A job interview is a process that involves a potential employee and a potential employer having a discussion to see if there is compatibility, a match, and mutual interest. It’s not much different than courting or even a first date. If there is a connection, you know it and when there are differences, you know that too.
The interview usually involves meeting with a hiring manager and or panel who will ask a series of questions. The interview might also involve completing a skills test. Some employers request subsequent interviews before a final selection is made; while others do not. Nevertheless, most people complete the process and await the outcome. Others have a more difficult time adjusting.
Before the interview, they might experience a range of emotions and real physical symptoms such as stomach cramps, sweaty palms, and anxiety. The process becomes sheer torment that takes its toll mentally and physically.
Why do job interviews cause people to panic?
A pending job interview can cause a person to experience a variety of physical and mental symptoms. However, the question is why? Why do people freak out when having to be interviewed? There are a number of reasons but after doing a bit of research and thinking about my own past experiences, I’ve listed the top five.
1. Fear of exposure and lack of confidence.
Everyone experiences fear at some point in time and most people encounter situations where their confidence is tested. Most people who fear being interviewed are dealing with something deeper. An interview can be a very intimate dissecting of a person’s professional anatomy. People who are shy or introverted will feel the pressure even more. Suddenly they have all of this attention; they are at the center and must open up to totally strangers.
The questions can get personal because employers realize they are getting a whole person. For example, a person who has been unemployed due to a family issue might have to touch upon the gap in their employment history. A person who is dealing with confidence issues will feel a heightened sense of awareness of every little insecurity and inconsistency.
2. Lack of preparation
When you go to an interview without any type of preparation, you are leaving your fate to the wind. I realize that some interviews can occur on the spot; however, most people are given a window of opportunity to prepare. So, why don’t people properly prepare for their interview? Well, some people don’t know how. While others simply do not think it is important. They will go days and even a week before even thinking about the interview. Then the day before, they will print out copies of their resume, iron their clothes and call it day. Doing the prep work can be the difference between having a successful interview or realizing you are at the wrong building and your interview was an hour ago across town.
3. Exaggerated accomplishments or avoidance of questions
Some people feel anxious and even fearful because they have not been forthcoming on their employment application. They get to the interview and hear the distant chant of “liar, liar, pants on fire”. But why do people lie? I personally believe that people lie for a variety of reasons, and if it’s the job of their dreams, they might feel that they cannot afford to let this chance slip away. People lie because they feel the employer simply won’t understand their circumstances. These days, job applications are usually straightforward. They simply want to know, do you or don’t you have to do the job. What positions have you held? Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
If you did not, you cannot claim it. We might call it exaggerating, but it’s basically lying when you claim to have held a job or accomplished a task when you did not do it. There is nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward. But please do not lie. With technology, background checks, and so many resources, your employer can find out the truth. Remember, people have been hired and then fired because of lying on a job application or during an interview.
4. Unrealistic expectations
Unrealistic expectations can cause a person to become anxious. A person’s expectations consist of the ideas and views that create a perceived outcome. Having a realistic view your situation, the job, your experience and your objectives can help alleviate many concerns and give you a proper perspective. For example, you are interviewing for an Executive Assistant with a salary scale between $55,000 and $70,000. You are expecting to be offered something in the middle. You are offered $57,000 based on your three years of experience. Keeping realistic expectations are necessary when entering an interview before, during, and after.
5. Not really committed to the job
Everybody needs a job. However, finding the job that you love is harder said than done. If you interview and you are not really committed to doing your best or perhaps not really interested, it will show during the interview. Managers want employees who will bring not only their skills but enthusiastic attitude to the environment. Employers want your commitment. They want you to want to be a part of their company.
Let’s face it, no one likes being scrutinized and judged; however, this is a part of a job interview. The interviewer(s) must select the candidate they believe is the right fit. Each interviewer has a different set of criteria, so there is no 100% guarantee of the outcome. Even when you think you did your worse, you can get hired because the intervener saw something they such as that infectious smile or that can do attitude. Interviews go beyond what is written in your CV or resume. Interviews even go beyond interviews.
Here are some further tips to help you ease the anxiety, focus and develop a winning attitude that will last long after the interview is over.
Tips for finding success before, during, and after the interview
1. Come prepared. Have the latest version of your resume or CV. Bring copies, if possible and give yourself enough time to review your information. You might want to ask a friend or relative to help review the information with you and then ask you some questions.
2. Dress for success. Dress as professional as possible. Put yourself in your potential employers’ shoes, would you want you to represent the company? Like your mother always told you, mind your manners. It does not matter what environment you could be working in a first impression can go a long way.
3. Check your personal hygiene. When you are nervous, you perspire more. Brush your teeth, carry mints or gum but do not use excessive perfume or cologne. Comb your hair. If you have long braids or long hair, consider putting your hair up or tied back so your employers can see your beautiful/handsome face.
4. If you get nervous and dry mouth, consider carrying a bottle of water. Take a sip while you wait and then right before the interview.
5. If you find yourself sitting with other candidates, do not be alarmed. Stay focused on you. Do not worry about how they look, what they are wearing or what they might say. Do not, I repeat, don’t you dare compare yourself to someone else. If you engage in a friendly conversation, keep it light. Remember, it is okay to focus on yourself and not engage in a lengthy conversation with other candidates.
6. Be honest about your experience and job duties. Do not exaggerate about what you can or cannot do. If you have been convicted of a crime, your interview is the perfect chance for your to elaborate on the circumstances. Be honest about your past jobs and your roles. Remember, people have been fired from a job because of a lying. You do not want to ruin your reputation or future chances with the company.
7. Remember, panelists are people too. Chances are your hiring manager or panelists have sat where you are sitting. Remember, you were chosen to be here. You got the call so you must be doing something right.
8. Keep your mind focus on the positive things that you have to offer. Think of at least two or three positive things about yourself. If you cannot think of any, remember, you are a hard worker and you want a chance to do something you love. You are not like everyone else and have something unique to share with the company. You have earned the right to be here, you belong in the interview and you have nothing more to prove.
9. Please, don’t put much into facial expressions. People make faces all the time. You don’t know what is going on with each panelist. They could be having a horrible day, gas, and hunger pains. People put on poker faces to hide many different things and they are not always negative.
10. Give yourself some credit; remember you are also conducting and interview. These are the people you could be working with. When given a chance to ask questions, pick someone and ask why they choose their career or to work at the company.
11. Take a deep breathe before you respond to each question. Do not rush or force an answer. Listen thoroughly and respond carefully. Take notes and do not be afraid to ask that the question be repeated or elaborated upon.
12. Be yourself. If you had an English accent when you arrived, please have it when you leave. Seriously, be honest, be fair, and be professional.
13. Say thank you. Remember to always thank the panelist or interviewer for this time and the opportunity.
14. If you didn’t get the job. Let’s do it again. Practice, practice, practice. Apply for another, take notes of what worked during your last interview and where you could be stronger. If you can record yourself while a friend or family member does a mock interview, that can you review your tone, body language, and responses.
15. Building confidence. Confidence is one of those things that can be developed. As long as you do your homework, you are more than good enough and deserve to be where you want to be. Remember employers can pick up on how you feel about yourself even when you think you are hiding your feelings.
Finally, did you know that no one can control how you feel and what you do? You are not the first person to get nervous, make a mistake, or question your choices. But you are the only person who can take control and choose to develop peace of mind before, during, and after the interview.
I would love to hear about your job interview and if the suggested list was helpful. If you have something to share, please post your comments.