Tackling Interview Anxiety

Dress: Thrifted (Talbots) | Shoes: Thrifted (Michal Kors) | Purse: Thrifted | Scarf: Thrifted 

At this point I don't consider myself to be an expert at Interviews by any way shape or form, but by now I have gone through my fair share of Interviews from college to now (landing my job for the fall) and have picked up some valuable lessons along the way. 
Let's start out with my first "real" interview I ever had, which would be the panel interview I went through in getting my RA job in college. While I had worked two other jobs before college those were for people who already know me so there wasn't a real interview process. I remember going into the interview for the RA position and thinking to myself "This is my first real interview" and to be honest I didn't know what to expect at all! However, I had been prepped by another RA with possible interview questions I could be asked so I was able to think of my responses to possible questions that could come up during the interview. You would think that I would have completely failed my first "official" interview but if I am being perfectly honest it went so much better than I was expecting....I mean I got the job so evidently I did alright:)
Flash forward to last fall when I was in the midst of doing student teaching and had to complete a "mock interview." At first I hated the idea that we had to get a principal or AP at our school to do a "mock interview" with us, but in the long run that experience greatly prepared me for the various interviews I had this past spring. In doing the mock interview I had a list of questions that I knew would be asked and was able to think through and prepare answers for them, so nothing ask was unknown. However, this greatly helped me to freely and confidently answer questions without worrying how I would answer and gave me a feel for how to sit, act, and carry myself during such an important process. 
After my student teaching was over and I graduated I then entered into a whole new season of figuring out my future, attending job fairs, looking for job postings/openings, and going through interviews. The whole process seemed daunting and overwhelming at first......job fairs are not an Introverts cup of tea, but it turned out to not be nearly as bad as I thought. While I attended a few different job fairs, there was only one that really scored me some opportunities (and ended up landing my my job for the fall). The day of that big job fair I actually did two interviews with the school that I will be working for in the fall. What you might not know about job fairs is that at some you might just drop off your resume and give your name and others you will actually go through a mini interview at the districts/organizations table so that they can evaluate you as a candidate (always be prepared for questions). 
Thus, the day of that BIG job fair I went through two interview processes and was also scheduled to be interviewed by one of the AP's but their schedule got busy so I went and did my interview the next week. After that interview I also had an interview with the high school I student taught at for a position that was going to be coming available. 
While at the beginning of this year the though of Interviews would have probably scared and overwhelmed me, I learned so much through the process, gained valuable experience, and learned so much about myself. 
Interviews can be overwhelming and lead to so much anxiety, however I learned many valuable lessons along the way and thought I would share them with you all!

  • Always Be Yourself - I can't tell you how important this is! This goes for how you carry yourself, how you talk, what you say, and even how you dress! I remember getting ready for the Job fair and interviews and always thinking back to what so many professors had told me about "professional dress" in it being neutral, tailored, and businesy.....quite honestly "business dress" has always been boring to me because it has no personality. With that I infused my own personality into the "Business appropriate" dress I wore to the job fairs and interviews and it always gave me so much more confidence! To the BIG job fair (where I landed my main interview) I wore a 60's green and yellow floral print shift dress (made from a sheet) over a long sleeve, high neck vintage button up blouse and yellow heels:) To my 3rd interview with the school I wore fitted gingham pants, a lavender sweater set, and black suede block heels. To the Interview I had at the school I student taught at in the fall I wore a yellow dress (pictured in this post) and nude block heels. Being myself has always made me the most confident, and that to me comes from dressing as me:) This is my #1 tip for overcoming interview anxiety!
  • Always Be Comfortable - This specifically has to do with what you wear! Don't wear a fitted dress that you will be worried about riding up when you sit down and don't wear tall heels that will hurt your feet. You need to put something on that you won't worry about until you are finished, so if flats will be more comfortable wear them! 
  • Practice Questions Beforehand - Whether you are interviewing for a teaching position like me, or another position in a field that you have qualifications in, you can always find possible interview questions. Familiarizing yourself with possible questions beforehand helps you to be prepared for questions that could be asked so that you don't always have to think about them on the spot. Write down the questions and your answers to them, say them to yourself, or even have someone interview you. I seriously interviewed myself all the way to the BIG job fair.....no joke! Because I was prepared for the questions they asked me, I was able to answer them confidently and thoroughly during my interviews which took the stress out of thinking on the spot. 
  • Fake It Till You Make It - Okay, so that sounds weird, but here's the thing, sometimes you might not have prepared for a question that is asked of you and that is okay! You can either say you would have to think about it, because you honestly don't know what you would do in that situation, or you can let your brilliant brain take over and answer the question for you:) When I was in my second official interview I was asked a question about leveling up, personalized, learning and how I would keep students on task. I hadn't been asked this question before and had no real experience with it, but in the moment I had ideas come to mind and I started listing off all of these methods I would use and accountability procedures I would implement in my classroom....it sounded awesome and apparently the content area coordinator thought so too because he said "Wow, you have though about that a lot!"
  • Always Be Honest - Remember the story above, where I started rattling off an answer that I hadn't prepared for or ever been asked and the content area coordinator made the comment that I must have thought a LOT about it, well turns out after he said that I admitted "Honestly I just came up with that right now!" Not many people would probably admit to the fact that they hadn't actually "put a lot of thought into it", but I guess in that moment admitting the truth seemed right. Thankfully the coordinator thought so too because he said "Honest, I like it." I think honestly is so important in an interview. If you don't know that answer to something, admit it, but also follow it up with saying you will find the answer. Or, if you answer a question on the spot and get a comment, be honest about it:) If you can't be honest you are not being true to yourself. 
  • Believe In Yourself - If you can't believe in your potential you will never survive an interview or land the job! In order to have the people interviewing you believe in you, you first have to believe in yourself, your abilities, qualifications, and potential. Also having others support and believe in you helps you believe in yourself! Every time I would head out the door to a job fair or interview my mom would always tell me "You've got this" and "You are perfect for this job!" That always helped me to regain my belief in my abilities and go into an interview confident that I was a good fit. 
  • Make Eye Contact With Your Interviewers - I know, this is awkward and probably seems super hard, but it isn't as bad as it seems. So many people go into interviews and look at their hands or avoid eye contact with the people asking them questions.....odds are they won't get the job! You have to pretend they are your best friends and you are having an important conversation with them. Make eye contact while they ask you questions and then make eye contact with everyone while you are answering.....it's not as bad as it seems and it makes you look super professional and odds are could easily land you the job (after while you won't even know you are doing it)!
  • Use Real Life Experiences - Drawing upon real life experiences is so important in an interview because it shows the interviewer or panel that you have experience and worked through something similar in the past. Sometimes they might specifically ask you about your experience and other times it doesn't hurt to bring up examples of you using a specific technique or completing something relating to the question. Using examples from real life show that you know what you are talking about. 
  • It's Not As Scary As It Seems - Odds are the interview will go better than you think (especially if you prepare). The people interviewing you have been in your shoes, they know how nerve wracking it can be, so just relax and be yourself. Take deep breaths, don't be afraid to ask for clarification on a question, smile, make eye contact, and be confident! 
  • Shake Hands At The End & Thank Them - It is always a good professional procedure to shake hands when you first meet the person interviewing you, but always shake their hands at the end and thank them for your time. This shows you care not only about the interview process and job but also about those taking the time to talk with you. 
  • TREAT YOURSELF! - Last but not least, make sure to treat yourself afterwards! This has kind of become a tradition in our family of going to get icecream or coffee after a big test, interview, etc. and you better believe I treated myself after those interview:) You deserve a treat and something to look forward to! 

- Madison 

2 comments

  1. What luck of reading this today! I am preparing for an upcoming interview and this post helps me so much. I'm just a little nervous about it as I must also give a speech and I hate talking in front of people. Introvert all the way. . . Thanks for the tips!

    ~ Megan Joy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yay! Good luck on your interview and speech! I know you will do amazing:) I am not a huge fan of talking in front of people, but if it's something I am passionate about I don't even think about it.
      -M

      Delete