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Managing stress and anxiety in job interviews

Applying for jobs and getting interviews are big achievements. But knowing that you have an interview can be stressful. You may not think it, but most people feel nervous and scared about job interviews. Like you, they worry about all sorts of things like:

  • what questions the interviewer will ask
  • how to manage anxiety during the interview
  • if other people will have more experience or do better
  • how to show confidence
  • how to talk about disability

Sometimes these worries are overwhelming. But there are lots of small things you can do to prepare for your interview, manage your anxiety and feel more confident.

Preparing for the interview

One of the best ways to help with nerves and anxiety is to prepare as much as you can.

Research questions related to the job

Search online for interview questions related to the job you're applying for.

Search the Indeed website for the company's profile. Select the 'Interviews' tab to see what questions you might be asked, such as:

Questions from Deloitte's interviewees (Indeed)

Questions from Virgin Media's interviewees (Indeed)

Search Indeed for company profiles

Search Glassdoor for company reviews and ratings

If you're applying for an admin role, you can search online for 'interview questions for admin jobs'.

YouTube can also be a good place to search. You may find people talking about their interview experiences and the questions they were asked.

LinkedIn can be a good way to learn more about the people interviewing you.

Practise what you'll say

Read the job description again and see how you can apply what you have done. Sometimes employers list the skills and experiences they're looking for as:

  • 'essential', things you need to have
  • 'desirable', things it would be good to have

You'll need to give examples that show you have relevant skills and experience. These can include:

  • things you did in school, college or university
  • any work, internships or volunteering experiences you've had
  • any training, workshops or courses you've done
  • things you've learned outside of work

For example, the job description says you need to be organised. You could show your organisation skills by talking about:

  • planning travel in advance to consider your access needs
  • organizing a group or leisure activity you take part in

If you only have some of the 'essential' skills and experiences, talk about other skills you have.

For example, you could say: "I do not have experience of that, but I'm a fast learner and enjoy learning new things."

You could then give an example of being a fast learner. This could be something like learning to use new software to access online events or to keep in touch with family or friends.

Write answers to the questions you find and read them out. You could also get family or friends to ask you the questions as a mock interview so you can practise speaking in front of someone. Try this over video if you're having a video interview.

See examples of how to answer interview questions

Research the company

Employers usually want to see that you're interested in working for their company. Look at the company website to read about their mission and goals. You could also look at their current campaigns or projects on social media. Make sure you can say:

  • 3 things you like about the company
  • why you're keen to work there
  • why you want the job

For example, you're applying for a job with Scope. You could say you want to work in a team that's passionate about creating change for disabled people and you feel inspired by:

  • recent campaigns that you like
  • the impact Scope has made in the last year from reading their annual report

At the end of the interview, they may ask if you have any questions for them. Try to think of at least 3 things to ask.

7 good questions to ask at an interview (Prospect)

Plan what you'll wear

Many people say they feel more confident when they dress smartly. Plan what you'll wear to the interview a few days before.

You should still dress smartly even if you're having the interview by video. Remember you want to make a good first impression.

Check with family and friends if you're not sure what to wear.

Plan how you'll attend

If you're going to an interview in person, it can help to plan some things in advance, including:

  • where it is and how you'll get there
  • what time you should leave your home to arrive early

Finding out if a workplace is accessible

Video interviews

If you're having a video interview, you should:

  • make sure you know the time and date
  • check they have your contact details
  • test your equipment and the video software you'll be using
  • try to have a back-up plan if you have tech problems
  • make sure you can use your data if you're not on Wi-Fi
  • find a quiet location with plenty of lighting for the call

Video interviews

Managing nerves and anxiety

It's OK to feel nervous or anxious about a job interview. It shows that you care.

Sometimes feeling nervous or anxious can make you feel shaky or forget what you're going to say. But remember that the person interviewing you might also be nervous. They know people get anxious at job interviews. So they'll see past your nerves if you can answer their questions.

You may have heard people say to fake your confidence. Acting confident can be hard if you feel nervous or anxious. There are small things you can try to seem confident, be yourself and keep your nerves under control.

Make a good first impression

If you're going to the interview in person, let the interviewer know if you feel uncomfortable shaking hands or making eye contact. This will help them understand and be more considerate.

Smile

Smiling during the interview can help you come across as friendly and approachable.

Acknowledge your nerves

If your hands feel sweaty or shaky, it may help to acknowledge it and say you're feeling nervous.

Ask if you do not understand

Ask the interviewer if you do not understand a question.

It's best to be honest and say you do not know or that you've forgotten what you were going to say. If you pretend to know something, they may ask another question about it. Honesty is a good quality in an employee.

If you make a mistake

Try not to panic if you make a mistake. It does not mean you will not get the job. Explain that you made a mistake and ask if you can try answering the question again.

Talking about disability

You may have to mention you are disabled before the interview to get the support you need.

Asking for adjustments at interview

It's your choice whether you discuss your impairment or condition at your interview and how you choose to talk about it.

If you decide to talk about it, try to be as positive as you can. For example, instead of talking about the things you'll find difficult in the job, discuss how small changes can help you work more effectively.

Your experience of disability may be valuable in the role. For example, it may have given you skills like:

  • adapting to change
  • being organised
  • managing time efficiently
  • being good with technology
  • problem-solving

Talking about disability in a job interview

Celebrating your achievement

Plan something you enjoy after the interview so you have something to look forward to.

Applying for a job and getting through an interview is an achievement. Every time you fill in an application or have an interview, you're becoming more experienced and confident.

It's disappointing if you do not get the job, but you've done well and should still celebrate. You'll do even better next time, and it's still a valuable experience. You could also:

  • ask the employer for feedback on your interview
  • think about gaps in your skills and experience and how you could fill them before applying for a similar role
  • review your application and remember what made you a strong candidate

Things you can do if you do not get the job

Find out about Scope's Support to Work programme

Last reviewed by Scope on: 08/01/2021

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