Overcoming the Fear of Interviews

Community Manager
Community Manager


I have a friend who is one of the toughest, fiercest, no-nonsense employees I’ve ever worked with in my career. On any conference call, nothing gets by this person. If a manager gives a wimpy answer to a direct question, expect this co-worker to fact-check the answer. Delay in your response to their request? Expect a prompt call-back and a get a professionally-delivered admonishment. In other words, bring your “A” game!


But this same person has an honest fear. In this case, it’s the fear of clowns. I can only imagine the level of fear this person has these days with the recent reports of clown sightings in various parts of the country. It must be truly troubling.


What about the fear of Interviews?


Interviews can be somewhat fear-inducing for some people. Imagine being on the receiving end of my friend’s behaviors in a clown-free corporate setting. In an interview setting however, would you be ready for a person that’s tough, fierce, and no-nonsense? Would you stand your ground and maintain your cool in the event a direct question or fact-check about your past comes up? If you hesitate, stutter, or trip on your words, can you take what’s coming from that tough interviewer?


Overcoming the fear of interviews can be summed up with a few simple tips. Let’s call these “The 5Ps for Overcoming Fear of Interviews”:


Prepare Yourself


Make no mistake about it; you absolutely need to prepare yourself for the interview. There’s a lot of competition these days and you must take the time to fully prepare. You need to know the ins & outs of the company, the hiring manager, the trends, the future, and yourself. If you need to ask how much you need to prepare, you’re probably not preparing enough.


Pace Yourself


Sometimes interviews seem like a fast-paced ping pong match. The Interviewer serves a question, you answer. They add some spin, you respond. They pop a high-level situation at you, and then you quickly respond in kind. If people were watching, they’d swivel their heads back & forth as you continue to volley. Check yourself to see that you’re taking adequate time to fully answer interview questions. Remember, it’s not speed dating!


Professionalize Yourself


Your interview goals should include leaving the impression that you already work at the company. You do this by getting intimately dialed-in to the fabric of the company you’re interviewing for. Setting up informational interviews, watching Ted Talks from industry leaders, joining relevant groups on LinkedIn, and networking for the sake of improving your professionalism specific to the industry you wish to work in is essential.


Paint Yourself Into An Intersection, Not A Corner


The answers you provide during interviews should paint the picture that you’re the right fit for the organization. The depth to which you know the company, know yourself, and know exactly how you can make an immediate impact is critical. What you say and demonstrate in an interview needs to meet at the intersection of the road the company travels on, not the self-serving, “square peg/round hole”, “I can do anything” persona responses we must avoid at all costs – that which paints us into a corner.


Participate – It’s Not Just About You!


Remember, an interview is essentially a dialogue between your and the representatives of the company you wish to work for. An interview is not only about your chance to speak, such as our favorite late night comedians do during their opening monologues. You need to remain conversational and not confrontational. You need to participate in the interview and be in the moment. Ideally, you’ll be less robotic and show you have a pulse and would be cool to work with. Again, while you want to keep it real and stay genuine, each company has its own culture that you may or may not fit into, but being an active participant in the interview will help reveal whether or not this is the right fit for both parties.


Overcoming fear during interviews is something you have the power to do. All the best and continued success during your next interview!


Have something to add to this post? Share your advice below.