March 3, 2021

7 Common Interview Fears and How to Get Over Them

Let’s imagine the following situation. After graduating or finishing courses, you find a dream company and send your resume to apply for the job. And then the day of the first interview has come.

Your heart begins to beat faster. You’re flooded with anxiety and your excitement starts turning into fear.
What to do to calm down? How to pick yourself up and make a good impression at the interview?

Our people partner Kristina Chemerkaya is often asked what techniques could be applied to fight anxiety and fears in such situations. This experience inspired her to share them in this article. So let’s find out how to cope with your emotions at a job interview.

Alyona Petrukhina
Content Marketing Manager

Fear #1. No experience, no job

Everyone started the career path without experience. If you decide to master a new profession, first of all, you need to learn hard, and then gain experience.

If you write in your resume about the lack of experience, you will not be required to have it. But keep in mind that your activities like participation in hackathons or pet projects are also valuable experiences, so feel free to write about them in your resume. There are companies (including HYS Enterprise) that are ready to provide an internship opportunity. You will be assisted by a team lead, mentor, and team members. Even without experience, you can dive into a real project.

Fear #2. What to Do When You Don’t Know How to Answer an Interview Question

First, try to understand why you were asked this question:

  • Is the recruiter trying to understand how deep is your technical knowledge?
  • Is the recruiter just following a standard list of questions?
  • Is the recruiter checking the match of yours and the company’s values?

You can always pause to collect your thoughts. Also, you can ask follow-up or clarifying questions. Recruiters appreciate honest and thoughtful answers. Don’t make something up. Seasoned recruiters can catch you in a lie and it’ll look worse. It’s better to honestly answer that you don’t know the answer, but you understand exactly where to find the information. You can give the example from your previous job or project that reflects your approach in resolving challenging situations.

And remember, your interview is a two-way conversation. The employer is interested in finding a motivated specialist just as you are interested in signing your contract with the desired company.

Fear #3. How to Show that I Have Enough Motivation

You may have a great resume with outstanding hard and soft skills, but your motivation doesn’t align with the company’s goal or values.

People have different motivations for working at a job. Someone considers a salary as the main motivation trigger. For others, it could be the realization of their potential or the team. Analyze the place you are going to for an interview and think about how your motivation intersects with this company. Before you talk about your motivation, imagine what you would like to hear in the place of your interviewer.

For example, if you say something like ‘I need a job to make my first million’ at the interview for a position at a mid-sized startup, they are unlikely to be able to offer you that. In this case, it is better to talk about your interest in developing and launching projects from scratch.

Fear #4. Rejection

Nobody likes to be rejected either in professional or personal life. Remember that it’s not just happening to you. So take a small measure of comfort in knowing that everyone is going through the same thing.

Think of it as a series of trials and errors and learn from them. It’s also helpful to ask about feedback even after the rejection. Feedback can help you manage your expectations and consider your approach at the next interviews.

I recommend an amazing book ‘Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection’ written by Jia Jiang. It’s an inspiring story of conquering the fear of rejection.

Fear #5. Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome occurs when the person doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’. People with impostor syndrome reject success and explain it as luck or just the right moment. There are several tips for those who struggle with it:

  1. Embrace uncertainty. None of us knows what will happen in the next moment. Enthusiasm and a smile always save in such situations. If something didn’t work out this time, it will work out the next time.
  2. Stop striving for perfection. It’s better to do something well now than perfect and never.
  3. Accept help from others.
  4. Listen and accept encouragements.
  5. Don’t associate your success only with luck.

Moreover, your thoughts affect your emotions and your behavior. Learn to think positively:

  • Instead of: ‘I am doomed to fail. Everyone will know that I am not suitable for this position.’ Tell yourself: ‘I am very excited right now and am looking forward to this adventure!’
  • Instead of: ‘I didn’t deserve this, it’s just a coincidence.’ Tell yourself: ‘I know that I did everything well. I’m a good specialist.’

Fear #6. Fear of Looking Stupid

Nowadays, few companies require IQ or EQ tests at interviews. You can be given a test task in advance or right at the interview. Don’t be afraid to say that you’re worried. Overconfident but incompetent applicants give a worse impression. Above all, you can ask for more time to prepare and ask clarifying questions. As a result, you will definitely sort something out.

Fear #7. Lack of English Proficiency

If you have a low level of English, you can make it easier for yourself and prepare for the common topics. Write out the most extensive list of interview questions and come up with the answers.

List of the topics to prepare:

  • Description of yourself (biography, places of study, and work)
  • Reasons for leaving the previous place of work
  • Motivation to work in a new place
  • Technical knowledge and skills
  • Achievements
  • Hobby
  • Plans, goals for the future

Don’t cheat about the level of the language. Your level will be very obvious at the interview. However, interviewers will appreciate your preparation and consider it as a serious approach.

How to Calm Down and Pull Yourself Together

  • Breathe.

Before going to the interview, do some simple breathing exercises. Breathe in deeply, calmly, and slowly: inhale for 2 seconds, pause for 2 seconds, and exhale for 2 seconds. Breathing exercises will calm down your nerves and heart rate.

  • Work on the mimic.

To prevent your face from emitting panic during the interview, you need to relax.

Grimace for one minute. Raise and lower your eyebrows, frown, smile and curl your lips into a tube, move your jaw from side to side. It helps to warm up the mimic muscles. You’ll feel that the tension goes away.

  • Show confidence through your body.

Straighten your shoulders, raise your chin, and smile naturally. Before you enter the room for a conversation with a potential employer, say to yourself: ‘I’m going to enjoy the process of the interview, not the result.’

Wrapping Up: 3 Tips to Crush the Interview

  • Tip # 1. Preparation. Before each interview, you need to prepare: learn more about the company, and the position, write your questions to the recruiter and be ready to tell about yourself and your professional experience. Forewarned is forearmed.
  • Tip # 2. It’s ok to be afraid of the first interview! You cannot completely get rid of anxiety, but it can give you more energy and mobilize your resources.
  • Tip # 3. Lack of experience is only a matter of time. Just try and go to the interviews. To gain more confidence, you can rehearse your answers in front of friends, or at home in front of a mirror. And even if you don’t get the position the first time, keep it up. This is an invaluable experience. Keep working on the mistakes and take them into account at the next interview.

Life Hack.

Have you already prepared your self-presentation? If you haven’t done it yet, then catch four questions that help to present yourself in 1 minute:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I do?
  • Why am I the best at what I do (my strengths, experience)?

You are almost ready for your first interview. Remember, you are already a winner, as you have chosen your path and your profession!