Do Job Interviews Get You Frazzled? Exhale!

It pains me when I see job seekers get stressed out at interview time. One way to ease the anxiety is to understand the pressures on the interviewer. This post that I wrote in 2010 does just that.  

Amazing, how a job interview can make our blood run cold.

Our ego, sense of self, and value get all tied up in being picked. Our brains gear up wildly to compete, to be the winner!

I spent a lot of years as a functional hiring manager for a Fortune 500 energy company. The people I hired either worked for me or for departmental colleagues. As a consultant, I still help clients screen resumes and interview.

Over the years, I’ve hired over 100 candidates myself or as part of selection teams. I thought you should know that, so you’ll believe this:

More often than not, the person interviewing you is in a major squeeze and feelin’ it! 

Yes, the interviewer, not just you, is feeling the pressure. S/he has a position to fill and chances are it’s been open for longer than anyone would like. That means work isn’t getting done, other staff are picking up the slack, and the manager is feeling the pinch. Someone is undoubtedly squawking. This reality works in your favor, so relax.

4 Things to Remember When You Sit Down for the Interview 

Curb your nerves by focusing on the needs of the interviewer and not yourself. Here’s why and how:

1. The interviewer is desperately hoping that you are the right person for the job.

That means the interviewer is rooting for you. They want you to do well. They are hoping beyond hope that you will mean the end of their search. They really want you to be the candidate they’ve been looking for, so you will make them a winner.

2. Your interviewer wants you to relax, so s/he can relax. 

Interviewing isn’t easy. It means asking the right questions, gathering the right information, assessing you correctly, and representing the company positively so you’ll want to work there if chosen. If you’re a visible wreck, you will be a distraction and will take the fun out of the process for the interviewer and yourself.

3. The interviewer will be grateful for anything you do to make the process go smoothly.

If you approach the interview generously and focus on meeting the needs of the interviewer for crisp and clear answers, you’ll showcase your skills as a communicator and team player. This means being prepared and asking the interviewer if s/he has gotten the needed information.

4. The interviewer wants the conversation with you to be enjoyable. 

Interviewing is tedious unless the candidate takes the monotony out of it. A candidate with an appropriate sense of humor, a relaxed but alert demeanor, and the ability to use the questions as a way to engage in dialogue about the job is a godsend. That will be you!

You can’t be more than you are. 

You can’t hire yourself for the job. But you can showcase your business fitness by explaining what you know, the skills you have, and the experiences you’ve banked. Trying to oversell yourself or to compete with candidates you don’t even know is the death knell.

When you get hired for a job, you’re committing to a relationship with the hiring manager and the company. It’s the job of the interviewer to decide whether or not you and the company are a good fit.

So be patient and be yourself.

Candidate selection isn’t just about the interview. 

A lot goes into final hiring decisions and it’s not always about you and your interview. That’s another reason to leave your nerves at home.

Photo from Michelle Ranson via Flickr

8 thoughts on “Do Job Interviews Get You Frazzled? Exhale!

  1. Dawn,
    Very interesting article on interviewing and both sides of the process. It is amazing that being yourself and not a nervous Nellie is the key. Yes we must be prepared for an interview but the real you so far as abilities and personality are paramount. I find a little bit of humor goes a long way as long as it is appropriate and that humor will often put both people at ease. We are who we are and to project anything else just does not work. I loved the article.

    • Great comment, Lee. I love your don’t be a “nervous Nellie” point and the fact that being prepared is how we begin to overcome that tendency. I couldn’t agree with you more about “a little bit of humor” that goes a long way. There’s no better way to cut the tension than with a light quip that’s appropriate and humanizing. Always wonderful to hear from you. ~Dawn

  2. It also helps to remember that the interviewer may be worried about the entire process as well. He or she wants to find a suitable candidate as soon as possible, and he or she is hoping that you’re it so the search is over and done with. No interviewer wants interviewees to fail.

    • Susan, we’re sure on the same page about the interviewer be worried about the interview process. So much is at stake in finding the right person. Step one is a candidate who’s a winner interviewer and step two is that the candidate turns out to be a great employee. Thanks for commenting. ~Dawn

  3. Sage advice as usual. I once interviewed a person who had been an HR Manager for an entry level HR position. She was terrified that I would think she wanted my job which, for succession planning, would have been great. She was very fidgety and stuttered her answers. I had a hard time believing that she could actually run a department. Her discomfort about something that didn’t matter cost her the job. The point, which you identified here, is to focus on the job and how you can do it and not on what may or may not be going on in the interviewer’s head! All they want to do is get the best candidate for the job.

    • Loved your example, Kate. Your observation about the candidate’s obvious discomfort in the meeting as ultimately a deal breaker is sound advice for others. You’re so right; it’s all about telling your story and letting the chips fall where they may. The key for all of us is never get too far ahead of ourselves in anything we do. Thanks, ~Dawn

    • Hey, Kathy, so glad you liked the post. As you are well aware through your work, we often get so tied up on ourselves and what we want that we forget to put ourselves in another’s shoes. That’s sure the case with interviews. If the candidate can put the interviewer at ease, s/he gets the interview off to the kind of start that will likely lead to an offer. Great to hear from you.

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