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How to Cope With Anxiety About a Job Interview

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Updated December 11, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

When you are looking for work, the job interview can be a daunting prospect. However, for those with social anxiety disorder (SAD), interviews can elicit severe anxiety and dread beyond what would be considered normal jitters. Interview settings are generally face-to-face with an evaluative component, which is a terrible combination for those with SAD. In addition to the job interview nerves that everyone gets, those with SAD have to contend with intense fear about being judged and evaluated.

What are some signs that a person with SAD might be having problems with job interview nerves? Below are some common problems that you may encounter as part of the fight-or-flight response, your body's way of preparing for what it perceives as a threat.

  • shaky legs
  • pounding heart
  • shortness of breath
  • trembling hands
  • tense muscles
  • trouble thinking clearly
  • cold or sweaty palms
  • shaky voice
  • blushing

Whereas most people who have job interview nerves do fine once they get talking, many people with SAD become more anxious and fearful as the interview goes on. Unfortunately, a good candidate with SAD may be overlooked because of poor performance in an interview. Given that the job interview is the most common way that employers evaluate job candidates, it is important to learn how to deal with this problem.

If the job interview nerves that you are experiencing are part of a larger problem like SAD, treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or medication, can help.

In addition to formal treatment, job-seekers with SAD can manage anxiety by using coping strategies and avoiding behaviors that worsen anxiety prior to and during an interview. By actively seeking treatment and ways to cope, you can greatly alleviate anxiety about job interviews and increase the chances of being the successful candidate.

Sources:

 

Georgia College and State University. Managing Job Interview Anxiety. Accessed November 28, 2009.

Salisbury University. Interview Stress and Anxiety. Accessed November 28, 2009.

Boston College. Dealing with Interview Anxiety. Accessed November 28, 2009.

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