Even people who don’t usually experience anxiety may want to understand how to overcome interview anxiety. Interviewing causes stress to most people, and for some this can become anxiety. And it makes sense. Unless you interview regularly to keep your interviewing skills up, you probably only interview every few years. Which means every interview will take you out of your comfort zone, in a major way. In this article I share with you my best hacks to overcome interview anxiety once and for all.
Remember the audience is friendly
These were the words that the CEO told me before I went up on stage to present to the entire legal function of my company (there were about 200 people in the audience that day…), after I asked him how to be as natural as him on stage. He answered “This is a friendly audience. They want you to do well.”
This was great advice, so I feel compelled to share it with you today because it is exactly the same thing in an interview. The people interviewing you want you to do well. They need to hire someone and usually they want to hire quickly. These people have spent hours reading through CVs and the only reason they called you for an interview is that they thought your CV was good enough to meet you.
The interviewers are busy poeple and they start the interview with the hope that you are the person they are looking for. If you are here it is because you deserve to be.
The best way to overcome interview anxiety is to be prepared
Now that we have cleared that up, it is time to prepare for the interview. Interviews are like exams. You never know what the questions will be, but the more you prepare, the more chances you have to do well. This will help calm your anxiety. Preparing in depth will make you feel more confident and should bring you a sense of calm.
There are tones of books on interview prep. My favourite is Job Interviews: Top Answers to Tough Questions by John Lees.
My technique is simple:
- Research the company
- Be 100% clear on the role
- Prepare and write down answers to specific questions (I personally do this for all 225 questions given in the book above mentioned)
- Prepare a list of questions for me to ask in the interview
And yes, this does take hours, so you want to block out some time in your diary to do this.
I also do a lot of practical preparation a few days before, such as:
- Work out what I am going to wear
- Plan the journey and leave loads of time for the unexpected
- Plan where I will go to wait if I arrive too early to go straight there (this often happens as a natural consequence of the previous bullet point) – I tend to look up cafés in the area so I can go there without wasting time
- Plan a relaxing evening the night before and go to bed early, so that I can be as rested as possible
Mentally rehearse the interview will help you overcome interview anxiety
This is the same technique I mentioned in How To Prepare For Your First Day At Work. Once you have done the interview prep, get yourself in a quiet space, take a few deep breaths and close your eyes.
Imagine it is the day of the interview. See yourself waking up, getting up, and getting ready for the interview. Go through this in details. What are you having for breakfast? Are you reading your prep notes again to make sure everything is fresh in your mind? Are you going to practice gratitude, meditate or exercise?
Then imagine that you are going to the interview. Imagine the journey without any issue. See yourself arriving at reception, asking for your contact, and being let in the interview room. Imagine the entirety of the interview going well. Do not leave anything out. Then imagine the end of the interview, the journey home and relaxing.
Do this every time you start feeling anxious about the interview. It should help bring you a sense of calm before the big day.
Ideally you want to practice breathing exercises every day, once or twice a day. Exercises like the one I show you in this video can really help you manage your anxiety but you need to stay consistent with it for this to work. (Yes I know the video below is called ‘How To Bring Yourself Back To Calm When You Feel Stressed At Work’ but it works just the same for interviews 😉)
4 Essential hacks to overcome interview anxiety – key take aways
- Remember the people interviewing you want you to do well
Try these simple hacks and let me know how you get on
How do you overcome interview anxiety? What has worked well for you? I’d love to hear your stories. Let me know in the comments.
Job Interviews: Top Answers to Tough Questions by John Lees
This article is part of the series Happier At Work, which you can find here.
And remember, happiness is a choice, and you are in charge!