Overcoming Job Search and Interview Anxiety

Three Fears During a Job Search: When I was a kid one of the most popular shows on television was Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Simple concept, terrifying show.

The show was about a group of friends would sit around a campfire in a remote location in the woods.  Who were these children, why were they out at night with no supervision, how did they know how to start a fire?  All valid questions that never seemed to get answered.

Every episode someone in the circle would begin narrating a scary story, and then that story would come to life in all it’s wonderful television magic.  And soon the audience forgot the storytelling framework of the show and was sucked into a terrifying story usually involving the paranormal.  One of the reasons that I think the show was so successful and why most 90’s kids still remember it, is because it played on one powerful emotion – fear.  So what is fear?

Fear: something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension (Dictionary.com)

Fear is something that from a very young age we all experience in some way or another.  Our unique up bringing, experiences, and personality changes the way we interact and react with fear, but the basic cause of fear is universal.

interview fears

What causes you to feel dread or apprehension?  For me it is having to talk to people I don’t know, especially over the phone.  I’ve learned to deal with that fear having worked in the staffing industry for enough time now, but as an introvert who likes to live in my own head trying to explain thoughts and feelings to someone else is one of the hardest things for me to do.  In the past if I had an upcoming presentation or interview I would feel the worry in my stomach for the days leading up to it.  Then the day of all I would feel is nausea, and right before I had to get in front of people my heart rate would rise and I would get short of breath.  It wasn’t fun.  But I learned to deal with it, life happened and as I got older I learned that there are bigger things in life and if I walk around afraid to talk to people all the time I was going to miss out on a lot.

I’d be lying if I said I still wasn’t somewhat afraid of talking to people I don’t know, or speaking in front of large groups of people, I definitely am. The difference is I know how to deal with the fear.

For most people the entire process of search and interviewing for a new job can bring up fears and struggles. It can be a difficult, putting yourself out there and being vulnerable. Everyone’s process is a bit different, but there are a few things that we all have to learn to deal with.

Fear of Sounding Stupid

When I’ve interviewed in the past the “fear of sounding stupid” was one of the biggest things I tried to avoid.  After all there is only so much interview preparation you can do.  Researching the company, the interviewers and then talking to people you know who work or have worked there to get a sense of the company culture and what the interview process was like.  But no matter how long you spending preparing you simply don’t know what an interviewer will throw your way.

Instead of being afraid of this, embrace it.  See it as a challenge, as a way to practice your cat like reflexes. If you are stressed and terrified of what an interviewer will ask, it will show.  You either know the answers or don’t. If it is a personality interview you do the best you can and be yourself.  Since you will potentially have to work with one another in the future, you don’t want to put on any false pretenses.

Fear of Being Rejected

It would be hard not to have this fear when going through the interview process.  Especially the further you get with a potential employer.   You want to make sure that you haven’t been wasting your time, money, and sick days just for a group of people to tell you that you aren’t good enough.

I would bet that almost everyone has interviewed for a job and been rejected, some more often than others.   Everyone will experience rejection at some point either as the interviewer or interviewee, companies are good at knowing who is a fit and who isn’t.  Wouldn’t you rather be turned down for a position and deal with the disappointment than get hired for the wrong job and realize it a few months in and then have to start over again?

If you interview honestly and do everything you can, the right job and company will find you, just have a little faith.

Fear of Failing

Some might claim that this is a bit too close to #2 but in my mind they hold different places.  To be rejected is to discard as unsatisfactory (Dictionary.com).  Failure is an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success (Dictionary.com).

So rejection is something that only someone else can put on you, in the end you can’t really control rejection, you can only control your reaction to it.  Failure on the other hand is something you put on yourself, so you CAN control it and your reaction.  We all fail in life, it’s natural and it’s necessary.  It is only by failure that we learn how to do better.  If you mess up and something doesn’t go as you planned or wanted and you failed, IT’S OK. You’ll know better next time. Learn from it.

It’s important to change our mindset of failure from being the worst possible outcome to it being an inevitable outcome at some point and learning from it.

Yes there are many more that I could list but in my personal experience and from working in the staffing industry these are the 3 fears that standout to me and job seekers should face when getting ready to interview.

Let me close by saying, it will all work out the way it is supposed to in the end.  Your next no is one step closer to the next yes.