How To Banish Your Anxiety During Job Interviews

As a psychotherapist and executive coach, I’m in the unique position to help clients develop smart strategies for winning job interviews and overcoming whatever's holding them back. Whether you’re at the top of your career vying for a new executive position or a recent college graduate looking to land your first job, you're likely familiar with interview anxiety. Now, perhaps more than ever, in a climate of such job scarcity, it’s so important to approach each interview with optimal confidence and a great game plan. To that end, here are my tips for landing that next gig.

Change The Way You Think About Interviews

Many candidates get worked up to the point that they feel like they’re prepping for major surgery or headed to court. Instead of seeing an interview in such a daunting and negative light, regard it as merely a Q&A opportunity: one in which the prospective employer learns about you and you learn about them. By seeing it as a getting-to-know-you conversation, you’ll eliminate the stress you might bring upon yourself while prepping.


Keep Negative Thinking In Check

Know that self-doubt and fear will render you helpless, while a strong belief in who you are can lead to success. So, if you find yourself going down a negativity spiral, reframe it. For example, thinking I’ll never get this job serves no purpose whatsoever and should be replaced with They called me for the interview so they’re impressed by my experience. I’m going to do my best to bring that background to life for them.

QuestionsAtInterview_slide02ILLUSTRATED BY SYDNEY HASS.

Embrace Your Nerves

That’s right, nerves can be good. At a physiological level, there’s not a big difference between nerves and excitement. In both cases, the heart rate and breathing increase in order to get blood and oxygen to different parts of the body, so that it can perform either in the face of danger or excitement. Don't forget that an interview is clearly an example of the latter. And, why wouldn't you be excited?

Use Imagery Before The Interview

Close your eyes, relax, and see yourself entering the interview and responding to questions with confidence. Really feel it. Visualize the positive outcome you're hoping for as a way to try and make it actually happen. Seeing something, even in your mind, helps you believe in it. Bring this mindset to the interview.

Provide Real-Life Examples

Bring your answers to life by providing specific examples from your previous work or education. This accomplishes two things: building credibility and making you relatable. Illustrate your strengths with anecdotes, like: “I developed my leadership skills as president of my sorority. I was responsible for heading monthly meetings, providing direction to other members, and managing operations.”


Don’t B.S.

If you get stumped by a question, rather than fumbling your way through it, simply acknowledge that it is a question you haven’t previously considered. Ask questions of the interviewer that will help you discern what they're looking for — to show you're engaged and thinking on your feet — or, ask if you might return to that topic later so you can better provide a thoughtful response.


Turn Weakness Into Strength

When asked about weaknesses, make sure you circle around to what you’re doing to improve those shortcomings. For example, if you’ve had difficulty staying organized in the past, you might talk about how you’re now working with a coach or how you recently read a helpful book on time management. More importantly, bring the focus back to the requirements of the job and how the new-and-improved you is primed to meet them.

Be Proud Of Your Strengths And Accomplishments

People will often downplay their success in an effort to avoid bragging. But, an interview is not the time for modesty. A strong belief in your skills and who you are could land you the job — a watered-down version of yourself won’t.

Ask For Feedback

Towards the end of the interview, gently ask the interviewer if they’d have any hesitation in hiring you and, if so, what might it be. This is an assertive way to elicit any doubts they might have, and an opportunity for you to clarify or give more information.

Take Every Interview Opportunity That Comes Your Way

With each new sit-down you’ll hone your skills and get more comfortable. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work and you’ll be able to apply that knowledge when your dream interview comes around. And, with your newfound cool and confident career outlook, it definitely will.

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