Three Causes of Nervousness at the Job Interview

by on Jun 28, 2015

An interview is where you market and sell yourself to your potential employer.  Sweating, palpitation, butterflies (or even elephants) in the stomach, heavy breathing, etc. are common symptoms of  anxiety at a job interview.

Here are three key contributors to it.  When one or more of these apply, the tension already sets in even before you reach the interview venue. So if these can be prevented, a lot of the tension can be avoided and you will feel more cheerful and optimistic.

1. Lack of Preparation

Preparation is not just about anticipating the questions and rehearsing how you will answer them. While we may be well prepared on that front, we may miss out on getting ready with the necessary documents, the right outfit for the interview and the other logistics.

We generally  procrastinate or do not think much about these in advance. And the scene a couple of hours before the interview might be spectacular as this:

Now where is that white shirt or uh-oh, I can’t find the matching trousers for this one, or heck my shoes are a mess, or darn why are these socks already “single”… stress hormones release,  palpitation increases.

An hour to go and the documents are not ready…the printer lets you down or  the computer hangs on you, or you can’t find one of the key documents…more stress hormones, butterflies in the stomach.

The fuel tank is empty, long queue at the gas station…butterflies evolve into dinosaurs that walk all over the tummy, just as they once walked the planet.

The poor interview gets convicted for causing the nervousness, while  Smarty Pants,  the lack of preparation, is not even a suspect!

So, recognize that the lack of preparation  is ‘Accused # 1’.  Get all your documents, clothes, belts, shoes and whatever else ready well ahead of the interview. Check out the maps, decide the routing, make a fail proof plan for travel taking traffic jams into account  and any other hassles real or perceived.  Have a plan B for travel, just in case.

2. The Wrong Clothes

Somehow, some wrong clothes make it to our wardrobe.  Either we don’t like them or we are not quite comfortable in them – they are ill-fitting, or the wrong color, or the wrong shade, or the wrong cut and so forth.  Nonetheless, we continue living with them  knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally.

We also have in our wardrobe clothes that we simply love and can live in them forever. There is a lot of research on the web that says clothes impact our happiness and confidence levels. We feel more confident in the clothes that we love.

But we didn’t realize all this stuff and  inadvertently picked the wrong dress or the uncomfortable shoes for the interview. The result – ouch this tight collar or argh the hurting shoe or the uneasy fabric….physical discomfort, lack of confidence or low self-esteem result in increased anxiety.

Recognize that the wrong dress is ‘Accused # 2’.  Wear one of your favorite and the most comfortable of your outfits to the interview, one that makes you feel happy and confident (of course, while choosing the outfit, also keep in mind the popular do’s and don’ts on dressing for an interview as commonly prescribed by trainers).

3. The Outcome Anxiety

A variant of the “will she/won’t she” nervousness when proposing to the lady starts setting in before a job interview.

Will I….won’t  I….will I….won’t I…will I….won’t I…will I….won’t I…be hired?

For a moment, let’s just assume you won’t be hired.  SO WHAT? BIG DEAL.

No apocalypse, for sure. If you don’t get this job, it only means that you will certainly get another one. Just as you meet a new person in your love life if one has said “No”. And you don’t even have a heart-break to deal with in the case of the missed  job. So why the anxiety?

Recognize that worrying about the result of the interview is ‘Accused # 3’. Make enjoying the interview the goal of your interview, and not getting the job.  This does not mean that you should get too causal and not do  the interview well. This also does not mean that you should already assume  you will not get the job. This only means that you should do all you can to do the interview well, be optimistic, but not think too much about the outcome.

Not to Forget

Additionally,  it would be a great idea to avoid using caffeine before an interview as caffeine is known to increase anxiety.  While on caffeine, it is worth noting that it would be prudent to avoid alcohol or at least not get too drunk on the eve of the interview, as we really don’t intend to attend the interview with a hangover-induced anxiety.

So, hang the real causes of the anxiety to the nearest lamp post; go ahead and enjoy your interview.  Wish you all the best!

Source:  Observations from the various training workshops that I conducted.

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