Do you have a social work interview scheduled soon? Do you tend to feel anxious and/or nervous as soon as you have a job interview planned?
If yes, please feel assured that you are not alone.
In fact, I am addressing this topic today because several of you have asked for help about how to cope with interview jitters...
What Is Anxiety?
We are all born with an automatic biological "fight or flight" response in order to be able to face or escape various dangerous situations (Mohsin & Wahab, 2013). In other words, anxiety is our body's normal physical response to a perceived threat or danger.
While being evaluated for a prospective new job is not a life-threatening danger, many of us find the whole job search process anxiety-provoking, particularly the interview... (Macan,T., 2009; McCarthy & Goffin, 2004).
As per Mohsin & Wahab (2013), you are more likely to feel stressed about a situation if you feel that you lack the necessary resources to meet its demands. However, if you perceive your resources to be greater than the required demands, you know that you will be able to handle the situation and you will not experience anxiety.
Major Confidence Booster: Adequate Preparation
- In other words, the more prepared you are for your interview, the more confident you are going to feel about your interview (and therefore, the less anxious)!
How Can You Be Fully Prepared?
- Read Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter's 10 valuable tips to be fully prepared for your next interview in Alleviating Job Interview Pressure.
- Review the 20 Interview Questions Every Social Worker Needs to Know [be prepared to answer all the ones that feel relevant to you]
As per Jacqui, the mere fact that you have a meeting scheduled should give you plenty of confidence for a successful interview!
- Employ the powerful STAR technique to answer some of these questions as Hannah Morgan explains in Do You Shine During Your Interview?
- Check out Miriam Salpeter's How to win the job – interviewing with passion. < Make sure that you use your engagement skills to connect with the interviewer to make him/her like you...
What Are Some Additional Strategies You Can Employ?
- Taking Control of Your Thoughts
- Various Relaxation Strategies
Taking Control of Your Thoughts
Another method for controlling anxiety can be via cognitive behavioral therapy. The underlying theme in this school of thought [no pun intended] is that thoughts cause feelings (McKay, Davis & Fanning, 2007).
In other words, an event in of itself has no emotional content but rather it is your interpretation of an event that causes your emotions or feelings about that event.Example A:
Event: I just missed the subway train.
Thought: You interpret the event by saying to yourself: Oh, no, this is awful. I'll be late.
Feeling: You experience an emotion that correlates with your thoughts... i.e., in this example, you feel anxious and worried about being late.
However, by changing the thought, you can change the feeling...
Event: Same as above
Thought: You interpret the event this time by thinking: That's ok. There will be another train in a few more minutes.
Feeling: You no longer feel anxious; now you feel relaxed and mild annoyance at most.
In the below table, I've applied this theory to the job interview scenario... On the left column, are some examples of fears that you may have and in the right column are some examples of some alternative [positive] coping thoughts that you could choose to employ so as to feel more confident and less anxious (McKay, Davis & Fanning, 2007).
Various Relaxation Strategies
Try one or more of the following activities in the days/weeks before your interview (Mohsin & Wahab, 2013):
- Breathing Exercises/Meditation
- Getting a massage
- Engaging in visualization [i.e., visualize having a successful interview experience]
- Taking a hot bath
- Listening to music
- Spending time with loved ones
- Playing with a pet
HeartMath's "Notice and Ease" breathing exercise [please repeat several times daily]:
- Notice and admit what you are feeling
- Try to name the most prominent, unwanted feeling you are experiencing
- Ease as you focus your breathe on your heart...relax as you breathe... and ease the stress [unwanted feeling] out of your body...
Regularly employing a breathing exercise can truly help with anxiety. Several months ago, I had started feeling intense anxiety in my chest after receiving very bad news about the progression of my mother's cancer. [For the epilogue, see The Circle of Life]
I couldn't make the painful feeling go away despite the fact that I meditated regularly. Marianna Paulson [a HeartMath trained expert in transforming stress] kindly taught me a breathing exercise which I added to my daily routine. I'm not sure how long it took but it ultimately relieved the anxiety I had felt :)Meditation
Below are some posts and/or sources for meditations that you can listen to. I see meditation as a gift that keeps on giving... it has the potential to help you with anxiety, focus, emotional intelligence and more.
Meditation and Stress Management - provides you with a nice introduction to meditation
The Power of Meditation - shows you how meditation is but one necessary component of the healthy mind platter we need to have for overall health and well-being
10 Take-Aways from Workshop on Neuroscience, Meditation & Health includes links to a few free meditations
http://pinterest.com/dorleem/meditation/ links to free meditations and/or meditation-related articlesSummary: To tame your job interview anxiety beast: prepare for your interview(s), take control of your thoughts and use at least one of the suggested relaxation strategies mentioned above.
*Anxiety is often triggered because of a misperception on our part; we may view demands as being greater than they actually are or we may view our resources as being more deficient than called for, or a combination of both misperceptions (Mohsin & Wahab, 2013).
HeartMath Eliminating Anxiety ebook (2006).
Macan,T. (2009).The employment interview: A review of current studies and directions for future re- search. Human Resource Management Review, 19, 203–218.
McCarthy, J., & Goffin, R. (2004). Measuring job interview anxiety: Beyond weak knees and sweaty palms. Personnel Psychology, 57, 607-637.