Many jobseekers take worrying to a whole new level until they become obsessive about the impression they will make at interview. They fear they are not dressed appropriately, that sweaty palms will be a deal breaker when they shake hands, or that they will be found to be inadequate in some way. They talk themselves into a lather of “what ifs”. What if I stutter when I’m talking? What if I say something dumb? What if I cannot answer the interviewer’s questions?
Wanting to do your best and showcase your skills is natural. Excessive and unnecessary concern about things that may never happen is not.
I’m not going to add myself to the chorus of friends and family who think that all you need is to apply positive self-talk.
Instead I’m going to equip you with some action steps. Actions that once you’ve followed them, you will be able to breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that you have done everything possible to address the areas causing you the most concern.
- Eliminate perfumes and aftershave: Fear will make you sweat and get overheated and if you are wearing too much scent, you will be give off the odour of a walking bordello. This in turn will make you self-conscious that you may be offending your interviewer. You can eliminate all of that unnecessary angst and just put on some nice clean clothes and deodorant.
- Wear clothes that make you feel good. For women, if you try on a dress that you feel is a little snug around the hips, or that rides up as you walk from static electricity, it will be all you will think about all day and it will make you self-conscious. Men, if you choose a shirt or suit on the tight side then you will be constantly uncomfortable. Spare yourself the distraction of adjusting your clothes by choosing your wardrobe for the day carefully and considering the right accessories and apparel.
- Sweaty palms. Unless you have a medical condition that needs treatment you are probably just fine. But if sweaty palms is a problem for you, place a cotton face towel in your briefcase or handbag. While you’re waiting to be called you can give your hands a quick wipe while pretending to look for something. Often the use of alcohol-based hand cleaners will help too and some people even use unscented antiperspirants made especially for hands and feet. If you can conquer the fear, that’s half the battle.
- Appearing Stupid: Preparation is the key here. You will not sound stupid by being at a loss for something to say, as long as you have prepared for the discussion. Of course there is no way you can rehearse parrot-fashion answers to what people may ask you, but you can have an intimate knowledge of what is in your resume, and you can think long and hard about your experience and how your contributions have made made money, saved money, boosted productivity or just made it a better place to be. If you are prepared, if you know what you’re offering and can refer to your resume as a prompter, the chances of looking like a fish with no sound coming out is greatly reduced.
- Stuttering Most of us stutter from time-to-time and it is frequently made worse by stress. The best you can do is take a big breath, grin and start again.
Interviewers are not there to tear you down; they’re not there to find fault and embarrass you. They want you to be a good fit for the job so they can move on too! Above all they want to know you and what you are offering. Allowing yourself to get sidetracked by your fears is nothing but a distraction for both sides.
So follow these action steps and then relax and get ready. I think they’re calling your name now!