Fear of a job interview can be one of the most intensely stressful feelings in life. But you have to do it at some point to get your dream job.
In the past five years, I had attended more than two dozen job interviews in my native New York City. This blog describes the irrational thoughts and fears I experienced before job interviews.
I discovered quickly that having some sort of job from ages 13 (the day after I got my Working Papers) to age 40 left me poorly prepared for job interviews. I did not know how to interview because most of the jobs I had in my career were “transfers” from one job to the next. I met someone in a business lunch, office or meeting, and they hired me after a few phone calls or emails.
Times change for everyone and we all have to conquer our fears before job interviews. It is necessary to have a job interview with confidence.
5. “I will change all my social media pics to younger pictures of me”
This thought, fear, and action took place long before my first job interview. My mind was fearing age discrimination, a problem I discovered people of all ages face, ironically. I changed all my social media pictures to younger versions believing, “This way, they will not age discriminate”.
When I got to the job interview, they looked at me like I had ten heads. They do not recognize me from my picture on LinkedIn because the picture was 15 to 20 years-old. In a passive way, I communicated that I have a problem with my age.
However, the only way to end up in the perfect job is to be true to yourself, first. Attending interviews under false pretenses has rarely been successful for anyone.
Interview Fear Tip: Be true to yourself from day one of job interview preparation. It will eventually pay dividends. If you have a fear of a job interview because of your social media activity, take your accounts private.
4. “All my interview clothes make me look fat”
It is 9 pm the night before the job interview. There is nothing like pulling every stitch of clothing out of my closet, and trying it on, to make myself feel anxious before a job interview. The reality of “fear” is that it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I was in fear that something was wrong with me, and therefore the complete strangers I was to meet in my job interview would not feel uncomfortable around me. They will have no idea what my problem is and will instead take it as a sign I should be excluded as a job candidate.
3. “I am going to show them I can be early for work and show up early for the job interview”
It is 8 am the morning before a job interview. I want to make a great impression by showing up extra-early. I have a 10 am interview, so I decide to get there at 9:30 am and proceed to sit in front of the receptionist for a half-hour. And I find out there are better ways to show my commitment to a company before the job interview. For example, showing up at the agreed-upon time for the job interview.
We all used Google calendar for a reason. We live in a fast-paced busy world where we try to manage time right down to the very minutes we spend on tasks. I showed up too early for a job interview and rushed or inconvenienced around me. I threw off their interview schedule.
Interview Fear Tip: Do not let your fear of job interviews lead you to ignore the boundaries of employers. It is ok to show up early “for work” after they hire you. Right now, it is best to be on time for the job interview. You are showing your social awareness and professionalism.
2. “I am going to tell them all about my amazing experiences in my career”
I used to get this brilliant idea many times before job interviews. This irrational thought has since led to very long job interviews in which hiring managers nearly fell asleep and I was never hired. I made this mistake a few times until I woke up one day and realized this tip.
Interview Fear Tip: Do not let your fear of a job interview take you off script. Stick to describing how you can help them with their needs because of your experience. Make the job interview less about, “Here I am!” and more about “There you are and here’s how I can help!”.
1. “I will impress them with my knowledge of their company”
This thought popped into my head before job interviews in which I knew I was qualified. Assuming I knew more about a company than the actual people who worked there led to a very bad job interview. For example, the job interview I write about in this post took place about 3 years ago.
I went to a job interview at a new company founded in New York City called “Peleton”, which has since seen much success. At the time, Peleton was growing quickly and already popular around New York City. As New Yorkers do, I take pride and ownership in anything “Made in NY”. So, before the job interview, I researched the company and spoke to people who used the product. I got dressed in my best suit and was armed with a knowledge of both customers and product. This was a good idea, but my application of this knowledge went all wrong for the job interview.
I got to the office in Silicon Alley, NYC and found myself being interviewed by a young company of smart people who clearly had little time to be impressed. They needed things done. In my attempts to impress, I believe I came across as a know-it-all, arrogant “suit” who talked too much. They had enough of me after about 20 minutes.
Interview Fear Tip: It is great to research a company and know the product. This all means very little if you cannot stop talking long enough to let the employer speak.
The actual job interview and after
This has been a list of irrational thoughts and fears before one specific job interview. Check out this blog to find out the irrational thoughts and fears I had after the job interview.