Stress Less at Your Job Interview With These Tips & Tricks
In this article:
The Three Phases of Job Interview Stress
Stress is a common feeling of emotional or physical tension which can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand, and is something you will come across with any position. While too much stress can wear us out mentally, emotionally, and physically, not all stress is negative, research shows that an appropriate amount of stress can be a positive thing.
It can be a balancing act to keep your stress level at an appropriate, productive level. A job interview provides the perfect example of how just enough stress can keep us on our toes while helping us to put our best foot forward.
This leads us to one of the most common interview questions that many people struggle with.
How do you manage your stress?
To answer this question successfully, you'll want to provide specific examples of how you've handled stress well in the past. Remember that stress is a factor in any job, and there are times where pressure actually makes you work more productively.
Read the job description carefully to figure out what responsibilities are most likely to be stress-inducing (working with new clients, meeting tight deadlines, managing a big budget, etc.) and then think of stories from your past that match up with these new responsibilities.
Be careful when responding, as if you say you get stressed when you're given multiple projects, and you know the job will require you to juggle many assignments at once, you’ll look like you're not a good fit for the position.
Consider mentioning how a little stress can be a helpful motivator for you. Try to provide an example of a time when the stress of a difficult project helped you be a more creative and productive worker.
Stress is something we all deal with
Hiring managers understand that some aspects of the job may be stressful, and how you deal with it is extremely important.
Denying stress is firstly, not convincing, and secondly, unhealthy for your mental health. Your hiring manager may assume that you don’t take your job seriously, or that you are out of touch with your emotions, which can be seen as a red flag from their perspective.
A strong answer will show that you’ve not only dealt with stress effectively in the past, but you have the tools and job-specific know-how to deal with any stressful situation that might come your way.
Stress outside of the workplace
If you can't recall work specific examples, then focus on how you manage your daily stress. This information will give interviewers and hiring managers a better glimpse into who you are and how you operate in and outside of the job.
The three phases of job interview stress:
1. Before your interview:
Preparation is key for all professionals and it can prove to be one of the most valuable skills that you can master in avoiding the build-up of stress and anxiety as deadline dates approach in your professional career.
Preparation helps you adequately understand the types of questions and tasks you may encounter during your interview and will boost your confidence for the big day.
Setting time apart can help you avoid burnout when preparing for your interview. We recommend starting your interview preparation at least two weeks before your interview. This will give you adequate time to work on factors you’re unsure of, and perfect those you are sure of. As many industries are fast-paced and won’t necessarily set interview dates so far in the future, use the time frame you have been given to divide and conquer the preparation work required ahead of your job interview. What are the most important areas to focus on during this period? This will help you to conduct the necessary preparation for you to feel prepared but not too rushed.
During your interview:
Forget to mention something?
When you realize that you forgot to say something important, you can still correct the omission in order to minimize ongoing stress. If you’re still in the interview, it’s always possible to say: “I just realized that I hadn’t mentioned…” Now you’ve made sure that the information you wanted to share has been shared.
On occasion, an interviewer may throw you a curveball. This may take you off guard and cause some additional stress to an already stressful process, however the first step to dealing with unexpected questions is to acknowledge the unusual nature of the question: e.g. “That’s an interesting question. May I have a moment to consider that?”
This holds true for any questions you may be asked, it’s okay to ask for a moment to think about your answer. This shows that you’re being intentional with your answers. It’s always a good idea to ask for clarification or rephrasing of questions if you are unsure.
Take a breath, take a sip of water, and take a moment to compose yourself.
After your interview:
Forgot to mention something?
One big stress you may face during the interview process is realizing that you’ve forgotten to mention something important during the meeting, or realizing you may have been vague and not clarified an answer properly.
While you may not get a second chance to make a first impression, there is still hope. One option would be to send a thank you email, with a paragraph or two discussing what you’ve forgotten.
While the situation is far from ideal, most hiring managers will appreciate the initiative and accountability shown by reaching out after the interview. This will also save you the stress of worrying that you’ve missed.
Playing the waiting game
Nobody likes the waiting game, however some companies can have an exceptionally long hiring process. While most hiring managers will give you a timeframe for when to expect feedback, external factors may further delay this deadline.
We recommend sending a thank you email soon no more than a couple of days after your interview, as this shows a genuine appreciation for the interviewer's time and effort while giving you a chance to clarify any aspects of the interview you feel need clarity, and leave a lasting positive impression on the decision makers.
If no timeframe is provided, or that timeframe has already passed, understanding that following up within a week is perfectly acceptable should help put your mind at ease.
Rejection is an unfortunate reality of the hiring process. Remember that there are many possible reasons a company may go with a different candidate, and none of these are personal reflections on yourself, and are out of your control.
In these situations, although you are swirling with emotions, it’s best to remain gracious and thank the interviewer for their time. Remaining calm and reflective of this experience will allow you to move forward from a position of strength - remember that there are many companies out there which might be waiting for you as the perfect candidate.
Stress management looks different for each of us, while this guide is a great place to start in reducing the stress you may feel during the interview process. Should you feel completely overwhelmed, we encourage you to do additional research to discover the relaxation techniques and grounding processes that work best for you.
Prefer to move your body to shake off stress? Why not take a look at our favorite YouTube yoga instructor, Yoga with Adriene for a relaxing flow and breathe work to calm your nerves.
Music therapy may not be first on your list of go-tos but this relaxation playlist is three full hours of stress-melting magic, give it a listen here.
You’ve just taken your next steps towards succeeding in your career, be sure to take a look at the Wizco Blog for more insider tips and tricks and walk into every growth opportunity prepared. It pays to be prepared!
The Wizco Team