February 13, 2014
How to manage job-interview anxiety
Many career articles offer tips for eliminating job-interview anxiety. But the thing is, you can't eliminate job interview anxiety; you can only reduce it to a level where you do not display it.
This is important, because displaying anxiety is distracting. It takes away from the positive impression you're trying to make. Your jitters can even infect your interviewer, making him or her less able to focus on wonderful you.
Bottom line: It's OK to feel anxious; it's not OK to show it. True, that's easier said than done. So for starters, check out this checklist:
- Visit the interview site the day before, so you don't get lost looking for it on the day of your interview.
- While you're there, take note of how people are dressed and plan to wear something similar, but just a little nicer.
- Get enough sleep the night before.
- Get a little exercise the morning of.
- Eat some breakfast the morning of.
- Bring a notebook, two pens, extra resumes, a list of your references, business cards (if you have them), your calendar (in case they want to schedule another interview) and a list of questions to ask the interviewer (so you don't draw a blank when asked if you have any).
- Also bring, in your head, the research you did about this company and the position you're seeking within it.
- Arrive 15 minutes early, so you have time to visit the restroom and collect yourself.
- During the interview, take notes. Ask questions. Listen carefully and focus on your interviewer. (Putting your attention on someone other than yourself is a time-tested way to "forget" anxiety.)
- Remind yourself that this interview is not an interrogation, but a conversation. You and the interviewer are simply two people working toward the same goal -- filling a need.
- Know that it's OK to pause for a few seconds before answering. You can even say, "That's an interesting question. Let me think about that."
- Don't schedule anything immediately after the interview. You don't want to be rushing out or, worse, cutting it short.
Finally, remember that a job interview is a little like a theatrical performance -- a one-man/-woman play starring your best possible authentic you. Break a leg!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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