The other day I was sent the Word of the Day by a friend. It was Anatidaephobia. Before you race to Google it, I’ll save you the time. Anatidaephobia is defined as a pervasive, irrational fear that one is being watched by a duck.
(I vowed to get that into a sentence or a conversation some time in the future and as it turns out, this is it).
Seeing there is a word for such an irrational fear, it only seemed right that there was a phobia about interviews or interviewing. After all, everyone sees interviews as a sort of necessary evil; something you have to do and excel at to get where you want to be (the preferred candidate who is offered the job of your dreams).
My extensive research (five minutes spent on Google) yielded nothing in the irrational fear category for interviews, so that gives me a certain freedom to make the word up. I’ll call it multi-convo-struck-dumb-y-ess. Or Multiconvostruckdumbyness for short. (Let’s hope you don’t suffer from Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. Look it up!)
This irrational fear has been known to strike the most competent, professional executives with world-class achievements on the global stage just as much as a graduate seeking his or her first employment opportunity and all people in between. Perhaps the fear is because there’s so much riding on interviews being successful… the larger salary, the gateway to management, the opportunity to escape a miserable job, or the opportunity to work with great mentors.
Whatever it is that causes this interview paralysis I call Multiconvostruckdumbyness you can be assured that it needs to be something you learn to cope with and eventually overcome.
The natural enemy of fear is confidence. How can you be fearful of what people may think of you if you know your subject matter inside out?
- Start by reviewing your resume and by that I mean pour over it. Read those achievements time again so that when questioned you can rattle them off regardless of how your voice may wobble. People who forget and stumble usually haven’t prepared, so rehearse until you have alienated your partner or best friend and then seek out your parents and neighbours (as long as you don’t suffer from syngenesophobia).
- Remember that old advice about public speaking? The one where they say just to imagine everyone in their underwear? Well the jury is out on that one as that can be just plain scary especially if you suffer from nudophobia. One thing you can do however, is realise that most interviewers are as nervous and as anxious as you. While you dread the thought of being interrogated by strangers, most people on the other side of the desk would probably rather stick needles in their eyes than go through the torture of multiple interviews. Employers really want to get this done; find the right person with the right skills and the right attitude to fit in with the team. Recruiters too, are looking for a placement to get paid their commission. Most interviewers really don’t want to be there any more than you, but for them, it’s a means to the end too so while the pressures and expectations are different, much rides on them to make the best decision and move forward. By asking questions, they hope to find answers to their problems.
- Don’t over-dramatise the situation by using emotive self-talk. Notice I mentioned the word “interrogate” in the previous paragraph? If you tell yourself you’re being interrogated it evokes feelings of torture, lights being shone in your eyes, questions being fired in machine-gun fashion. This type of dramatic self-talk isn’t helpful in allaying your fears. Try adjusting it to something milder; for instance you are “popping out for a chat” or “getting together with”. These phrases evoke feelings of calm and friendly discourse. Let’s keep the drama out of the job search. The last interview you went to that didn’t work well was not “horrible” or “tragic” (war is horrible and tragic, not a difficult interview).
As with most fears, repetitive exposure to the fear will help you improve. So start sending those resumes out and accept all opportunities to interview. It can and will become easier!
And, like most of us, unemployment can be an even scarier prospect. Peniaphobia is probably something we all share!