Tongue-Tied? How to Tackle Interview Anxiety
Job Interview Stress? Heck yes! That’s normal.
If you are feeling tongue-tied during a job interview, you are not alone. Most people are a little nervous during a job interview, especially those with social anxiety. This article highlights techniques anyone can use to tackle interview anxiety and keep the conversation on the right track.
Most people have experienced some stage fright in their lives. A case of the jitters is common when speaking to managers or clients, test-taking, during a group Zoom interview, or even during an introductory screening phone call. Anxiety can rattle the cages of experienced public speakers and nervous amateur presenters alike.
For those with social anxiety, the butterflies in the stomach are amplified during a job interview. It can feel like a cruel experiment of being judged by strangers who determine whether they are “good enough” based on limited information and the all-important first impression. Because of this, people with social anxiety can feel disadvantaged compared with people who are more at ease in social situations.
People who experience stress in social situations often rely on learned methods or practices to navigate a world that is unaccommodating to them. While coping mechanisms may have varying levels of effectiveness depending on the individual and the situation, there are techniques to reduce awkward feelings through calming methods and positive self-talk.
Let’s explore some influential methods of dispelling social anxiety and how they can assist you in preparing for a job interview.
Kick Anxiety to the Curb with these Methods
The Sharpay Evans Method
Even if you aren’t a fan of the “High School Musical” movie trilogy, you can imagine who Sharpay Evans is — an over-the-top overconfident high school diva, complete with a pink feather boa, a blindingly bright wardrobe, and a flair for the dramatics. The Sharpay Evans Method is meant to give you a significant confidence boost by psyching yourself up.. Sometimes, the best way to conquer the fear of feeling embarrassed is by letting yourself act silly. So, do your best and craziest Sharpay Evans theater warm-up in the mirror.
- Let yourself be silly.
- Get the jitters out. Let yourself be LOUD!
- Strike a pose and let out your inner Sharpay.
Next, it’s time for your Sharpay Evans pep talk. First, tell yourself how worthy you are. Give yourself the confidence you need and deserve. And then, clue yourself in on the universal secret: failure is never the end. If this interview doesn’t work out for you, it is not the world’s end. The Sharpay Evans Method is guaranteed to get your bodily anxiety out and give you the boost you need to confidently walk into the virtual or in-person interview room.
The Jack Sparrow Method
Perhaps the trickiest part of being in a social situation is not feeling comfortable in your skin. When this happens, try jumping into someone else’s skin. First, think of someone who exudes the kind of confidence and swagger you want, even if it’s a fictional character. A great example is Jack Sparrow, the protagonist of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Then, think about the qualities that person has that convince you of their confidence (i.e., their body language, mannerisms, speech patterns, etc.). Sometimes, the best way to develop a sense of confidence is to personify someone that embodies the spirit and self-confidence you are looking for. It helps you get out of your head and stop hyper-fixating on what you look like to others. Go with the ‘method actor’ approach, which we’ll call The Jack Sparrow Method.
Walk into the room and give the interviewer your best Jack Sparrow impression of confidence. Think of it as a bit of performance. You are performing the act of being as confident as Jack Sparrow. Of course, try not to become so focused on the performance that you forget to be yourself. Instead, adopt just enough of a persona to convince yourself that in that moment you are a confident individual. You’ll find that the longer you pretend, the less pretending you’ll do.
The Sherlock Holmes Method
Of course, method acting isn’t for everyone; one thing that benefits all is preparation. This next method allows you to go into full detective mode. The Sherlock Holmes Method is nearly exactly what it sounds like — it’s the act of investigating until you feel you have enough information to make a move. Read up on the company you are interviewing for. Check out their digital presence. Do they have social media? What is their vibe? Some larger companies even have anonymous reviews on sites such as Glassdoor. See what former employees have to say.
If you know who is interviewing you, it’s never a bad idea to look them up as well. Research enough to give yourself a sense of what working at the company might look like and what the interviewer might expect from you beyond simply what the job description states. And then, if you’re still a little nervous, research some more. There is no limit to the information you can find. Learning more about the job you’re applying for, the company, and its people will allow you to prepare questions demonstrating your expertise and diligence. There is no such thing as being too prepared; ask Mr. Holmes.
Believe in Yourself
Social anxiety during interviews can be challenging to navigate. It can convince you that you don’t belong at the company you’re interviewing with, but this could not be farther from the truth. You have so much to offer, and no amount of anxiety will change that.
If you find yourself getting nervous or uncomfortable during the job interview, ask your interviewer if you could have a few moments to breathe. There is nothing wrong with asking your potential employer to give you the space to put your best foot forward.
These methods are helpful, but the most effective way for social anxiety is just permitting yourself to reground and regroup. If you need an extra boost of confidence, remember that it takes superhero strength to carry yourself in the world with social anxiety. And that makes you a superhero.
Bonus: What Not to Say
We’ve all been there when we said too little or too much, specifically when most of our sentences begin with the infamous word, “Um.” To recruiters, hearing ums and uhs from candidates could mean they’re not as confident about their descriptions. Filler words reflect hesitation, and they create room for doubt.
In addition to avoiding common filler words, some people adopt crutch word and phrases. For example, “to be honest,” “obviously,” “basically,” “well,” “like,” “literally,” “you know,” or “as a matter of fact.” It’s helpful to have a friend who can help you become aware of your go-to filler words and crutch phrases. Then, as you learn to self-monitor, you can begin to consciously replace them with intentional pauses or by taking a slower, more deliberate pace.
To prevent you from saying the wrong thing in an interview, practice these steps:
- Acknowledge and thank the recruiter for asking their question. This gives you a couple of seconds to collect your thoughts before answering.
- Spend three seconds breathing and preparing what you’re about to say. This reduces the chances of you beginning your sentence with a filler word.
- Don’t rush your answer; take your time. The recruiter can then collect what you’re saying and take notes.
You’ll nail each sentence on the head during your interview by putting these practices in place.
Here are other things you should refrain from saying during an interview:
- Saying anything negative about a previous employer or job.
- Asking about benefits, pay, or vacation time before receiving an offer.
- Saying, “It’s on my resume.”
- Asking what the company does; instead, research the company and be prepared to ask a clarification question that’s a deeper dive into what they do, who they serve and the company’s vision for the future.
- Not having questions prepared and responding, “I don’t have any questions.”
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