Stress- Real problems during an interview

Confusion and stress

If you find yourself getting confused or lost during an interview, it's not uncommon, but it is a problem, and there's a way around it.

The reasons for confusion are fairly simple.

Sometimes the stream of questions gets people disoriented. Sometimes they're just not prepared for the questions. In many cases people who are working on high workloads or under pressure find they aren't following the questions.

These are all stress issues, and they have to be considered to be real problems.

Stress has a bad habit of taking effect when you least need it. It makes interviews a lot tougher than they would be, otherwise.

The obvious result is to blow the interview.

That, naturally, means interviewees get more stressed as they realize they're not doing well. It's a sad sight, watching someone who knows they're in the process of making a mess of a question.

However- it is fixable.

Minor stress

Minor stress is normal, and just requires some readjustments.

There are a few things you can do:

Slow the interview down by asking for clarification as you make your points. This allows you to get your thoughts organized, and to listen to what you're saying more alertly.

The question is How do you handle difficult customers?

You're very experienced, but this is an open ended question, because the job is all about customer service in various roles as a shop assistant in an auto repair shop, and there are some technical issues you're expected to know. There's a possibility of doing a rather lame answer.

So you say-

I need to make sure I'm answering the question properly, here. We deal with a lot of statutory things like roadworthy issues, as well as warranties, and other work. Do you want me to cover these?

This has the advantage of getting you more information, and isolating the topics. The question really is very broad, in context with the job.

Another question: How do you solve problems on the job? Can you give us an example?

Of course you can, but you've also just been asked How long is a piece of string, in some ways. This is a question where you're entitled to select your own subject, but with problem solving questions, there are a few basic requirements, one of which is to give a relevant example to the employer.

You had an example in mind, but after ten previous questions it seems to have melted into the haze of questions and answers. You need time to think, and you don't want to just blunder into the first thing that comes into your head.

You say:

Do you want an example covering any particular issues or situations, or can I just give you a sort of case study of a problem I had on the job?

This gives you some time and some more information again, but it also allows the interviewers to be specific, which is, of course, very useful. The minute you hear any particular subject about your work, your working reflexes will kick in, and you'll be reoriented to the question.

Note: In many cases the questions are standard, but vague, like this. The interviewers aren't really doing the employer any favors by asking broad brush questions, and should be pinning down specific skills.

After all, you're there to prove you can do the job, not if you're a good game show entrant. If you find the questions vague, it's because they're not structured very well.

WARNING Major stress- Serious problems at interviews

Major stress is quite different from the normal interview stresses. Some people actually have panic attacks during interviews. These are very serious episodes. Medically, they're dangerous. The huge rush of adrenalin can cause heart palpitations, as well as mental and physical dysfunction. Sufferers can barely breathe, in some cases.

Some other medical conditions, like depression, or other issues, including allergies, can also make a real mess of an interviewee.

Under these conditions, if you're having problems, tell the interviewers immediately.

Do not attempt to proceed with the interview.

If you're prone to any condition where these things are possible, play safe.

Don't risk your health.

You'll probably be able to reschedule the interview under these conditions, and get proper attention to whatever's causing the problems.

Career issues: When to call for help, If interviews generally are confusing you

The common wisdom for people who are continually failing at interviews is practice interviews, and for once the common wisdom is quite right.

Familiarity with the interview environment isn't easy to get. Most people don't get enough interviews to get anything like familiar. They get lost and confused because they barely know how to begin. Often this is due to inadequate training.

The general training in the workplace works for about 80% of people, as a very rough ballpark figure, but many simply don't get the necessary level of attention to their own specific problems.

Extremely important: Many people have quite serious difficulties in their early interviews. This can become a real problem, preventing employment, and if you feel you're dysfunctional at interviews, you do need to get some help with the problem.

Counselors and trainers can do wonders, and you'll find them supportive and good at ironing out the really tough bits. You'll become far more fluent, and your confidence will be greatly improved. It might feel like it takes forever to get some actual skill and interview techniques operating, but it's really a result of your mind adjusting to the scenarios.

We can't emphasize this enough:

Do not allow yourself to continue to fail at interviews.

If you have problems, find them and fix them.

Confusion at interviews isn't the end of the world, but it's a quite unnecessary experience, and you don't need to put yourself through the torture for nothing.

Learn how to cope with the questions properly, research your interview questions and learn your techniques properly.

Get help, if you need it, immediately.

Everybody has had some sort of problem with job interviews. All problems can be solved, if you make the effort to solve them.

We can help, and your trainers, HR people, and professional counsellors can help. If you have an employment agent, or job network, they can also help.

There's a whole industry here, ready to help when you need it.