Do your palms start to sweat at the thought of walking into a room and talking to strangers about your job prospects? Do you have trouble sleeping the night before a job interview? Do your legs shake or knees wobble as you try to answer interview questions? All of these symptoms are part of a larger issue called job interview anxiety. Don't worry, though — you are perfectly normal if you feel anxious ahead of a job interview.
According to a 2013 survey from Harris Interactive and Everest College, as many as 92 percent of adults in the United States stress over one or more aspects of a job interview. People who responded to the survey cited nervousness as the top issue, followed by being overqualified, inability to respond to a hard question and arriving late to the interview.
Up to 17 percent of respondents felt nervousness caused the most stress. Around 15 percent didn't want to deal with their overqualified status. Questions that stumped an interviewee came up 15 percent of the time. Meanwhile, arriving late was a concern for 14 percent of the people in the survey. The Everest College poll asked 1,002 employed adults several questions via telephone.
Income levels determined the types of stress endured by job applicants. Those with a family income of less than $50,000 cited nervousness as the top fear 22 percent of the time. Just 11 percent of people with a household income of $100,000 or more said they felt nervous as the top concern. People with just a high school degree also ranked nervousness high on the list at 22 percent, whereas college graduates felt a nervous response occurred 11 percent of the time.
What do all of these numbers mean? They indicate you are not alone when it comes to job interview anxiety. You have numerous reasons to feel nervous during an interview. However, this type of response is completely normal.
Why So Nervous?
The nervousness before and during a job interview is a natural physiological response as you get ready to perform. Your heart rate elevates and you might mistake your body's response as something bad. Consider that you rarely get nervous around your friends or people you know. That's because there's no hostile environment in those situations.
Your nervous feelings might arise because there are consequences to your actions in an interview. Someone's attitude towards you may cause additional stress. Plus, you realize that getting a job is important.
As you prepare for an interview, you start getting stage fright. Although that is not a bad thing, your mind might interpret your body's nervous signals as something negative. Then you start to worry, your worry leads to fear of failing and you might begin to worry about worrying too much. The cycle continues and your nervous fears could turn to anxiety.
Anxiety about the job interview occurs when your stress too much. Your stress could lead to mistakes during the interview, such as fidgeting, babbling and incorrect answers. However, you can overcome your anxiety with a few tips and tricks.
How to Handle Job Interview Anxiety
Perhaps the number one way to combat job interview anxiety is preparation. Do your homework on the employer, and become familiar with the company culture, the industry and recent news. Examine the company's website, social media accounts, mission statement and press releases. The more you know about the company, the better.
Put your best assets forward at all times. Smile and display a positive attitude, even when you talk about gaps in your employment record, why you were fired or your greatest weaknesses. Sometimes, a positive attitude wins the day even when you talk about negative things.
Practice does not have to make perfect. Hardly anyone expects perfection at a job interview. However, practice does make permanent. The more you practice, the more comfortable you become at handling different aspects of a job interview. Practice talking naturally as if you are having a conversation. Preparation and practice are just two ways to help handle job interview anxiety.
Relaxation techniques can alleviate stress even further. Visualization includes sitting still and imagining you have a successful interview. Replay the scenario a few times in your head as you ace all of the questions, wow everyone with your smile and then shake hands as you accept the job.
Breathing can go a long way to helping regulate your body's responses to nervousness. While in an interview, simply pausing for a few seconds and taking a deep breath can offer you instant relaxation as you try to answer a question.
Eating the right breakfast before your interview could provide physical assistance to your body. Consider brain foods such as fruits or oatmeal for breakfast. Boost your mood a little more by exercising two hours before the interview. Exercising releases endorphins that make you feel good. As you work out, listen to your favorite music or comedy routine to relax completely.
Job interview stress, fear and anxiety does not have to ruin your job search. Land your dream job by acknowledging your stress, preparing ahead of time and learning a few techniques for the day of your interview. You might find that you have nothing to worry about after all.
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