8 Steps to Acing an Interview with Anxiety
Objective: Learning and Applying Practical Advice to Acing Interviews with Anxiety
The objective of this article is to help those that are anxious by giving practical advice and concrete examples that you can apply today! To help you get the job you rightfully deserve.
You tweaked your resume and cover letter. Everybody is struggling about not getting any interviews. You, on the other hand, have put in the work to make yourself a desirable candidate.
If you’re reading this, it probably means that you’re not being held back by laziness, but lack of guidance.
Getting a job interview, is like taking a special lady/guy out on a date. It’s obvious they like you, or else you wouldn’t be there. Does that mean, you’re going to get married in the future? Possibly.
Could it also mean you’re going to be together for a couple months and realize you didn’t work out for each other? Why not?
Why am I talking about dating and job interviews? Because it’s funny; however, they’re similar in nature.
You’ll almost never get called in for an interview by a manager who doesn’t think you can do the job.
Would you ask a girl/guy out on a romantic date, that you don’t think you could possibly date long-term in the future? Nope, it would be a waste of time
Just remember, when you’re at a job interview the manager is rooting for you. Managers dread the hiring process, the easier you make it for them, the more they’ll appreciate you.
Know the Specific Job You Will be Doing
Please don’t go into a job interview looking lost. If you get a call congratulating you on an interview from “X company” and you forget what job it was, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. You have the leverage.
Always read the job description, its there for a reason. The most important step for the manager is seeing if you can do the job.
One of A Hiring Managers greatest fear is not hiring an applicant that can’t do everything, but an employee that doesn’t want to learn.
Be prepared to discuss every task/duty listed in the job description. I’ll go further into depth about asking questions in this guide.
What if I get stumped
Unless you’re interviewing for Nascar, this is not a race. Remember that you’re being interviewed. Interviewing is a lucrative skill to master.
Every powerful politician makes a living doing interviews and has the help of professional writers. Guess what? They still stumble over their words and get caught in lies.
When faced with a difficult question, and you need time to think? Just say “That’s a good question I need to think about it”
Interviewer: What is one thing that you can teach us?
Presenter: That’s a good question, let me think about that…
Presenter: What I’ve learned working is that when I schedule my time and create to-do lists, I get more work done faster because I’m more efficient.
This tip works well for soft skills and personality-based questions. Don’t use this strategy for technical or skill related questions.
Interviewer: How do you create a pivot table using Microsoft Excel?
Presenter: That’s a good question, let me think about that…
This is a bad example, especially if this is a necessary skill for your job. You’re better off saying, that you’re rusty and you’ll need to touch up. Mention similar skills or software you might have used. Maybe mention a time where you learned a specific software in a short amount of time.
Say Less than necessary
How do you catch a liar or somebody who is not confident? The man that needs to prove himself.
Think about it. If I asked, “Can you drive?”
In this hypothetical scenario, you’ve been driving for 10 years. The response would most likely go like this.
Interviewer: Are you a good driver?
Interviewee: Yes, I have my license, and I uber from time to time.
However, if you just got your license the night before, the conversation would look more like this.
Interviewer: Do you know how to drive?
Interviewee: Yes, I have my license, I drive down the main street, I drive down 123 Highway, I drive to work, to school. I also know how to zipper merge onto the highway, and always signal. I also know that when you park facing upwards on a hill your steering wheel to the curb.
Did you see the differences in both examples? Who looked more confident?
Which one would you hire, the one that gave all the examples? Probably not, he sounds like he’s overcompensating.
However, that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that example 2 mentioned an error at the end about turning your wheel to the curb when you’re parking uphill, instead of downhill. This could’ve been an honest mistake but is not too reassuring.
The more you speak, the more opportunity to mess up.
I know you aren’t reading this article to become a driving instructor. You want to crush interviews. I just needed to point out why talking too much isn’t worth it. heck maybe even the guy from the second example is a better driver.
Even though I still wouldn’t trust him as much as the first because he exposed an error about himself by speaking too much. The more you say, the more that can be used against you.
The Interviewer assumes you can do the job. Focus on trying not to prove him wrong, instead of trying to prove him right.
Tailor your personality
This tip sounds deceptive, but it is not. View it like this, when you tailor a pair of dress pants, are you changing it? Or are you modifying it, so they can better fit your knees(needs).
Remember, the real-world rewards those that can adapt their environment. When it comes to an interview everything is personal. Especially depending on the job. The economy is in shambles, the only way skill trumps personality is if you possess a skill that is extremely high in demand, and difficult to find (Programmer, Doctor, Crane Operator etc.)
Everybody is guilty of appreciating personal connections. Who would you tip more? A waiter that was extremely polite and filled your cup with water to the brim, and asked how you were doing every 5 minutes.
Or A waiter that can joke around with you greets you with a warm smile, is a die-hard fan of your favorite sports team, and shares similar interests (movies, religion, culture). I guess this depends on the person, but most would choose the latter in this situation.
Entry level Jobs with a high margin for error are personality focused.
Why? Because, the difference between a good waiter and a great waiter, from just a technical point of view, is not that different. You might get your food faster, or more ice in your cup, but a meal is a meal. The difference between a good surgeon vs a great surgeon is a life saved, so a smile won’t get you as far in the medical field.
Not to talk down on another profession, it’s just that a waiter/bartender is more hospitality and entertainment focused. If the job is done right you’re going to get the food regardless.
In addition, a likable waiter/bartender/cashier can make a person a customer for life. Building relationships are key.
How do I tailor my personality?
Simple, mirror her attitude. If she is joking around and easy going, don’t be afraid to laugh at a joke if you find it funny as well.
When a boss is analytical, and to the point. Maintain a calm professional demeanor and keep your answers brief.
Your safest bet is always to keep it slightly more professional than when you would actually be working there.
Power of Perception
Have you ever heard the saying, “confidence is comforting?” No? probably because I just made it up.
The power of perception is real, if you act like you can do a job, people will believe you. Experience doesn’t always matter. All I need to say is this. Act, and you shall become.
As soon as you walk in that door, the manager thinks you’re as good as you believe you are.
Managers want somebody that can take on any challenge given to them. Why do you think war veterans with educational backgrounds are in such demand?
Because managers know that they are disciplined and can deal with adversity. If they can handle bullets flying at them and remain calm, then I’m sure they can handle a stressful customer call. Even if they don’t have direct experience.
When a manager is interviewing candidates, he really needs to go with his gut. Don’t be phased, and dress appropriately, one level above work attire.
Act like you don’t care if you get the job
This doesn’t necessarily mean showing up late with a Dorito stain on your tie. This just means try not to overcompensate.
- Call the manager by their first name.
- Cut them off politely if you want to say something or add a point
- If you don’t understand or get something, don’t be afraid to ask questions
This may seem polite or rude in at first glance, and that’s okay.
***This is mainly applicable to adult to adult interviews, and nay excludes jobs with stricter prestige e.g. Law firm, courtroom, military etc.***
Put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes. Have you ever been offended by somebody calling you by your first name? Most likely not.
Remember that your hiring manager is practically just another person that stayed in one company for a longer period, that’s just how seniority works.
Perception is so important because of how contagious emotional energy is.
I would never hire a chef that couldn’t firmly grasp a stove pot, a photographer that looked awkward/shaky holding a camera. No matter what their experience is, I need to see that they feel comfortable.
Politics aside. When you look at Donald Trump, you must give him credit. He convinced half a country that he can be president through his confidence, over Hilary Clinton, a candidate with years of relative experience.
Here’s an example of Hilary Clinton’s speech in her debate against Trump. She doesn’t fully lack confidence; however, she says what she wants to happen, and looks for approval. However, her words aren’t spoken without 100% doubt.
The demeanor of Donald Trump’s speech says he can run America with his eyes closed, hands tied behind his back. He does this through body language such as less head nodding.
Donald uses power phrases in his speech. “We have a winning fight” “wonders of the world”
Whether you support him or not, he was able to convince the masses that he can run a country, over somebody with intensive political experience.
Here’s a fun interview example from breaking bad spin-off, Better Call Saul. Even though it’s from a TV Show, the scenario is very genuine and captivating. What I want you to pay attention to is how he uses his body language, and energy to sell himself.
How to Answer Difficult Questions?
In this section, I’ll teach you how to avoid getting stumped at interviews. When an interviewer asks a question, anybody can answer yes. Like English class, always use point + proof + explanation.
e.g. “(Interviewer)How is your attendance?” “(Interviewee/you) I worked 6 days a week at 7 am every day for 3 years. I was responsible for the store opening and needed to be reliable. If I wasn’t there, then the customers would be locked out”
Point: “I have great attendance” Telling the interviewer that you’re reliable.
Proof: “Never missed a day in 3 years. I woke up early to open the store”. An example of you being reliable.
Explanation: “If I wasn’t there, then the customers would be locked out”. Explaining your proof is useful when explaining the value, you provided, and how it proves your point.
The explanation isn’t always necessary if the truth is self-explanatory.
You’re anxious about your interview, right? Anxiety comes from the fear of the unknown. It’s about a lack of control and preparation for the unknown.
How do we help this? No problem. Google “your job name” + “Interview questions”
The general rule of thumb is to practice and answer 10 interview questions Related to your job. They tend not to vary too much and help you improvise.
Here are the 3 most common interview questions and how you should answer them?
- Tell me about yourself / Who are you?
What are they looking for? How your experience and background relate to this job.
Before I knew this, when I got this question, I would tell them about my life, where I came from, and how I was a middle child and learned to fend for myself.
If you were hiring a DJ for a birthday party, and you asked him to tell him more about himself, would you want to know his favorite food, and hobbies? or the events he DJs and the music he played? Most likely the latter.
Save the life stories for your drinking buddies. Keep answers brief and straight to the point
What should you say then? Summarize your resume. Talk about your educational background, and what you learned that you think will apply to the job.
Summary of applying to an administrative job e.g.
Interviewer: Tell us about yourself?
Employer: I have a diploma in office administration. I was taught how to use bookkeeping programs like QuickBooks. I went on to use this information to track employee work schedules.
They taught me organizational skills and taught me how to process work orders through excel using pivot tables, and data charts etc.
I worked at [Insert Company Name] and would communicate with the president directly and give him information while booking meetings and presentations, which relates to the project coordination skill listed in this job description.
The point of this example is to give a perspective on this question is to show how deceptive interview questions are. Customer service and office type jobs ask questions like this to see if you’re able to read between the lines.
- How did you deal with a conflict you had with a co-worker?
What are they looking for? Are you going to stir up drama? How good are you at resolving conflicts?
I’ll give you the bad news first. This question could easily destroy any chance you have of getting the job. Especially customer service and office jobs.
The good news is, this question is straightforward and easy.
First, use an example of a conflict you had at work. Bonus points if it relates to the job you’re applying for.
Make sure the conflict is work related, and not personal. Managers resent employees that bring personal problems into the workplace.
They’re called personal problems because they belong to your person(you).
Second, demonstrate how YOU solved it. This is a good example to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. Make yourself the hero in this story. This means, don’t resolve it by calling a manager, security, your mommy etc.
Third, explain that you usually try to prevent conflicts by focusing on work, and/or being open to them.
Interviewer: Give an example of a time or situation that you had a conflict at work?
Employee(you): I usually try to prevent conflicts at work. We had a busy work schedule, my co-worker needed me to send him an email with important attachments.
Co-worker: You forgot to send the attachments
Employee: Oh, alright
Co-worker: Hello, could you send the
He asked me the first time, I said I already sent them. I wasn’t receiving them. I asked him again, then he was getting extremely annoyed.
He still didn’t receive them, and I felt like he was getting upset, so instead of sending the attachments again.
I emailed him, so he could just reply to me.
Do the Background Research
Before the background interview, learn about what the company does. You can do this by simply googling their website, and then going to the about section.
What if You’re still Nervous?
I do stand up comedy open mics and competitions. The first time I went on stage, I did a decent job and even got an encore. I thought to myself this is easier than it looks, and it was.
The second time I got on stage; it was nerve-wracking. They called my name, I walked up to the stage and I was looking to an audience that was looking at me for entertainment.
Losing focus, and over worrying, I forgot what I was going to say. I could barely breathe and/or speak. As soon as I got on stage I forgot what I was going to say. After I was done, I felt embarrassed. Then the next day I felt nothing. I was done. I was terrified of speaking for 5 minutes, then the anxiety disappeared.
I came a long way, and the thing that helped me the most is remembering that it fear is only temporary.
Ever heard of the law of the 10’s? No? Probably because I just made it up. The first time we do something is the toughest. We can not predict things in advance. After multiplying the number of times by 10, we feel much more comfortable. For example, if you were driving.
|1st time||I feel extremely nervous, heart pounding. Not confident in driving skills, will only stay on the sidewalk.|
|10th time||Still very nervous, slightly easier to focus. Comfortable on side streets.|
|100th time||Only nervous in unpredictable and hectic situations, don’t mind speeding or rushing turns occasionally.|
|1000th time||Driving with confidence is not an issue. Feels comfortable driving anywhere: highways, roads etc.|
This is not 100% accurate for anybody, but most drivers have experienced this before their own eyes.
Time keeps moving. Whenever you catch yourself in a nerve-wracking situation just remember that it is only temporary. Remember the last time you were anxious? What happened? Did things thing turn out as bad as you thought they would be? Most likely not, you probably don’t even remember the last time you were anxious.
You can only prepare for the future, but you can never predict exactly what will happen all the time.
Anxiety is all about the mindset, you’re allowed to be nervous. If you have a five-minute presentation and you are still nervous, that’s okay. Don’t think about how nervous you’re going to be, ask yourself, can I be nervous for 5 minutes. After, you’re in the clear. The beginning is half the battle.
How are successful people so fearless?
Short answer, they aren’t. People you look up to feel nervous all the time, they just push past it and grow stronger from the experience. Anytime you face an anxiety causing situation, you grow from it.
Society tells us that we need to be fearless and courageous to achieve our goals. Every successful person we see can take on their challenges head-on without fears.
Tom Brady admits to playoff anxiety. John Legend has stage fright and admits to throwing up before large performances (Superbowl, sold out arenas).
You can gain confidence by being exposed to the same situation time and time again.
Hard to believe, but many drug dealers feel more comfortable and at ease selling drugs, vs an office or professional environment. Does cooking and selling cocaine seem more nerve-wracking, compared against creating an excel sheet?
Most would say no. This is the power of familiarity. Putting yourself in an anxious will help your brain adapt over time. Feel nervous at your first interview? How about the 10th interview? Or the 100th? This concept is known as exposure therapy.
Have you ever gone swimming/fishing/cruising? Sounds fun.
Well, an estimated 19 million Americans have some sort of aquaphobia. Humans tend to fear many different things. People are terrified of things that you can do with ease.
Whenever I feel worried, I go to this website that shows me a different list of fears people have. Some of them will shock you.
What if they can tell?
Try taking that tinfoil hat off your head. Just kidding I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been nervous before performing and after I get off stage people tell me how “comfortable I looked”.
I find this awesome because I was nervous; They just didn’t know.
Why? Because I never showed them. Most people can’t tell if you’re nervous. You get to decide if people think you’re nervous, nobody else.
How can I do that?
Act like somebody that is not nervous
- Don’t fidget: Leg shaking, nail biting
- Do not look at the floor:
- Don’t be afraid of eye contact
- Keep chin above the collar bone (head up)
Take it slow
Believe in the power of pace. Have you heard the saying “the slower you go, the better you flow”? No? probably because I just made it up, yet it’s true.
Speak slowly, a nervous person speaks quickly. The reason speaking quickly makes you seem anxious is because it is a negative feedback loop. You constantly need to come up with more words to say. This was me at my first interview in a dusty call center. I was speaking faster than rapper Busta Rhymes.
When speaking quickly, you lose focus and stutter more. Which made me even more nervous.
Make sure you take deep, slow breaths, this lowers heart rate. This is how professional athletes are taught to breathe. As your breathing rate increases, your heart rate increases. Vice versa.
A job interview is a shoe-in, they want to hire you. Also remember that if you don’t get hired, it is not your fault. Have you ever been met with terrible customer service, and wonder how that person got the job? There are bad interviewees and even worse interviewers.
Everybody is an interviewer too.
Don’t believe me?
An interviewer hires an employee for the desired service. Have you hired a wedding photographer before? When you found one online and called in you most likely want to hire him.
Always remember: if you can get the interview, you can get the job, and if you can get the job, you can do it too.
Please leave a comment on any other tips or interview questions you may have.