Job interviewing fears
Interview fears and how to get over them
Interviewing can be scary. You’re meeting strangers, your self worth is in question, and your future income hangs in the balance of this one conversation. So let’s talk through some of the top interview fears and what you can do to combat them.
Common job interview fears
“What will I get asked?”
Most interview questions are NOT unique. There’s “where do you see yourself in 5 years” “tell me about a time…” “what makes you want to work for us” and maybe even “describe your greatest weakness.” It’s all pretty copy/paste until they ask you specific questions about your experience. This fear of ambiguity can best be combatted by practice: look up a list of common interview questions and practice how you’ll answer them. Then have a friend or family member practice interviewing you. Here’s a good list of common interview questions.
“What if they’re judging me?”
In short: yes they are—that’s their job. The best thing you can do is take practice interviews with friends and family members and then ask for honest feedback. How do I seem? Did I say the right thing? Would you hire me? Taking this feedback itself can take some practice: but in general:
- Ask open ended questions intended to simulate conversation and reflection
- Listen to what they say without defending yourself or seeking to provide additional justification
- Move past the cheerleading “you did a great job” and onto the critical feedback
“What if they don’t like me?”
If you make it to the interview, most likely the recruiters/hiring managers have assessed that you’re basically able to do the job. Often they’re seeking to confirm these opinions and then screen you for “culture fit,” which is basically how much they like you or think their team will like you. In general my advice is: smile, make good eye contact if you’re able, and seek to find personal commonalities.
“What if I get nervous?”
Most people will get nervous in the interview. I’ve seen people break down in tears or use the bathroom to vomit. However, realize that the interviewers are probably empathetic people. Politely explain that you’re feeling nervous, do the best you can, and your interviewers will try to give you the benefit of the doubt.
“What if I’m late?”
Preparation is key. Don’t be too late, or too early—I recommend being about 5 minutes early. If you get there before that, go for a quick walk around the block. Look up the route on Google Maps, plan for traffic, and have a backup plan in case the worst happens.
“What if I say the wrong thing?”
It’s important to realize that in this instance, saying the wrong thing is better than saying nothing. If you never apply or ghost on your interview, you are effectively saying nothing. If you say the wrong thing, you might still get hired. If you say nothing, you definitely won’t get hired.
Final Word: Just Show Up
Showing up and doing the interview, no matter how badly it goes, still gives you a shot at getting the job. You might be nervous or uncomfortable, but showing up is half of the battle. The worst thing you can do is GHOST them.