How To Overcome Your Fear of Interviews

How To Overcome Your Fear of Interviews

How To Overcome Your Fear of Interviews

By Mark Wager

This week I've received an email from someone in New Zealand who was just about to head to an interview and was incredibly nervous and wanted some advice on how to be successful.

"Dear Mr Wager, I have a job interview this afternoon and I am incredibly nervous. It's been a long time since I last went to an interview and I feel also paralysed by fear. I was wondering if you had some time to go through some things that might be relevant to help. Thanks Aimee"

It's important to remember that every situation is different and, depending on the nature of the job, the interviewee and the interviewer these unique situations can be addressed and solutions developed in depth in an individual coaching session. However, in response to an email, my reply is going to focus more on a high-level solution that is applicable across a range of scenarios.

It's natural to be nervous

The number one issue people have to overcome when being interviewed is nerves. A job interview can be stressful. People who you may have never met before are about to judge whether you are good enough to do a job. You are about to enter a situation you have never had before. Its natural you are nervous.

To overcome your nerves you first need to understand why your mind is reacting the way it is. The feeling of anxiety, nervousness and sometimes fear is created by your mind as a defence mechanism. People have an instinctive fundamental desire to survive so when faced with a situation that is unknown, the mind automatically imagines the worst case scenario because being aware of danger greatly increases our probability of safety. This worked extremely well with our ancient ancestors because if they heard rustling in the woods, it may have been a tiger waiting to pounce or just the wind. If they assumed it was the wind and they were wrong then they could become someone's dinner, yet if they imaged it was a tiger and they were wrong then nothing bad happened. It's part of our natural instinct to interpret any unknown scenario as a dangerous one. While this worked for our ancestors it doesn't work as well in today's age when we are in less danger of being eaten on a daily basis.

Information is the enemy of fear.

It's difficult to override your natural instinct and takes a lot of time yet you can eliminate what is causing your instinctual reaction and that is the unknown. Reduce the unknown and you reduce the level of fear. How many times have you been fearful of a situation only afterwards to wonder what on earth you were so nervous about. The only difference between before and after is the level of information you possess.

In the scenario of an interview, do your research. Ask what type of interview it's going to be, whether a group interview, an assessment or panel interview. I even know people who enquire after who was on the interviewing panel so that they could research the people making the decisions. You will be amazed by the amount of information you can gather in just a few minutes on the Internet. Interviews are being held everyday in thousands of companies all around with world. Everyone has different experiences with interviews both conducting the interview and being the interviewee. Reach out and ask people. What questions were they asked, what did they do that worked well and what didn't. Just reach out like Aimee did to me.

If the company you have applied to is good, then they would have already given you information on the type of person they are looking for, both in terms of skills and personality. Look at the advert, check the job description and research the company, what are their values, what do they stand for? The more information you possess, the lower the level of the unknown and therefore the fear will be less.

Challenge your instincts.

Your instincts are there to ensure your survival and are not there to ensure your success. It's important to differentiate between survival and success. One is living a safe life and the other is living life to its fullest. Just because your instincts tell you to be nervous it doesn't mean you have to agree. It's time to challenge your instincts.

A good way to do this is to imagine the worst possible scenario and the consequences of that scenario. Just imagine the worst thing that could ever happen at an interview. The worst scenario is that you don't get the job and ask yourself how is that scenario any different to the current reality? So the nightmare scenario that you are so scared of has exactly the same outcome as if you completely give in to your fear so logically the only way to get any positive outcome is to challenge your instincts and face your fear.

Interviews are stressful situations but like any fearful situation you have to remind yourself that fear is nothing but a door. It's a door that separates the life you want from the life you have today. You just need to decide if you want to open that door

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted: Monday 4 July 2016


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