll show your diligence in researching prior to the interview.
You can also ask the interview questions about themselves and their job. Think about how they got into their position, how they like their job, and other questions like that.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
If you’re confused, remember your interviewer is human. Anyone who gets upset with you when you ask for clarification probably represents a company you don’t want to work for in the first place.
So, ask them to repeat or clarify their question when it helps. This can also be useful when you’re trying to think of an answer and would like more time (use it sparingly when you do).
11. Use examples from your previous experiences.
Think of two or three experiences in your life that you can bring up during the interview. These moments should represent significant triumphs, both issues you’ve overcome and all-out strengths you’ve proven to have.
Along with each of these experiences, be sure to dissect them so that you can explain how they prove your strengths, weaknesses, and resilience.
12. Focus on your body language.
Sit up, lengthen your body, and roll your shoulders back. Stay comfortable without letting your body become lax. This doesn’t mean you should be stiff and tense throughout your interview.
Instead, use this as reminder to stay confidence with your posture, while staying loose and comfortable. This as much about the way you look as it is about the way your posture affects your mind: the more your body opens up, the more your job interview anxiety can subside.
13. Avoid visible fidgeting or other nervous habits.
When neurotypicals talk about confidence, it feels unfair to neurodivergents. Confidence doesn’t have to be complete stillness and quiet minds because, if that’s how we define confidence, it leaves a lot of people out.
Instead, let’s define confidence as owning yourself and portraying only what you want to. This can mean fidgeting under the table with some device that the interview won’t notice. It can be shaking your length under the desk or tapping your chair.
14. Use humor appropriately to help build rapport with the interviewer.
Part of going in for an interview making conversation. Clearly, there’s a purpose behind the conversation and you don’t want to make any assumptions about the interview. Different people have different types of humor, so it may not be good to go in with your humor.
Feel out the conversation and the dynamic between you and your interviewer. When you feel the moment for it, make a job. Humor has the power to bring people together. Unfortunately, that’s only when it’s used well and sparingly. So, choose the right time to connect.
15. Don’t be afraid to take a moment to gather your thoughts.
There’s nothing wrong with taking your time to answer a question. When you ask Google or others about this, you’ll probably hear that you need to have every answer ready immediately. Or you should avoid filler words like “um.”
But, that advice doesn’t account for the fact that both you and your interviewer are human. Not only will they appreciate you taking a moment to think of a solid answer, but they’ll completely understand. If they don’t, maybe that’s an indication this isn’t the job for you.
16. Bring copies of your resume.
While your interview will probably come prepared with the materials you submitted with your job application, it’s a good idea to bring an annotated and plain copy of your resume. On the off chance they didn’t bring it and they want a copy, you’ll have it.
If they don’t need it, no biggy. Plus, you’ll have a copy for yourself for some easy access answers. If you’re nervous that your interviewer will see the page, don’t bring it (not that they’d fault you for coming prepared).
17. Follow up with the interviewer after the interview.
After every interview, send an email to the person who interviewed and conclude their experience with you on a good note. Tell them you appreciated them taking the time to talk with you and mention what you’re excited about.
This is your chance to tell them what you plan to do. Something like, “I can’t wait to hear from you, so I can start growing the company following on Instagram with a new social media strategy.”
You can a little specific, but don’t get too jargony. You don’t need to say much to be convincing.
18. Remember that the interviewer wants to find the right candidate.
Interviews are two-sided. You may need a job and can’t afford to be picky—totally understandable, but this is still worth thinking about.
The interviewer wants to find the best person for the job and you want find the right job. You both have different interests that may or may not overlap. So, you can’t count on them having your best interests in mind.
What you can do is put yourself out there then consider it after the fact to decide whether you felt valued and heard or discounted. If you’re shopping around for the right job, listen to your gut.
19. Be honest and authentic in your responses.
Be real. Uncertainty is okay, and it can bring you closer to your interviewer. Admit when you’re not sure about an answer but give it your all. If you give them the truth, then you know you did your best and you put your best, most authentic self out there.
Whether or not you get the job (and this likely will only help you), you’ll know that you went into the interview with your best foot forward as the real you. Let your interviewer get to know you because they’ll remember the person who connected with them as a person.
20. Focus on the positive aspects of the interview.
After the interview, you will pick it apart and stress out about it. You’ll find all the ways you believe you messed up and your anxiety will tear you apart for it.
As natural as this is for a person with anxiety, challenge yourself to think about the positive aspects for every negative thought you have. Remember the moments that left you feeling good and be proud of yourself for doing something terrifying.
21. Practice good self-care.
Watch a movie, play a show, or dance to some music. Before the interview and after, you’ll want to decompress. When you think of how your body responds to a stressful event, it’s probably similar to an upcoming test.
You’re studying for it by practicing your answers ahead of time and coming up with experience to mention on the spot. So, the night before, you’ll probably want to take it easy and rely on your previous studying.
After, when you’ll try to stay positive about the interview, you’ll deserve some self-care. Take the time to slow down and treat yourself.
22. Remember that rejection is a normal part of the job search process.
No matter what happens, you went into the interview doing your best. Whether you get the job or not, you can rest easy with that information.
If you don’t get the job, it’s normal to feel horrible about it. But, the important part about rejection is realizing it’s a normal step in the process of growing. Getting a job out of college or transitioning from one job to another, you’re doing it. You’re growing and achieving.
Rejection hurts, but getting rejected is also a sign that you’re winning at life. So, keep winning and keep bouncing back because you’re worthy with or without that job.
23. Try to recognize there are other opportunities out there.
Say you don’t get the job. It’s not the end. You already know you’re on the right path if you’re exploring new opportunities, so you’re more than capable of finding a new one.
No job is worth you feeling bad about yourself and devaluing who you are. There’s another opportunity around the corner whenever you’re ready for it.
Take the time you need to believe it because it’s true. You deserve the time to move on from rejection as much as you deserve to move onto the next best thing.
24. Learn from this interview to improve for future interviews.
Every interview is a chance practice your skills. Interviewing is a skill, and people don’t talk about that enough. When you get anxious about small talk or talking to new people, interviews are pretty much the worst thing.
That’s why you can think of every interview as a chance to learn, no matter how it turns out. Don’t discount a job as soon as you interview, but remember that every interview prepares you more than the last one did.