Why didn’t I get the job? The not so hidden perils of anxiety

Job interview anxiety continues to be a struggle for many candidates in the job interview.  As a result, many of us dread job interviews and experience negative thoughts about our performance in the days leading up to it.  Despite this, the job interview continues to be one of the most common assessment methods that organizations use to make selection decisions.

If you’re the kind of person to experience dread about job interviews, then this type of anxiety could be the thing that interferes with you achieving:

  • your dream job, or
  • the next stepping stone in your career or
  • initial entry into the job market.

Studies have shown that if you are overtly anxious in a job interview, then you are likely to receive significantly lower ratings of interview performance by the people interviewing you.

Which means you are less likely to be hired for the job!

What is job interview anxiety?

Job interview anxiety refers to “nerves” or “the jitters” that people experience prior to, during and after a job interview. A racing heart rate, ‘butterflies in the stomach’, sweaty palms and foreheads, shorter breaths, and muscle tension are a few of the main symptoms that people notice within themselves. But given that these are mostly invisible to others, how is it that they could lead to considerably lower ratings on interview performance, and therefore fewer job offers? Well, studies suggest there are some more observable behavioural cues (for example, speech rate) AND several traits that have been shown to be exhibited by anxious people in job interviews that appear to relate to their demise.

Anxiety vs Assertiveness and Interpersonal Warmth

Research suggests that if you’re attending an interview then it’s helpful to be aware of how your ‘nerves’ and ‘jitters’ affect your ability to be perceived as:

  1. Assertive (i.e. dominant, confident, optimistic, attentive and professional) and
  2. Interpersonally warm (i.e. enthusiastic, pleasant, likeable, honest, supportive and warm).
  • Are you giving steady eye contact, or do you avoid eye contact?
  • Do you put your hand out for a confident handshake or does your nonverbal body language suggest you would rather keep your hands to yourself or worse still do you fidget with your clothes or hair?
  • Do you smile at the interviewers or are you inclined to have furrowed eyebrows?
  • Do you answer questions with informed responses spoken in an even tone and paced pattern or would it be that you are quick to reply with shortened responses and a speech rate of fewer words?
  • Do you therefore come across as attentive, honest, confident, enthusiastic, likeable, warm, supportive, optimistic and approachable OR secretive, uncertain, clinical and difficult to get to know?

Of course it’s normal to have some feelings of apprehension and anxiety leading up to, during and after a job interview. However, if you’re repeatedly finding that your resume is attracting the attention of recruiters and/or employers BUT you’re not able to convert your skills, knowledge, personal attributes and experience in the job interview, then the team at Attuned Psychology is equipped with experienced psychologists to help you improve your job interview performance.

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