Job interviews are ten times worse with anxiety

A student describes how their anxiety has negatively impacted their interview skills and limited their job opportunities.


A few weeks ago, I went to a job interview for a student worker position at the Howard Gittis Student Center.

Several days before the interview, I spent hours reviewing the job description and preparing for potential interview questions.

Once I arrived and saw there were two interviewers, however, I immediately became anxious. Having two sets of eyes on me was twice as intimidating.

As the interview dragged on, I felt my face flush, my breathing accelerate and the room get hotter. I became paranoid that every move I made was being closely examined.

Once the interview ended, I let out a huge sigh of relief, thankful that it was finally over and hopeful that by some miracle, I would get the position. A few days later, I received an email telling me I wasn’t hired. 

In recent job interviews, all I’ve been able to think about is how much I don’t want to be there out of fear of embarrassing myself. 

Thoughts race through my head as I try to come up with the best possible answer to the interviewers’ questions. “Is my face red? Does what I’m saying make sense? When will the interview end? Does the interviewer think I’m incompetent? I’m definitely not getting the job.”

In a perfect world, I would have a script with me so I don’t overthink everything I say. No matter how much I try to prepare, my answers are always somewhat incoherent.

Throughout my life, I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but I didn’t realize the full extent of how much it impacted me until high school. 

In 2018, I was diagnosed with generalized and social anxiety disorders. From that point on, my anxiety continued to worsen to the point where I was having anxiety attacks in public and difficulty maintaining my relationships. 

In job interviews, being put on the spot makes me uncomfortable because I worry about having an anxiety attack mid-interview and ruining my chances of getting hired. 

My poor performance in interviews makes me worry about my future. I worry my anxiety has doomed me to be unemployed after college and that I’m wasting my time trying to obtain a bachelor’s degree that won’t matter.

I’ve been trying to not let my anxiety get in the way of interviews by developing some strategies to prepare, like listening to music beforehand and staying away from things that could overstimulate me, such as strong smells and loud noises. I’m also remembering common interview questions, planning to talk to my psychiatrist about how to cope with my anxiety and reaching out to career counselors for more interview advice.

I remind myself it’s normal to go through many interviews without getting a job. After all, even the most qualified candidates don’t always have an easy time finding them.

My anxiety disorders are something I’ll have to deal with in the long term, but as I continue learning what I should and shouldn’t do in interviews, I’m hopeful that they will become easier for me to face.

I hope one day, I can stay relaxed and not get flustered even if I make a mistake.

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