Interviews can be anxiety-inducing for even the most qualified candidates. However, with the right mindset and preparation, you can tackle interviews with confidence. This article summarizes proven techniques from a recent podcast on conquering interview anxiety, so you can put your best foot forward.
Common Causes of Interview Anxiety
It’s natural to feel some nervousness before an important interview. However, excessive anxiety can sabotage your performance. Some common triggers include:
- Fear of the unknown – Interviewing with unfamiliar people or companies
- Concerns about being judged or misunderstood
- Worry about unexpected questions you’re unprepared for
- Not having enough time to fully showcase your abilities
- Unsure how to balance confidence and humility
- Dread of common questions like “what is your greatest weakness?”
- Feeling rusty if you haven’t interviewed in a while
Using STAR/SMART to Structure Responses
The STAR or SMART method provides a proven framework for answering behavioral interview questions. Here are the components:
- Situation – Describe the specific context
- Task or Metrics – Explain goals, responsibilities, requirements, etc.
- Actions – Detail the steps you took
- Results – Share the outcomes and accomplishments
- Tie-in – Connect to the needs of the role
For example, you could answer “Tell me about a time you overcame a challenge” using this structure:
“In my previous role as a project manager, my team was assigned to develop an app…The goal was to launch within 6 months…To keep us on track, I held daily standups to identify blockers…We launched the complete app within 5 months…This shows I can lead teams through ambiguity to achieve success. In this role, that skill would allow me to…”
The STAR/SMART method ensures you provide meaningful examples and connect them back to the role.
Discover Your Personal Mantra
In addition to preparing your responses, it’s crucial to build confidence in yourself and your value. As leadership coach Joel explains, developing a personal “mantra” can help with this. Your mantra is an uplifting statement about your unique strengths and what drives you.
To identify your mantra, reflect on questions like:
- What do you feel passionate about?
- What are your core values?
- What are your natural strengths?
- How do you positively impact others?
Your mantra should highlight your personality in an authentic yet concise way. For example:
“I am energized by bringing people together through compassionate listening and thoughtful advice.”
Internalizing this mantra provides a framework to discuss your background confidently. You can explain how your mantra has enabled success in past roles, and how it aligns with the needs of the target position. This shifts the focus from just reciting qualifications to showcasing the value you offer.
Preparation: Do Your Homework
With the right preparation, you can further reduce interview anxiety. Be sure to research the company, role, interviewers, products/services, competitors, and recent news. Look up common interview questions for that type of job.
You should also prepare specific examples to showcase important skills needed for the role. Use the STAR/SMART method to develop compelling stories.
Mock interviews with a friend or mentor are extremely helpful. You can request feedback on areas like:
- How clearly/succinctly you answered questions
- Usage of filler words like “um”
- Whether examples were relevant and impactful
- Your body language and eye contact
- Appropriate pacing and tone
Having a list of smart questions to ask about the role is also key. This demonstrates your interest and preparation.
Executing Interviews with Poise and Positivity
With the right mindset and preparation, it’s time to put your skills into action. Here are tips to shine during the actual interview:
- Highlight how your mantra and strengths align with company needs
- Be authentic and enthusiastic in your responses
- Remain concise, focused, and candid
- Use positive and confident (but not cocky) language
- Maintain good eye contact and energetic body language
- Ask thoughtful questions that show initiative
- Express appreciation and reinforce your fit in a follow-up email
By emphasizing your genuine strengths and abilities, you can stand out from other qualified candidates. Though interviews may always provoke some nerves, following these tips will help you minimize anxiety and maximize your chances of success. With the right preparation and perspective, you can replace worry with confidence.