7.24.2013

Why Job Interviews are Terrifying

As I have mentioned a couple of times over the past week or so, I had an interview yesterday for a teaching position. This is the first interview I have had since the one for my current job. Let me tell you a little something about myself...I am TERRIFIED of interviews. I know that nobody necessarily enjoys them, but I literally dread them until they are over with. I refuse to believe that I'm the only one that feels that way.

Sure, it's a joyous moment when you're offered one. You hang up the phone and jump up and down for a few minutes before the fear actually hits you. Then you want to curl up in the fetal position when you think about all of the questions they could potentially ask you. All you envision is yourself sitting there with wide eyes and a blank face, unable to give a satisfactory answer.

So after yesterday's mediocre interview, I did a little thinking...trying to figure out what the factors of interview intimidation really are. It seems that a few mildly unpleasant factors add up to one gigantic fear. Let's break them down...

1. Whose bright idea was business casual clothing?
Dress slacks, button up shirts, pencil skirts, blazers, heels...all of those things look extremely classy and professional. Obviously...that's kind of the point. But, they are also the most uncomfortable pieces of clothing on the face of the planet. Isn't it kind of a proven point that people are more relaxed when they feel comfortable in their appearance? Why then, are we expected to wear hot, stiff clothing in an interview.

I don't know how hot the weather gets where you all live, but I live in Florida. No further description needed. When I parked at the school yesterday, I started sweating as soon as I turned my car off. By the time I toddled up the lawn and the stairs in my heels and well-though-out clothing, I was sweating bullets. Not exactly a confidence booster. I'm also pretty sure, that even though my skirt was plenty long enough, I was more focused on keeping my knees together while I was interviewing than I was on anything else. I'm not saying that sweatpants should be appropriate to wear while you're on the quest for a job, but when it's 95 degrees out, a sundress should be understandable.

2. There's no way to 100% prepare for the questions that will be asked.
Thanks to previous interviews (and Google) it is definitely possible to "study" for an interview. You can look up sample questions, find job specific topics that may come up, discover what you should bring with you, practice in front of your mirror, etc. Still, since there is no way to read your interviewers mind, it is impossible to know exactly how an interview will go.

Even if the first half of the interview goes just as you imagined, there will still most likely be that one question that comes up that you definitely were not prepared for. When that question comes out of your interviewer's mouth, it's like you forget everything you have ever learned, and you're sitting there with your eyes wide, stammering to come up with an answer that will come across at least halfway educated. This happened to me yesterday. Things went great for the first 90% of the question and answer period, then one single inquiry caught me off guard and I was an awkward person for the remainder of the time.

3. Nervousness multiplies by 100 when the job at stake is one you really want.
I have interviewed for several jobs in the past six or so years, and I have never been as stressed about the interview process as I was yesterday. I'm an extremely anxious person to begin with, so by the time I got out of that office yesterday I was a jumble of emotions. It's really difficult when an interview doesn't go as well as you were imagining, especially when it's one that you have been in preparation for.

How do you all deal with this type of stress? It's obviously something that is going to occur numerous times in life...and an early death may be the result if the stress level is through the roof each time! What are your secrets to being calm and confident?

Regardless of how I feel about the interview...it must not have been too terrible because they asked for additional references from me. I'm supposed to know by the end of the week, so we will see how it goes!

Happy Wednesday!

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