"What if I bomb in my job interview next week?" is a common fear. The anticipation of being sized-up for a role you covet can cause big-time jitters. Your concern, when allowed to grow unchecked, can in turn cause interview failure.
Recognizing and acknowledging your anxieties is the first step to dealing with them and paving the way for your success. Here are seven tips for tackling job interview jitters:
1. Remember who you are. Sure, you're a job hunter and that puts you in a position of some vulnerability. But don't let that be your predominating identity. First and foremost, think of yourself as a professional person. You might be an engineer, teacher, salesperson or whatever else. At this moment in time, you just happen to be looking for a new employment status. Don't let "job hunter" become your primary identity.
2. Remember why you are being interviewed. There is a very good reason why you have gained the opportunity to interview: Someone in authority has looked at your credentials and imagined that you might well be a good fit for the role you seek.
You have a right to be in the interview because you earned it. You present value to the other person and his or her company. Rather than being intimidated, feel validated for what you have done so far.
3. Remember the interviewer's needs. The very fact of a job opening's existence points to some problem confronting an employer. Something isn't getting done, and that hampers the company from fulfilling its goals. Every day that the problem isn't on its way to being solved with a new hire, it can fester and make life more uncomfortable for the hiring authority.
Your interviewer is meeting with you to learn more about you, and chances are good he or she hopes that you represent the answer to the employer's problems.
4. Remember that you are the ultimate expert on yourself. You enter an interview with a certain amount of authority. You alone possess certain facts. Your task is to share that self-knowledge in a way that portrays you as the answer to the employer's problem. You don't need to do it with haughtiness. You do need to present the facts that one by one build and bolster your case.
If you take the time to reflect about your work history and well prepare, you can enter any interview with a significant measure of self-confidence.
5. Anticipate what you might encounter, and rehearse how you will deal with it. Articles and books abound to help you anticipate many of the questions you are likely to encounter. You can minimize your fear of the situation by practicing out loud how you would respond. Above all, be prepared for the almost invariable first question: "Tell me about yourself."
6. What's the worst thing that can happen? Often, people are fearful, without figuring out why or what could really go wrong. In a job interview, the worst outcome is most likely that you won't get the job.
But step back from that a moment. Yes, it really might be the ideal opportunity that you've dreamed about. But, chances are also good that it isn't the only job for which you can be considered, and that other opportunities currently exist or will show up. The way the world works, no job is likely to ever be the last job to post in a given field or location.
If you re-frame the "worst" outcome, you can de-mystify its negative effects. Even if you bomb the interview, it can be a learning experience. You can then figure out what you might have done better. That insight coupled with corrective measures can put you in an even better position for success the next time. Just maybe "the worst" isn't catastrophic.
When you de-mystify the importance of any given interview, you can treat it with the seriousness it deserves, but avoid paralyzing fear that can itself cause failure.
7. Give yourself permission to succeed. It is important to envision what success would look like. Imagine yourself in your new role. Think about what you would hope to accomplish in the first day, month, six months and year. Imagine that you already have the job, and begin to make a plan for how you would handle your responsibilities and meet your new goals.
When you can visualize yourself as a success, you can enable your interviewer to see you that way as well. And when that happens, you boost your chances of getting the job.
To be sure, there is a lot to be fearful about as a job hunter. Yet when you begin to identify and deal with your fears, you enable yourself to put them to rest. And when you envision your success, you can create the self-fulfilling prophecy that leads to your next paycheck.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.