Surviving Funemployment: How to prepare for interviews if you are socially anxious
How do you mentally prepare for interviews if you hate it, get nervous, and think it’s torturous!? Whether you over or under-prepare for interviews, some of you may feel like you’re still missing the bull’s eye… and perhaps you’re always drained from the feeling of rejection or from the process itself.
Developing a power mindset can help you feel good about the journey… even when you don’t have any offers in hand. Based on personal experience, I am going to share how you can go from a place of hopelessness—barely getting any interviews—to landing multiple job offers at once.
Believe that YOU have all the power in an interview
In an interview, you as a candidate have all the power. Whatever you tell the interviewer, they will need to take it at face value. You know yourself best—that’s why confidence is everything. If you weren’t qualified from the beginning, they wouldn’t have wasted their valuable time interviewing you in the first place (remember that ghosting is the norm and HR doesn’t usually take the time to send you a rejection email). If you’re in the interview, it means they think you can do the job. You just need to prove that you’re the best fit for the team.
Remember that both sides need to make a positive impression on each other
Oftentimes, you may feel like you are the only one with a lot to prove in an interview. Well, keep in mind that the employer also needs to impress you and make you want to work for them. Going into an interview with this mindset makes you come across more confident. You have the right to ask questions to learn more about the role and company, and you may even find your interviewers trying to sell you on the opportunity instead of the other way around. Don’t think of the interview as an interrogation, think of it as a conversation where both sides are trying to get to know each other.
Rejection is redirection
Try not to take any rejections personally. Practice doing this because it’s tough! Remind yourself that your self worth is not measured by the volume of job offers or rejections you get—you are so much more than that. If you get rejected, it’s likely because the job isn’t a good fit for you at this moment! It may become a better fit in the future, or you may find a better fit with another role or company. Ask for feedback so you know how to become more competitive, thank them for taking the time to consider you for the opportunity, and keep this relationship going because you never know when a better opportunity can pop up!
At the end of the day, the interview is a conversation between you and a prospective employer. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the role, company, and see if you’re still interested in each other. Don’t get too attached to one role or company. It’s not life or death. Tell yourself that everything will still be OK even if you don’t get an offer. Be yourself and remember that your interviewers are human too. Instead of being stiff and serious, try smiling and making small talk to make both sides comfortable. Tell them about the Barbie movie you watched or the brunch you ate with friends. Be curious about them too and give them a chance to share a bit about themselves!
Be calm and patient with your answers
It’s OK if you stutter, make a mistake, or lose your train of thought. Just smile, pause, and don’t be afraid to say “whoops, I lost my train of thought! Give me a second to think about where I wanted to go with that answer.” Having these phrases handy for sticky situations can help relieve the pressure of being perfect. If a question stumps you, or you need some time to think, just say so and ask for clarification! You should be pausing a few seconds before answering anyways… but if you need more than a few seconds, then reach over to grab a drink of your water and then put it down slowly. Avoid scripting all your interview responses because it can sound unnatural and make you feel even more nervous if you don’t hit every single point. Instead, list out some bullet points and improvise like you would in a normal conversation.
Give yourself positive affirmation
Before the interview, roll your shoulders back, shake out your body, stretch, do power poses, and say positive affirmations out loud. Scream to get out your nervous energy, hype yourself up, put on an energetic song from Lizzo and sing out loud to! You need to make an active effort to fight against negative or unproductive thoughts. Don’t be afraid to look yourself in the mirror and say out loud (or in your head) that…
- You are the best candidate for this role.
- The company would be lucky to hire you because…
- You are excited to talk about how your skills and experience align to the role.
- You feel prepared, you’ve done your research, and you will do great.
Show up and be present (especially in virtual interviews)
Instead of splitting up your screen between the conference call and your interview notes, print everything off (resume, job posting, notes, questions for the interviewer, etc) and make your conference call full-screen so you can focus on the interviewer. Physically stand up during your interviews because it helps you project your voice and confidence better. When you’re sitting down, your diaphragm is compressed so you get less oxygen. Angle your screen so you’re looking slightly downward at it, which puts you in a position of strength rather than vulnerability. Smiling is also important because it makes your brain happier and also makes you appear warmer to the interviewer.
Always follow up and say thanks
Whether you bombed the interview or not, follow up with a thank you note within a couple of days! It demonstrates your professionalism, and it can keep the door open for new opportunities if this role doesn’t end up working out. Even if you happen to be the interviewer’s first choice, not following up can be a red flag… so don’t forget!