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How to conquer fear of job interviews

Published:Wednesday | July 31, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Glenford Smith

Glenford Smith, career writer

am an avid reader of your column in The Sunday Gleaner. I have a
serious problem succeeding at interviews. I have a direct phobia and I
need to overcome this hurdle. I am a very bright and competent person,
but am afraid this problem will continue to hold me back. What should I

- Allison

Thank you for reading the Gleaner Careers column. It might make you feel better to know that your problem isn't unique to you. Almost every interviewee experiences some degree of nervousness, fear and apprehension.

The people who interview successfully accept this fact, and use it as the basis for getting the edge over their job-seeking competitors every time. How do they do this?

Well, they reason that since everybody is afraid when they interview, the key is to master their fear, rather than denying it, resisting it, or attempting to wish it away.

Here are the steps to follow to overcome your own fear and succeed at any job interview.

1. Embrace your fear, but don't let it overwhelm you.

Best-selling author Susan Jeffers gives this excellent advice: "Feel the fear and do it anyway" — which is the same as the title of the book. Don't fight fear; instead, allow yourself to feel it. Tell yourself that fear is natural and that you can handle whatever comes up in the interview.

2. Prepare thoroughly.

This involves researching the company, its products, challenges and its market. The more you know about the company, the greater will be your confidence. Why?

More knowledge gives you greater confidence about how you can help the company achieve its objectives. The more self-confidence you exude, the less fear and stress you feel, and the more persuasive you'll be with your interviewers.

3. Focus on giving.

Think of bringing value to the company, rather than only looking something from them, namely, a job. Identify specific ways in which they will benefit from hiring you. This engenders a winning self-concept of a valuable contributor instead of a desperate job seeker.

4. Practise mock interviewing.

This might seem unnecessary and extreme. But, believe me, it will drastically lessen your apprehension. Get a friend or family member to ask you the most common interview questions and practise answering them over and over. Winners give themselves an edge by going the extra mile that losers spurn.

5. Visualise a successful interview.

Mentally replay movies of how you want the interview to go. Also, replay instances when you were successful in the past, including the positive feelings of achievement. This is how successful people condition their minds to win.

6. Get the basics right on the day of the interview.

Dress well, and appropriately. Arrive on time. Have all required documents at hand. Relax by breathing deeply. Tell yourself you are going to do your best, and if the job isn't yours, that's okay, something better is awaiting you elsewhere.

7. Listen well and act confidently.

Listen and understand each question before attempting to answer. Speak confidently and practise an attitude of self-assuredness and you'll maintain a mental state of confidence.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'.