Turning An Anxious Job Seeker Into An Interview Pro

Just the thought of an interview can push a naturally anxious person over the edge. Putting these personality types into a stressful situation, where self-doubt kicks in, makes it extra difficult for them to have a successful interview. 

Recent studies have shown that almost 50 percent of job applicants wonder if the hiring manager is looking for someone like them. That’s a lot of pressure for anyone, but especially for those with high anxiety. 

In addition to this, 60 percent of job seekers have had a poor hiring experience in the past. No one wants to be placed back into a negative situation and worrying about past experiences can cause anxiety and create unneccesary hurdles and obstacles that prevent you from moving forward and achieving your full potential.


People with high anxiety are often stereotyped as those who are quiet, can’t stop fidgeting, or have trouble looking others in the eyes but this is not always the case.  Often, people who are really anxious have no outward nervous tendencies or entirely unexpected ones.

One thing they typically have in common is that job seekers with anxious impulses fear that they’re not good enough for the job. This jolt to the confidence can make anyone feel nervous in an interview, so applicants who are susceptible to high anxiety feel even more stress towards the process. 

Most specialists or therapists will tell you that its important not to attempt to help someone with anxiety get over their fears. Rather, it’s important to coach them on how to deal with these anxieties during stressful situations — like an interview for example.

The following tips can help even the most anxious job seeker work their way through their next interview with a degree of confidence and ease.  

Harness the calming effects of breathing

Practice focusing on ways to breathe so your nerves don’t get the best of you. People who are highly sensitive to stress feel like a second of deep breathing is an entire minute. It's okay to take a moment before answering a question and to take a couple of breaths whilst you gather your thoughts. Interviewers appreciate candidates who give themselves a moment to answer each question with deliberation and confidence. Nothing says that more than controlled and intentional breathing. 

Practice calming your heart rate and nerves through breathing. Breathe for five seconds in through the nose, and five seconds out discretely through the mouth. As the interviewer is speaking, you can continue to do this to keep your mind from racing and to prevent anxiety from escalating before it’s time to respond. 

Practice through role play

It’s extremely difficult to feel prepared for an interview because we never know exactly what’s to come. But you can help yourself exponentially by running through mock interviews. Many recruitment agencies like KHM Recruitment will offer support in this area and can give you advice on how to envisage different scenarios to bring awareness to your posture, speech, and fidgeting habits. 

When we’re anxious, we often talk quickly and are too distracted by our nerves to focus on listening skills. Even bad posture can play into the shakiness we present in both posture and voice. As these responses deteriorate, our anxiety increases.

After role playing an interview situation, consider how you felt about your body language and rate of speech. Chances are, if you hold yourself confidently and remain conscious of the speed of your responses, you will realise that your are much less anxious. 

This new mindfulness of their body will help calm you down before panic sets in during an actual interview. If you are not yet confident, repeat the exercise a few times and this will give you to the opportunity to make proper posture and confident verbal cues, a more natural response.

Review common questions that come up during interviews. Think about the many different forms these questions may come in. For example, 'what’s one negative about yourself' versus 'name something you need to improve on'. While these sound different, the basic information the interviewer is looking for is the same — don’t let anxiety creep up in response to a simple rephrasing. 

Train yourself to listen carefully for the intent of the question, take a breath, and answer accordingly. Practice feeling natural, and not too rehearsed when answering these questions. When nerves kick in, so does a robotic, forced voice that takes away from your true personality.

Reassure yourself that you are ready

Believe in yourself and reassure yourself that you are, in fact, a potential candidate and that you are more than prepared for the upcoming interview. Go over everything that you have been practicing and make a list of some of the more important facts that you focused on in your practice interview. 

If you are having trouble thinking of these strong moments, try and think of specifics such as: what’s a physical habit you are now able to control that you could not previously? How will you calm yourself down before answering a question? Do you feel confident now that you will be able to repeat what the interviewer says to you? Do you now have the confidence to make eye contact?

People with anxious tendencies just need the right calming tools to help them feel prepared for the interview process. The key to success is believing that you already have what it takes, you just need to exercise this confidence and control.  One breath at a time.

So, do you have any tips for helping anxious job seekers? Alternatively, perhaps you are on the hunt for a new opportunity and would like to register with KHM Recruitment? Either way we would love to hear from you so feel free to contact the KHM team on 01763 248337 or email us on info@khmrecruitment.co.uk.

Published by Julie Jones