Have you ever been confident for a job interview the entire time leading up to it and then suddenly during the interview you find yourself unable to answer the questions?
You aren’t alone.
This nervousness and anxiety happen to almost everyone. It’s real. It has many names including:
- Job interview anxiety disorder
- Interview anxiety attack
- Severe interview anxiety
I’ve seen this happen thousands of times with candidates that were “perfect” for the job. In fact, I see it every day in my profession. Almost all of the candidates were fully qualified for the job they were applying for. They knew they would make a huge impact and have success in the job and at the company. But something would go wrong in the interviews.
Getting to the bottom of it
At first, I’d brush it off as commonplace. But then I decided it was time to really study what was going on during these interviews. I started asking the hiring managers about what had happened during the interviews that changed their mind about a candidate being a good fit for the position.
Almost every time, the hiring managers told me that they were concerned about the way the candidate answered a few questions. They thought it was indicative of how the candidate would do his or her job. As I dug deeper, I uncovered what was really going on. The crazy thing is...it’s not what you think it would be.
Lack of preparation
The candidates KNEW the best answers to the questions they were answering. However, when I debriefed the candidate after the job interview, I found that they became a little nervous when certain questions came up.
They hadn’t prepared for all the questions and therefore they were thrown off guard by the questions they were being asked from the hiring managers. The questions seemed easy enough, but I wasn’t in their position of having to answer work performance related questions from a total stranger, especially a potential future boss or colleague.
These hiring managers weren’t asking difficult questions. They were asking simple questions about previous job performance, interpersonal relationships at work with customers and co-workers and about family work balance related questions. Almost every time, the candidate thought they answered the question well. But the hiring manager’s feedback they provided was critical of their answers.
The candidate wasn’t connecting with the hiring manager
The candidate didn’t know what the hiring manager was thinking and didn’t put themselves in the hiring manager’s shoes, so to speak. Therefore, they didn’t answer the question correctly.
After the interviews, I debriefed the candidates further.
I found out that they knew they got a little nervous during the interview, but they didn’t think it was enough to affect the outcome of being selected for the job. From the hiring manager’s perspective, it was certainly enough to rule out the candidate.
These problems are fixable
There are various ways to get rid of nerves before a job interview. The candidates weren’t properly prepared for the job interviews or the questions that came up during the interviews. When they weren’t prepared properly, they felt pressure because they wanted the job so badly.
In turn, they got nervous and their answers weren’t correct or sharp enough, their previous confidence shifted to anxiety, and the candidates failed to connect with the hiring managers’ needs or perspectives.
It mostly came down to preparation and being comfortable answering these types of situational questions. When they weren’t prepared, an avalanche of pressure, stress, and nervousness rushed into their mind and body. Their energy shifted from confidence to nervousness and the hiring manager could sense that shift.
It's called “job interview anxiety”
It happens all the time in job candidates that want a job badly. For some reason, these candidates don’t take the time to properly prepare for a job interview and this causes them to fail.
Nowadays, there are resources everywhere and therefore there are no excuses for candidates. If they want the job badly enough, they should prepare for the interview like they prepare for an important test or an important customer visit.
If the candidate wants to impress the hiring manager and get the job, they best take the advice of one of the most famous college basketball coaches of all time, John Wooden, when he said:
“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”
There are many ways and resources to prepare properly for the job interview. I highly doubt that these same candidates didn’t study for an important test in high school or college so why would they skimp on preparing for an important interview that could change the direction of their career forever?