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Interview anxiety, a racing heart, sweaty palms and a brain that just won’t work – does it sound familiar? A fear of interviews is more common that you may think. Anyone can suffer from interview nerves, whatever your age, level of experience or gender and without help it can quickly escalate to become severe interview anxiety.  Even those who are normally confident and outgoing can experience some form of anxiety when a dream job is on the line.

It is natural to feel a little anxious when going into an interview. After all, you want to give your best account of yourself, and you know that you will be assessed and compared to others. For some people, this feeling of anxiousness eases once conversation begins to flow. However, for others, interview anxiousness develops into severe interview anxiety which can hold back careers and lives. After continually failing at interviews, some people can become too scared to go for a job interview.

Interview Anxiety Symptoms

  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Dry throat
  • Breaking or squeaky voice
  • Forgetfulness
  • Speaking too quickly
  • Skin rash

Severe Interview Anxiety Symptoms

  • Blank mind syndrome, brain-freeze during the interview
  • Panic attacks during the interview
  • Crying during the interview
  • Too scared to go for interviews
  • Cancelling or not turning up for interviews
  • Not applying for jobs

Reduce Interview Anxiety – 10 Tips

The good news is that it is possible to overcome interview fear, even severe interview anxiety and get you the job you deserve:

1. Know your value. Remind yourself what you would bring to the role. It is easy to lose sight of what makes you great. Spending a little time considering your strengths and experiences will boost confidence and help to settle any nerves. Sometimes it’s very valuable to have a professional interview coach work with you to help understand your strengths and the value you bring to the interview. Knowing how to articulate your story and how to promote yourself will build your confidence.

2. Be yourself. There is no need to put on an interview veneer. If you trust yourself to be yourself, you will feel more at ease and therefore more easily build rapport with the interviewer. This in turn will give you a better chance of being offered the job. Of course, you want to ensure that you present the best version of yourself, however, good employers increasingly value individuality.

3. Preparation is important. Prepare your examples. As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Good preparation will reduce anxiety because you will go into the interview knowing that you have done all you can. With the help of our interview coaches, use the job specification to gain an understanding of the behaviours and skills required and prepare examples to talk about.

4. Don’t over prepare. Do not attempt to rote learn examples or answers. Nervousness can stem from people attempting to recite their written answers word-for-word. This near-impossible task increases interview stress and can result in freezing up in the interview. It is impossible to predict exactly how the question will be asked. For example, ‘tell me your story?’ is a very different question to ‘tell me why you have applied for this role and the challenges it will bring?’.

5. Prepare flexibly. During preparation, do not write your examples or answers out in full sentences. Instead, use mind map techniques or bullet points and practice speaking about each experience in relation to different competencies or values. At Interview Skills Clinic we have a range of preparation templates we can share depending on whether you’re an analytical or a visual thinker.

6. Practice delivering your answers aloud. Exercising the vocal cords and hearing your own voice before an interview can lower anxiety and help you to be yourself. Talking around your key points in a conversational style will also make you more familiar with your examples and less reliant on your notes. People speak in a different tone and use different words compared to in written text.

7. Break the negative cycle of rejection. Consider seeking the help of a trained interview coach before you get into a cycle of rejection. At some stage, everyone will get rejected from an interview. However, this does not mean you are ‘rubbish’ at interviews or rules out your future success.  At Interview Skills Clinic we are experienced at helping identify the cause of interview anxiety and have a range of techniques to increase confidence. Some clients wait until they have failed 50 interviews before the seek help. In our experience it doesn’t take long for clients to get the success they want but the more severe the anxiety the longer it can take. We find that knowing that you have an advantage over other candidates can enormously reduce interview fear.

8. Do not expect perfection. Many high achievers suffer from additional stress due to their striving for perfection. Nobody is perfect. If you’re not happy with how you are answering a question, remember that you can start again. Interviews are a conversation, not an exam. Putting pressure on yourself to achieve total perfection is both unrealistic and unhelpful. The Hiring Manager will only employ you if they feel that they are meeting the real you.

9. Get a good night’s sleep. The importance of sleep cannot be overestimated. We all know that tiredness can make the smallest of tasks challenging. Knowing that you are well rested and in the best position to succeed will give you confidence going into the interview. Do not leave the small matters until the last minute. For example, decide on your outfit in advance, and plan your route to the office or test your webcam. Spending the final minutes rushing around dealing with mishaps will not put you in the best frame of mind.

10. Sometimes, it can help to tell the employer that you’re nervous. It is not something to feel ashamed of and is not a reflection of your ability to do the job. Interview anxiety is understandable when you want the job and know you are being assessed and most interviewers are very sensitive to this fact. They want you to relax and perform at your best so that they can choose the best candidate.

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