Job interview anxiety can be a huge hurdle for those looking for work. However, if you suffer with social anxiety disorder (SAD), job interviews can be not only anxiety-provoking, but almost impossible to get through. Not only are you required to meet strangers and talk about yourself, but the strangers are in a position of authority. You are being evaluated and judged on your appearance, your demeanor and your ability to sell yourself. This is not a good combination for those with SAD.
If your suffer from SAD, it is important to seek formal treatment, such as medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). However, there are also strategies that you can use to help alleviate nerves before an interview.
If you have SAD, or are simply nervous about a job interview, the following tips may help you to cope with your anxiety.
- Treat Yourself Well
Avoid caffeine, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. By following these three simple rules, you will greatly reduce job interview anxiety.
- Visualize Success
Find a quiet space where you won't be disturbed, close your eyes and visualize yourself being successful in your interview. Visualizing success is more than just positive thinking; when done correctly, you are getting your brain ready to behave in the way that you desire. This technique is used by elite athletes before competitions to improve performance.
- Reduce Stressors
Reduce stressors unrelated to the actual interview, such as uncomfortable clothing, getting lost, or showing up late. Well in advance, choose an outfit that is comfortable and that looks good on you. If you aren't familiar with the location of the interview, give yourself plenty of time to find it or do a trial run a day or two before.
- Do Your Research
Being well-prepared is a great antidote to anxiety. Research your potential employer. Prepare answers to common questions. Every bit of preparation that you can do will help to increase your comfort level and make you feel more confident and capable in the interview.
- Don't Succumb to Pressure
Once in a while, you may be interviewed by someone who grills you to see how you handle stress. Although as a person with SAD it can be tempting to start spiraling into negative automatic thinking, such as "He knows I can't handle this job; I should never have applied" or "They don't really like me; I'll never get the job", stop. If you find yourself in this situation, realize what the interviewer is trying to accomplish and don't let him ruffle your feathers. Know that the other candidates have been treated the same way and that it is no reflection on you or your capabilities.
- Interview the Interviewer
A great way to feel less self-conscious in an interview situation is to realize that interviews are a two-way street. You are deciding whether you want to work for an employer just as much as they are deciding whether they want you to come work for them. Try putting yourself in this mindset and see if your focus doesn't change.
- Release Anxious Energy
Anxiety has a way of leaking out even when you think that you have it well-hidden. If you find yourself fidgeting, try doing something to release anxious energy that no one will notice, such as wiggling your toes.
- Take Your Time
Realize that you don't have to answer questions immediately. Pause before answering and collect your thoughts. If you worry about drawing a blank during interviews, a great technique is to take notes as everyone talks. This takes the focus off of you and allows you to refer to your notes after a question has been asked. If you start to draw a blank, keep making notes and comment that you want to collect your thoughts before responding.
- Be Prepared
A well-prepared interviewee has an immediate advantage in an interview. In addition, being well-prepared and proactive will take the edge off of job interview anxiety. Be sure to bring everything that you think you might need, such as your resume, cover letter, business cards, references, licenses, certifications, and a pen and notepad.
- Congratulate Yourself
Regardless of how you felt that the interview went, congratulate yourself afterward for taking the chance. Do something that you enjoy as a reward. Above all else, avoid ruminating about how the interview went or what could have gone better.
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.