Job interviews can be nerve-racking for anyone. For those who struggle with general or social anxiety, interviews can be downright terrifying. There are countless resources online and in print that preach the ultimate ways to overcome interview anxiety. While some methods are probably standard across the board, others may or may not work depending on the person.
As someone who absolutely dreads job interviews, and who (no joke) once answered “I don’t know” when the interviewer said “Tell me about yourself,” these are a few of my go-to tricks:
1. Be prepared.
Do your research on the employer and the position you’re interviewing for. Know the basics about the company, their mission statement, and any major projects they’re involved in. Be ready with answers to the most common interview questions such as: Tell me about yourself, What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? What interests you about this position? Where do you see yourself in five years? Practice your answers, but don’t memorize them, otherwise your delivery will sound stilted and rehearsed.
2. Relax (and breathe).
Pay attention to what your body is doing. If you’re tense, relax your muscles, stretch, take a walk, flex your hands and neck. If your breathing is shallow, practice taking slow, deep breaths. Practice self-talk, like you’ve got this, and you’re going to be fine. Stand while you’re waiting, or sit up straight. Smile.
3. Use humor.
Within reason, of course, it’s totally acceptable to break the ice with some light, professional humor. It will help you and the interviewer relax, and shows that you don’t take yourself too seriously. You can put a lighthearted spin on an embarrassing moment from your last job, or share a witty story about a customer you helped.
4. Be yourself.
The interviewer is interested in getting to know you. Act natural, and don’t try to make yourself look like someone you’re not. Be professional, but don’t be afraid to let your personality and quirks show through. It’s okay to be honest about your weaknesses and any concerns you may have about the position. This is also your chance to assess your potential employer. They’re interviewing you, but you’re also interviewing them.
5. Slow down.
Don’t feel like you have to rush to answer every question. Pause. Think it through. Take a sip of water. Rushing can make your responses seem rehearsed, and may cause you to stumble over your words or forget something important. If you do get to the end of the interview and realize you forgot something relevant, go ahead and tell the interviewer you have something you’d like to add.
6. Be okay with the outcome, whatever it is.
Even if it feels like it, your life doesn’t depend on getting this job. You will be okay if you don’t get the offer. Chances are, you were one applicant out of dozens, if not hundreds, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t a good fit. Find your next opportunity, and try again. It’s okay to feel discouraged and disappointed, but definitely don’t give up.
Amanda Baczek is an aspiring graphic designer and current arranger of words (sometimes good ones.) She finds fiction writing to be the greatest antidote to reality, but has a passion for connecting with the outside world through all forms of the written word. A recovering worst-case scenario expert, she's learning to be okay with change and uncertainty, and hopes to help others discover the joy and freedom in listening to their creative heartbeat and following their craziest dreams.