Interviewing – Overcoming Common Fears

I recently asked a group of students and associates what they fear most when it comes to interviewing. The answers I received were varied—showing that we all have specific things that make us nervous. A few of the fears I heard about were:

  • Not being able to come up with an answer on the spot
  • Leaving the interview and feeling like you didn’t give your best answer
  • Figuring out what to wear

Preparing for an interview can feel like a lot. I recommend developing the following mindset to help you navigate your interview fears. This might be hard for some students to believe, but a good interview is really just a good conversation. Think about it…an interview involves a friendly greeting/introduction, an exchange of information and meaningful stories, depends on active listening, and benefits from positive curiosity. It doesn’t need to be perfect…and neither do you!

So, if you can’t come up with an answer on the spot, don’t panic! Take a breath, smile, say “that’s a good question” as you mentally review your Story Bank (see page 2 of this linked resource) for a suitable example. It’s okay to be a human in an interview and to take a minute!

Try not to rehash the interview too much afterwards. We can all stand to improve, but ruminating on past performance isn’t helpful. If there are one or two selling points that you know you want to boost a bit, add a line in your follow-up thank you email where you re-cap those. This will keep those skills top-of-mind when the hiring manager is reviewing candidates.

What to wear? That can be a tricky one. The general “rule” (unspoken, unclear, and ever-changing) is to dress one level above what you might be expected to wear at work. In general, opt for something slightly conservative. You want to look like you are taking it seriously and like you tried. What might that look like? Check out our Dress for Success resource for some options.

An interviewer is not expecting you to be perfect! A good interview helps the interviewer learn more about how you think, how you approach problems, and how you communicate. Rehearsal can help! Try out Big Interview, our video interviewing software or schedule a Mock Interview or Interview Preparation appointment with one of our MCS Career Advisors. You’ve got this!

By Pauline Thaler (she/her)
Pauline Thaler (she/her) Career Advisor