Common Interview Fears and How To Overcome Them

Everyone gets a case of nerves when they are facing an interview. The nervous feeling is especially strong in the days and hours leading up to the interview for that perfect job. These fears can seem irrational, but truly, they are worries and fears that everyone experiences.

Common Interview Fears and How To Overcome Them

Keeping the Boss Out of the Loop

Interview stress is a very real thing that afflicts millions of people when they are looking for a job.  One of the most common fears is that you’ll spill the beans to your current boss. It is true that you can more easily land a new or better job while you are currently employed, but keeping your current boss out of the loop is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

You’ll find yourself wondering if you accidentally sent your boss your resume and cover letter. Save yourself from this worry.  Don’t do any job hunting while on the clock at your current job, and if you do land an interview, just use a personal day.

Don’t feel like you have divulge any of this information about your job search or lie about it. Just keep it out of your current company’s hours, and it shouldn’t be a problem.

Being Late

Being late for the interview is another of the most common fears, and it really shouldn’t be.

Make sure that you have the address written down correctly. Then, on the day before the interview at the same time of day, make a trip to the interview location as a test run. If you see that you’ll get caught up in traffic because it’s close to the lunch hour, be sure to allow extra travel time on the actual interview day.

Having Nothing to Wear

Worrying about what to wear to the interview is always a problem. If you aren’t sure what to wear, here are basic go-to tips:

Men: wear a tie and a nicely ironed shirt. Go ahead and wear a suit. It’s better to be dressed for success.

Women: a dress is always a good choice, but a skirt and blouse is okay too.

Remember to shine up your shoes, and don’t wear flashy jewelry. You don’t want your clothing or jewelry to upstage your personality.

A woman’s nightmare is showing up at the interview wearing the same outfit as the interviewer. Add a scarf to your go-to interview suit so that your outfit is custom-made. This will prevent the awkward situation of showing up wearing the exact same outfit as the interviewer and having her looking better than you.

When you are choosing an outfit, make sure that your shoes are not brand new. You don’t want your feet to be the only thing on your mind during the interview. If you aren’t comfortable in your clothing and shoes, it will show in your actions and will undermine your self-confidence.

Also, feel free to ask the recruiter what the office environment is like. Not every place is hyper-professional, and most these days are becoming more casual. Not that it will hurt you much, but it’s a bit awkward to show up in a suit when everyone else is wearing a T-shirt and jeans.

The Handshake Dilemma

The dreaded interview handshake is always a worry. Too firm, too weak, or too sweaty are all common fears.

Practice shaking hands with friends and family members until it becomes natural for you to grip another’s hand in a firm handshake. Make it a part of your regular greeting with everyone so that a handshake isn’t just an interview thing to cause worry.

Competing Against Superstars

There’s always that worry that the person who walked out before you gave the perfect interview, and yours has become a mere formality. You have to think of yourself as the best candidate and try to blow them away.

There are ways you can limit your competition—using area-specific and industry specific job sites, setting up the interview quickly—but if it’s a desirable opportunity, they’re going to have a lot of applications.

Realize this and prepare to give the best interview you can.

Feeling Tongue Tied

Worrying about how to answer an interviewer’s questions is enough to get anyone tongue tied on the day of the interview. You can practice answering the interview questions ahead of time, but you don’t want to sound like you memorized a script!  Instead, have friends or family ask you the interview questions. You can provide the answer to each one in your own words.

If you are worried about sticking your foot in your mouth by saying the wrong thing, you are not alone. If you can relax and let each interview be a learning experience, you will do well. Remember, some interviews are just practice runs for other interviews.

Forgetting Who You Are

Forgetting important information about yourself is another scary thought. If you are afraid that you won’t remember what year you were hired for your first job, be sure to take along a spare copy of your resume.

Take a portfolio along that has several copies, in case you are interviewed by a panel. With a copy of your resume to refer to, you will have something to do with your hands and take off the pressure of remembering dates. Remember to take a breathing moment to compose your answers.

When you are asked to tell more about yourself in your personal life, avoid telling about your most embarrassing moments. Keep to the basics of your life story. You’ll want to mention where you grew up, your hobbies and interests, and other basic things like that. You want the interviewer to see you as a well-rounded person.

Ringing Telephone

If you are worried that your telephone might ring during the middle of an especially important interview, turn it off before you enter the workplace.

Let everyone who might send out a search party for you know where you are, and that you are unavailable while the interview is underway.  Send them a text after you turn your phone on again to share the good news that your phone didn’t interrupt the interview.

If for some reason you don’t land the job at this interview, you’ll have a leg up on the competition. You already know how to find another interview opportunity, and you can chalk this one up to practice. The next step is to head back to the online ads at New York Jobs or other job boards to line up your next interview.


Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.


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