Reduce Interview Anxiety

Interview with Dr. Paul Powers Author of the book 'Winning Job Interviews: Reduce Interview Anxiety'

1. How prevalent is job interview anxiety? Does it lessen with practice and can you get 'too good?'

Interview anxiety is part and parcel of any interview. Expecting it deprives it of the surprise (and, sometimes, immobilization) that it can cause. In fact, if you have no anxiety about an interview it either means youre applying for a job that may be below your level of talent or aspirations or that youre over confidant. Yes, practice (in both real interviews and in practice sessions) helps but remember, a little anxiety is a good thing because it keeps you sharp and alert. Ive never heard anybody say that they thought they were too good but I have had interviewers say a candidate sounded nonchalant or that he or she gave answer that sounded pre-packaged. These are things to look out for.

2. What is one of the worst things about job hunting?

My gosh - how much time do we have?? Heres a few:

  • It takes too long.
  • You often do it when concerned about household finances
  • You have to ask for help.
  • It may be your #1 priority but that is not so for others. (I.e. external & internal recruiters, H.R. folks, your references, your network, the rest of the world.)
  • Deserving a good job has nothing to do with your ability to find a good job.
  • It requires blowing your own horn.
  • It requires non-entrepreneurs to behave like successful entrepreneurs.
  • It requires non-salespeople to behave like successful salespeople.
  • It brings out ones insecurities.
  • Theres usually no control over the timing.
  • People less talented than you will get jobs you should have landed because they are better job hunters than you are.
  • The job-hunting process is essentially about rejection.
  • It is lonely and isolating.

Other than that its just one great big bowl of cherries!

(Chapter 1 of WJI is Why Job Hunting Sucks - and what to do about it and shows how to overcome each of the above.)

3. Can the job seeker guide references into providing the kind of information that the prospective employer might want to have?

They can and they must. You must prep your references about what job you have applied for, why you think youre a great fit for it and what you hope they will say. And you must do this every time you give out their names.

4. One of your chapters mentions calamities. Can you give an example from your practice?

Job candidates often rate common, small mistakes as major calamities because they want everything to be perfect. These small glitches can usually be covered with an Excuse me, what I mean to say was . . . I have had candidates share interview stories of getting a nosebleed, getting nauseous, tipping over a plant stand, and, one of my personal faves, saying he knew and really liked the interviewers ex-wife. It is not so much about the calamity as the grace and aplomb you show when dealing with it.

5. Who makes the first move in closing the deal? Does it matter how far up the food chain you are as far as the amount of control you can get in an interview?

The candidate can start the closing process by uncovering and addressing any potential objections to his/her candidacy and by clearly expressing a desire to be hired. But - and this is irrespective of your level - you cant say I do until somebody has proposed!

6. How does someone fresh out of college come across as being more accomplished?

By being more accomplished. Show how the jobs (paid and volunteer) youve held have taught you valuable skills and educated you about the realities of the workplace. Sweeping a warehouse - good. Organizing other tutors - good. Creative fund raising for a charity you value - good. Being beer pong champion - bad.

7. How does a job seeker talk about a negative job experience without sounding like a loser?

  • By avoiding it if you can.
  • If you cant avoid it, describe the situation in a professional, unemotional manner where you refuse to speak negatively of anyone else and share what you learned from the experience.

8. You mention loving the job. How does the job seeker end up loving the job? Is it all about attitude or is there more to it?

  • By having a realistic idea of what loving your job means. Heres my description: loving most of what you do, on most of the days you do it.
  • By knowing what jobs suit you and hunting for those as opposed to trying to sell yourself into something that doesnt suit you.
  • Never underestimate attitude. A cheerful, positive, motivational attitude that infects everyone around you is not only a powerful success tool; it is a gift to all around you colleagues and because of it they will propel you upward.

One bricklayer said I lay brick, I build buildings. Another said I use my talent and skills to create practical, solid and beautiful things that reach into the sky and that will still stand here - still solid and still beautiful - long after Im gone. Which one would you hire? Which one would you want to be?

9. You have a keen wit about you. How does wit play a part in a job interview? Is there such a thing as too much levity?

A job interview is serious business. Youre not there to yuk it up unless youre auditioning at a comedy club. However, nobody wants to hire a sourpuss either. A little bit of humor can smooth over a rough spot or help you if you lose your way for a moment or even help you describe a difficult situation. Humor is a powerful tool but must be used appropriately, delicately, (and in the job interview) rarely.

10. Is there anything else that you would want to leave with the readers of this website?

Job hunting and job interviewing isnt anything that you will do frequently enough to get really great at. Being human, you will make some mistakes along the way- no big deal! Learn from them and move on. And remember, the era of the parental Im looking out for you employer is long gone. The management of your career and the success you will achieve is all in your hands. Accept that challenge and you will succeed.

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