Q: I have not interviewed in many years, and I am dreading the whole process. Thinking about it makes me so nervous that I know it will affect my performance. What can I do to prepare and get over this so I can get a job?
A. Interviewing can be an anxiety producing event, and many people see the entire process as a meeting with people who are there to judge you or find fault with your experience. Some interviewers do their best to increase anxiety; while others believe the best way to find out about a candidate is to make them comfortable with the process. Unless you are interviewing for a high stress job, anticipate interviews as an opportunity to talk to others about all that you have done, which they have already told you they are interested in hearing more about. Also take it as an opportunity to interview them to determine if their organization is a place you want to work.
I consulted with Dr. Paul Powers, a career coach and author of "Winning Job Interviews” (Career Press), who notes that job interviews are anxiety producing because a lot hinges on their outcome; this is a totally normal and predictable human response. He says it is par for the course and to use the word par to remember three keys to reducing interview anxiety.
P is for preparation. Before the interview review your resume or application and know every aspect of the information you have included. Many interviewers will use our resume as a guide or script for the interview so have a positive anecdote for every item. “WJI” has a comprehensive list of many typical questions you might encounter which you can use as a guide to your preparation. Take the time to write out the answers you will use so that your comfort level increases. Review your notes from previous interviews to remind you of things you feel comfortable talking about, and were well received in other interviews.
A is for attitude. You've gotten this far in the process- pat yourself on the back. No one has so much time on their hands that they can waste time interviewing candidates whom they think can't do the job. This interview is proof that you are making solid progress - no matter how many you've had.
R is for relaxation. A moderate amount of stress is not a bad thing and can actually enhance memory and performance. But if there's too much and it's getting in your way you should utilize the stress reduction technique that works best for you. Others have successfully used deep breathing, gentle exercise, meditation, visualization (either of past, positive interviews or just of calming natural scenes).
And finally, just before you meet your interviewer put a smile on your face and say to yourself “This is going to go great!” Paul and I agree that this will help you make it so.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.