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Why Do I Get So Nervous During a Job Interview?

I just found “why do I get so nervous during job interview?” among the search terms used to get to this blog.  In fact, there have been quite a few of you looking for help with job interview nerves.  Clearly, being really stressed out by the interview process is not an isolated problem. (To say the least.)

So why do job interviews make us feel really nervous, even if we know we’d be great for the job? A good question indeed. I’ll do my best to come up with some answers – and offer tips to help you fight those annoying interview nerves that may be getting in the way of you getting an offer.

First, let me restate the obvious…job interviews are stressful by nature. None of us like to give up control to others when it comes to something as important as your career. And almost everyone gets interview nerves to one extent or another when they interview – sometimes even the interviewer us nervous!

I hope it helps to learn that most interviewers expect you to be at least a little nervous. But for some of us, the mere thought of being on the answer end of an interview question makes our nerves run wild – way beyond a little nervous! And that can be a problem.

Actors are usually told to take their nerves and turn them into performance energy. It would be great if we could do this in interviews (and it’s worth trying), but then again we don’t get to rehearse our exact words the way actors do.  ;-) For most of us, the only thing we gain from a bad case of interview nerves is a strong desire to run! ;-)

Worst of all…as much as we want to gain control of ourselves and our nerves during an interview, the more we try to control our nerves, the less relaxed we are. But of course what we want more than anything during interviews is to relax and just be ourselves. Luckily there are some things we can do to help. But first let’s answer the question I found…

Why do you get so nervous during job interviews?

  • It’s scary and uncomfortable being judged.
  • It’s scary and uncomfortable being the focus and having to come up with good answers for whatever they ask you.
  • You don’t know what they’re going to ask.
  • You don’t know for sure if what you say is a good answer.
  • You don’t like talking about yourself.
  • You don’t feel comfortable “selling” yourself.
  • You don’t interview every day and so you aren’t sure you know how to do it well.
  • You really need a job.
  • You worry that if you don’t get this job there may not be another chance any time soon.
  • You worry that you’ll sound stupid.
  • You worry there’s something about you or your background they’ll hate.
  • You have no idea exactly what they’re looking for.
  • You hate the idea of being rejected based on just one short meeting.
  • You think you have to be more than you are.

Getting past interview fear and calming your nerves!

Luckily there are ways to help you get enough past the fear to still give a great interview despite your nerves. Actors for instance use those nerves to motivate a more energized and exciting performance. No reasons you can’t do that too!

First and foremost, it helps to demystify that which we can’t control. So make sure to give yourself get a better understanding of the hiring process in general – including what goes on behind the scenes. Add to that stronger interview skills, a belief in yourself and your abilities, and a clear picture of how you match what the employer is looking for and you have a winning combo!

To help with all that here are some posts from the Work Coach Cafe archives. Hopefully they can help you calm at least some of those interview nerves while also improving your interview skills and chances (more tips below these links):

Job Interview Questions and Answers

What’s Your Greatest Strength?

What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

Where Do You See Yourself Five Years from Now?

Handling Some Tough Interview Questions

Explaining Why You Left the Last Job So Soon

How Do I Interview After Being Fired?

How Do I Explain Dropping Out of Law School?

Job Interview Tips

15 Things I Look for When I Interview People

Job Interviews: Practical Tips to Help You Ace That Job Interview

The Single Most Important Thing in Any Job Interview

Please Help Me Ace My Phone Interview!

The Hiring Process: Behind the Scenes 

Who the Heck is Screening Your Resume?

What the Heck Goes On Behind the Scenes After a Job Interview?

10 Impressions You Leave Behind After a Job Interview

~~~

A Few Simple Tips to Help Fight Those Interview Nerves

And finally, if you don’t feel like reading any of those posts (although I hope you read at least a few of them since they give a more detailed understanding that can really help), here are a few quick tips I hope will at least help calm some of those interview nerves:

  • Do some relaxation exercises the night before, when you wake up the morning of the interview, and right before the interview. Gentle, slow deep breathing (in four, hold seven, out eight) is a very good way to help relax your body.
  • Visualize the interview going well and everyone smiling and shaking hands afterward. (You may want to do this a few times prior to the actual interview day.)
  • Practice interviewing beforehand with the help of friends and/or family. Practice a lot until you start to feel more comfortable talking about yourself.
  • Research the company as much as possible to help you feel on top of things and answer intelligently. This will also help you come up with good questions to ask.
  • Prepare stories ahead of time that speak to the employer’s needs and not simply toward your wants or interests.  (Best of all is when they coincide.)
  • Now that you’ve done all that, on the day of the interview…trust in yourself and let it all go. It’s already inside you and will be there when you need it. Remember to
    • Be in the moment (not thinking ahead or about what was just said)
    • Listen carefully to what you’re asked
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you need it
    • And most of all just be yourself. (I know from my own experience as an interviewer, this will help make the interview better for everyone.)

Just remember: You are fine exactly as you are and have things to offer your potential employer that no one else can. Your only job during the interview is to help them see who you really are. You don’t have to be anyone else.

If nothing else works: Give yourself permission to fail. That’s right…tell yourself it’s ok if you answer every single question completely wrong and come out looking like a complete idiot. You might also tell yourself this is just practice and it doesn’t really matter to help ease some of the tension. Then just say “what the hell”, be yourself, and go for it!

I know this sounds crazy – and easier to say than do – but I guarantee you’ll come off looking more natural and more interesting than if you go in all stiff and self-conscious trying so hard to be perfect – especially since you have no idea what that really means to them! Spontaneous and relaxed are a powerful team once you’ve prepared ahead of time and know who you are.

And anyway…who wants to work for a boss who is so uptight you’re afraid to be yourself. ;-)

Well…that’s all for now. Good luck finding a job that’s right for you!

~ Ronnie Ann

 

About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

Comments

  1. Also don’t forget that a certain amount of nervous energy can be helpful in an interview—or in any situation. It keeps you alert, on your toes and in the moment. You listen more closely because you’re anxious about doing well. And honestly, if you seem too relaxed, it can come off as blasé or, worse, arrogant.

    Still, you don’t want to be all Barney Fife jittery. When I was first teaching, I was told that doing something physical—vigorously erasing the blackboard at the start of a class, for instance—could burn off nervous energy and help you relax. Walking very briskly to your interview or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator [as long as you’re sure you can exit the stairwell!] can serve the same purpose. Just make sure you’re not all sweaty or out of breath as a result.

  2. What brings about job interview jitters? Think about your mindset:

    * As advertised, the job is just too perfect for you, and with the type of company you REALLY want to work for. You’re too uptight about giving an answer to a question that you only *perceive* might be the one that will determine if you’re a finalist or not.
    * You’re out of work and you really need to land a job. So, this is front of mind as you walk in the door for the interview.

    Just to name a couple of examples.

  3. Terry B: Excellent reminder Terry. Nervous energy can be converted to positive energy. And agree…no one wants to hire a limp rag.

    Often, when a person relaxes enough, they can let their true self shine through, and that should include energy! Nerves can sometimes drain and divert a person’s natural energy. Some people know how to use the nerves and turn it into excitement – but for many, the nerves just mask part of who they really are. So take those deep breaths, do your visualizations, and let your real self shine through with energy galore!

    Rick: Thanks for adding to the conversation. You’re so right about how perfect those ads can make a job sound. When I used to interview for jobs, I sometimes would look at the ad and get scared for a minute and then remind myself that it’s just a job with real daily activities I can handle.

  4. I am going to have to up my mock interview practice. It is the only way.

  5. Hi AJ!

    Sorry I didn’t get to your other comment yet. It’s been hectic around here. Yes…it helps to practice and to maybe even watch yourself on video if you can. But the trick is to practice and then let it go when you actually interview so you feel natural and totally in the moment. Show you can really listen and take your time to answer what they ask. Some people memorize lines and it comes off stiff and unreal. Most of all, believe in yourself.

    Best if luck, AJ! Please let us know how it’s going. I know you can do it. ;-)

  6. Hi,
    Great advise !!! Thank you
    So I have a question for you? I work for the district at a school as a finance manager everyone got fired and we have to reapply for our position which I did and guess what I did not get because my nerves got in the way but no one else got it either not because I don’t know my job so I think!!! But I’m in an unique situation where is there is two high schools one property we have a new principal who really does not know my work ethic and there is the other principal who i feel does not like me so much, it is complicated. I would really like your opinion on if I should apply once again since no one got the job, and as a note I am working as a finance manager but everyone had to reapply in order to keep it. Sincerely much thanks.

    • Hi Karla!

      Unfortunately there are too many details and nuances I don’t know. If it were me, I’d put on my most positive “we can make this work” attitude and try again. What’s to lose at this point? And you never know when your timing is just right – no matter what else might be going on. If you can muster the nerve to speak with both principals and let them see what positive, resourceful energy you bring to the job, it might help. Or if you know someone who can help you understand what happened and what might get you the job back, might be a great time to network.

      I wish you much luck. Don’t let the fear of being rejected again (I know great people who have been rejected many times ;-) ) stop you from trying.

  7. Hello I just wanted to share my problems with interviews. I have really really bad anxiety and every time I get an interview I end up not going because my anxiety blocks me from going. And I was just wondering what is a good way for me to brake to make my anxiety to go away. Thank You.

    • Hi Jimmy,

      Most of us are anxious about interviews, but not showing up for an interview is not a helpful way to deal with the situation.

      My recommendation is to do three things:

      1. Look at each interview as a two-way street.

      You want to know more about them as much as they want to know more about you. It’s a learning opportunity for everyone. Would this be a good match for both “sides” of the table? That’s really the core issue in a job interview, but many job seekers lose track of it in their concern to give a great performance.

      You’ll have an opportunity to see inside an employer’s offices or premises, meet their employees, and find out what they do. You’ll have a chance to ask questions to find our more about them and to decide if you want to work for them. Maybe you don’t, but you won’t know until you go there to see them and to ask your questions of them.

      2. Understand that you don’t have anything to lose but time.

      Worst case, you’ll decide that you don’t want to work there, or they’ll decide that they don’t want to hire you. Either way, you come out OK when it is over. No harm; no foul. You’ll probably never see those people again, unless you want to.

      And interviewing, particularly for someone who is introverted or shy, is something that gets easier with practice.

      So, worst case – you’ll have more practice at interviewing when you are done, and you’ll do better next time. Best case – you’ll have a job offer!

      3. Take the time to be well-prepared.

      We know the common interview questions that get asked. Write down your answers. Practice them at home. Say them out loud, maybe in front of a mirror, maybe not. It’s good to get feedbck on your answers which means saying your answers to someone else (which is great practice). Say them out loud until you can do it relatively comfortably without reading them.

      Do some research on how to answer the questions. You’ll find MANY excellent articles written by Ronnie Ann here on WorkCoachCafe.com about answering interview questions – just look in the right column or click on “Career Topics” at the top of the page and then select “How to Answer Annoying Job Interview Questions” to find help.

      If you can get professional help with your interviewing techniques – someone knowledgeable to practice on – that would be most effective for you. If you are in the USA, find your local Career OneStop Center. You’ll get free, professional help there. Pick your location from the options on America’s Service Locator.

      Bottom line:

      Everyone is nervous in an interview, and employers know that and take it into consideration. Know that you will screw up. Everyone screws up. It is NOT fatal!

      Go for it, Jimmy. You CAN do this! You MUST do this – your other options for making a living are limited – so go for it!

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! Stay in touch.

      Good luck!
      Susan

  8. As a recent college graduate(engineering), this site is truly a gem among gems for me. Thank you for posting this brilliant information.

  9. Even though i never really did answer any interview questions well before, now i am required to do the job of interviewing groups of people who wants to be in a band. Some how it feels as though i am in no position to interview them when i cant answer those questions well myself and this website served as a guidance as to what to expect.

    However, due to huge number of request for a band position i was told by superior to really make the interview a difficult one so as to seek out potential committed members for the band. I do not want to discourage those who are similar to me who holds real passion in joining a band but almost not able to answer interview questions well. Is there a way i can do to achieve that goal?

    Alwin

  10. hi ..i have just completed my mba in hr and on a look out for a job…i had done my internship in a hospital and my father is a doctor so when ever i go for an interview for instance in an IT company ..the interviewer asks me “why did you choose a hospital for internship….is it coz your dad is a doctor he must have got you that internship..huh”….(obviously he did coz i needed to start with my internship immediately)…how to tackle such questions as i always get stuck up ..i feel the interviewer makes me feel im useless and ran to my dad for an internship…!!!

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Raghav,

      There’s no need to disclose in any interview — who your father is and that he helped you get an internship. What is important if you are changing fields or industry sector (the example you give is from healthcare to IT), you need to be able to say what led you to decide to pursue the change — and why you want to work in a new capacity.

      In other words, what it is about IT that is a good fit for you, what skills do you have, and how do you hope to put them to work.

      Good luck,
      Chandlee

      • thanks a bunch for the reply !!…the problem arises when they first begin by asking about my family…so i need to mention my father’s occupation…and they notice the internship thing in my CV so i kind of mess up..any tip you can give in that matter??

        • chandlee says:

          Raghav,

          Not sure where you are applying for work. But in the U.S., there are strict guidelines on what you may ask and what you may not. And one of the things you can’t ask is about cultural background or marital status. You don’t need to mention your father’s occupation, or you could simply say he’s a scientist — which is also true. You can also say, “my family is in good health and I visit them regularly but spending time with them doesn’t conflict with my work obligations” if this is in fact true.

          Good luck!

          Best,
          Chandlee

          • That’s interesting. I have been raised in the U.S. all my life but born overseas and people ask strange thing anyway. Yes, I usually never get asked about race but I have been asked about my cultural background during a job interview three times. I don’t know how to answer so I just tell the truth what my race is. A male manager once asked me what language I speak.Twice asked me what nation I was from. I got the job in all cases but seems strange. Another time I was asked my an itnerview how I got a job in my previoius jobs which had nothing to do with the current role I was interviewing and its in the past. These were mostly asked by highly competitive males. I always thought that was the strangest question. I replied I was the best person for the job. There is envy/jeaslousy that that overcomes people. It’s so highly competitive.

          • Dear Goforth,

            It sounds like you’ve been asked some interview questions that are illegal to ask. Here’s a list of these questions — and ones you can. A great way to avoid answering the question how you got the job is to instead say how you FOUND OUT about the job. Since you weren’t on the interviewing committee, you can’t say for sure WHY you got the job over someone else!

            Good luck and all the best,
            Chandlee

  11. Hello there: I am considering two different positions. I want some help in deciding which one.

    I have a consulting background.

    1) The first role at a smaller consulting firm which is ahead in interviews is offering me a lot more money, a better title, and bonus but it requires weekly travel but just a few hours and back but with more money comes more stress with travel. It reports into someone high level. They have been nothing but nice to me from the get go.

    2) The other position is with a huge congolmerate(stable company) but reports into a mid-level manager. The director thinks I am overqualified but I told them I need to learn their company first. The job is 20 minutes from my house. It doesn’t pay as much but its with a big company that is viable. They are so slow though in their interviews. I told them to hurry up and now they are getting rolling. The reporting role up may be too low for me. I need to check on how challenged I will be.

    I like the people in both firms. Both report into good people. I’m a little confused as to which one to go with.. take the $?
    Can you provide some insight into how to assess which company is a right fit? Also, I have 13 years of experience. My goal is to move up the corporate ladder as quickly as possible. So, big company I may be stuck and have to work my way to the top for many years. It’s not easy once you in the company.

    Can you help with suggestions? Thank you!

  12. Also, 2nd company comes with some equity plus the bonus and the stock is stable. Ideally 2nd company is the way to go but I am afraid of going into a large firm at that level as its hard to work upward. I could wait a few years and then re-apply after 2 years and get in at a higher level.

  13. The initial words from the article “Why Do I Get So Nervous During a Job Interview?” was WAY apropos to what I just went through; a rambling diatribe during a phone interview. One would think that having notes at one’s side would have greatly assisted, but my mind can, literally, go blank….WAY frustrating. I wish I could just be told a hilarious off-color (my favorite kind) joke so that I would lighten-up. I agree that one needs to rehearse, rehearse and rehearse before ANY interview so that one’s examples are so indelibly etched into one’s mind that no case of nerves will stop you from retrieving them.

    • Hi Samuel,

      Here are three strategies I recommend for overcoming anxiety/nervousness before any interview.

      1. Tell yourself the employer wants to hire you. Otherwise, they would not likely invite you to be interviewed.

      2. Find at least three other jobs that are currently open that you are qualified for. Keep a list of them. This may help you feel like there are more options available.

      3. Make a playlist — in advance — of songs you find that relax you and make you feel positive and optimistic.

      Good luck!

      All the Best,
      Chandlee

  14. Stephanie says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for this insight! I am preparing for a second interview at a CPA firm (with the audit partner and 5 other staff — yikes—-) but you have helped assuage my fears! They’re still there but I feel like they’re a bit more controllable.

    Thanks so much!!

    //Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Good luck and keep us posted. Play some nice music before your interview, then take three deep breaths before you walk in.

      All the Best,
      Chandlee

  15. Competitive says:

    Hi Chandlee,
    I need some help in job offers. I had a permanent job offer with a firm that requires me to travel 2 hours away. The firm is based there but they lliked me a lot and said its ok I travel there every week and still live in my state which I thought was nice but the travel is tough so I said no I prefer to stay local and I have job offers here. They really wanted me to work there.

    I now have last round interviews at local firims but due to the recession there is so much competition and the firms are not closing the rounds to make an offer so now I’m stuck.

    What do I do? Go back to Firm A that I declined and tell them that their offer was the best or wait this painful process out with the local firms. These are locl contract jobs. not perm. but at least I get to stay local.

    It’s been a few weeks now and just aren’t moving.. I don’t know what to do. The recession is horrible and its so tough to find a job..

    Can you provide some advice?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Competitive,

      It appears you’ve asked a similar question twice with the same email address. The answer for the second question is the same as the first which I’ve already provided.

      Good luck and all the best,
      Chandlee

  16. I need some help.

    Firm A offered me a job that requires travel so I declined it indicating that there were local jobs.

    The local jobs are contract jobs and are not moving now into offers.

    So the classic, bird in the hand vs. 2 in the bushel is appropriate here.

    I am stuck now.. Should I go back to firm A and ask for re-consideration or should I stick it out?

    My personal goals are to settle down as well so I don’t know how to approach this issue.

    I’d appreciate some help!
    Thank You!

    • Idealism,

      You can always try but realize that they may not be comfortable with your change of heart. I’d come prepared with a convincing argument on why you plan to live where you want to live. And why you are now open to the offer. Be careful, though — you don’t want it too look like this company was your back-up plan.

      Good luck,
      Chandlee

  17. Chandlee,
    Thank you for the advice. I decided to stick to my intial decisions. I think the travel is not too healthy and I’ll keep looking for the right local opportunities.
    Thanks again!
    Idealism

  18. Hi Chandlee,
    I have an issue with a agency who is not being honest about a requisition with a big client. My interview with the hiring manager went really well.

    I hadan excellent interview with a hiring manager who wanted me to come in to do a face to face interview. All was fine and then the agency tells me that they want a phone interview and then the interviewer never calls me.
    Now the agency is playing phone tag with this big client or so he says and he continues to tell me he is in conference calls with the client and then that he will get back to me on status of my candidacy. It’s been awhile now and the agency hasn’t called back. This could all be a lie from the agency. I do believe the client likes my background.

    This agency doesn’t appear to have a good relationship with this client or someone on the team does not like them.
    I have asked another agency to represent meto this client in the interim but they are cautiously proceeding with that.

    The reason is that I’m one of the few in my area that has this skill set. Just goes to show that one cannot trust an agency. They sometimes do not tell the truth. Also, its an Indian agency and they tend to be dishonest at times. I have learned my lesson.

    Any suggestions on how to handle this?
    Thanks!

    • Dear Worried,

      Why don’t you apply directly with firms instead of applying through third-party recruiting agencies? If you apply directly, then the employer has a lower cost to hire you…

      I’d recommend you refrain from making negative comments about others in public — especially ones that could be construed as stereotyping. I’d avoid making statements such as “this group tends to be dishonest” anywhere. Want an example of the damage such remarks can cause? Just ask a politician!

      Best,
      Chandlee

      • Dear Chandlee,
        I am applying directly with firms as well. I have had dozens of interviews via this method as well. The reason I made that statement about the agency is that I am indian myself. I know from first hand experience and from dealing with these indian agencies they do tend to be dishonest. I’m asian myself:-) Also, this is the first experience of its kind in my career where the response hasn’t been given.

        And I still haven’t heard from the agency:-)

        Thanks,
        Worried.

        • Dear Worried,

          Thanks for follow-up and full explanation. That said, I still advise NEVER ever making disparaging remarks or comments on stereotypes about groups in writing on a website or anywhere else that it can be picked up and potentially used against you.

          I’d advise you to keep your focus on the job search. If you distrust an agency, can you apply directly instead or seek out other firms? And I’d encourage you to seek out more than one opportunity in general. Applying for multiple opportunities expands your chances…

          Good luck!

          Sincerely,
          Chandlee

  19. I am an engineer, recently over the last 6 months I have failed my accreditation, some of the questions where relatively straight forward, some that little more tricky which leaves me to search for a flustered non cohearant answer which leaves all confused on what I am actually trying to say, my nerves are in pieces and has now left me with no confidence what so ever, I have to repeat this accreditation or lose my job. I read all requirements but still leaves my memory empty. Any help from you be, at least, give me back my confidence

    • Simon,

      Oh, that’s a tough spot to be in. I don’t think we can solve your problem in a few sentences, but I am sure there are people who can help you. I recommend getting help on two fronts:

      1. Hire a tutor who has passed the exam…
      2. You may also want to see a coach or psychologist who can help you deal with your feelings of getting overwhelmed and feeling as if you have an empty memory.

      Organizations such as Toast Masters can help you improve your speaking skills.

      I’d also recommend doing something outside of engineering that makes you feel very good about your own skills as that may help you increase your confidence. You may also want to write a list of all your accomplishments…outside of engineering as well. Remember that — even in the worse case scenario — you could still find another job that you enjoy, too.

      Good luck and all the best,
      Chandlee

  20. When I interview I tend to sweat. I always carry a handkerchief during my interview just in case. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Wes,

      Have you ever tried meditating or listening to relaxing music before an interview? If not, try that — and three deep breaths before you go in. Good luck!

      Best,
      Chandlee

  21. HI Chandlee,
    I really really need a job. I have 2 job interviews right now. One looks good but this is a client who was very negliant in not getting back to my candidacy via another vendor.
    But I was persistent and went to another vendor and they got me in and I am making headway but the rate is not high at all with no benefits.
    The work in great but the rate is so low and a conract rate. The other option is to wait out Interview #2 and see what my options are between the two. I cannot wait any longer though I am desperate for a job finanancially.

    I don’t want to pressure interview #2 yet to make a decision. I am asking interview #1 to wait a day.

    Even though the rate is low worse case scenario shoudl I take it? I think so as its temp. and I could move on.. with that experience in a few months.

    What do you think?

    • Jiajue,

      Not sure what you mean by interviews and offers — if you have an offer, let the other employer know you have know and tell them when you need to report back.

      If the rate is lower than is ideal but you need some money, get started working and keep your eyes open.

      Good luck and all the best,
      Chandlee

      • Thank you very much for responding. I did just that. I let the other firm know they are my preference but I have another offer. They were very receptive.

  22. Hi Chandlee,
    I told the preferred firm that had another offer and but I’m still interested in them as my first preference. Guess what they did. Intially they said to me last week that they wanted me to come in again and conduct another round of interviews but with people who don’t even have work in my area. I had interviewed with everyone twice already. Recruiter called me today that they are not moving forward with the last round! Only because I told them I had another offer???

    I asked the recruiter what the real reason was and he had no reason. He wanted to stay in touch as the other practice grows. What this sounds like is just ego on their perspective.

    Luckily I have the other opportunity to fall back on but what losers to do that. The management is primarily very aggressive males. The one female was awesome but I think they are full of themselves if they do that.

    They are extremely picky in who they select. I went from Please come in to interview to We don’t want you to come in at all because you told us you have another offer. Sounds immature to me.

    What do you think? I think its very immature.
    Thanks,

  23. Also, my intuition tells me that they may have not had the roles that they claim to have which is why they are leading me on to multiple interviews. That’s all I think of in terms of why they would just drop someone like that. The recruiter on the other hand wants to stay in touch as they develop the dept. that I fit in.

    • JiaJue,

      Ah, how frustrating. If you have the firm’s direct contact information you may want to follow up with them directly. Let them know you were saddened by their decision as they were your first choice firm but that you certainly understand.

      On the whole, it’s entirely possible that the decision has nothing to do with you but rather that they aren’t ready to hire just yet for business reasons. If you can, don’t see going with the other offer as a sign of weakness — see all this interest in you as something to feel good about.

      Good luck,
      Chandlee

  24. Additionally, I think this all depends on how the HR recruiter I told conveyed the information to the hiring managers. I told him specifically to state that my choice was that company. Whether or not he did I have no idea but he did call and let me know they are moving on. he doen’t appear negliant or dumb so I would give him the benefit of the doubt that he said that.

    In my past experience once, I had a recruiter mess up the conversation with the client because of what he conveyed to the client.

    I hate 3rd party communications.

  25. Hi Chandlee,
    Quick question,
    I was in an interview and the partner said to me in a deragatory way “You have to sell yourself” and you cannot just sell the framework or model”. To me, this sounded so weird. I am a female. I have never in my career heard this type of commentary from anyone or in an interview. It’s understood in a consulting services we are selling ourselves and robotics or robots don’t exist. The work doesn’t get done by robots. The partner is a Asian conservative male and possibly grew up in Asia. TO me it made sense the commentary could be cultural. He was also running in and out of the conference room and he was the only one as if he was in Hong Kong or something. This is all a way of showing authority.. Weakness in my point of view.
    I felt like throwing up after the interview. I’m glad I didn’t get the job. Did he cross the line? I think so. In American business culture we don’t say things like that..

    • Hi Mikal,

      As I wasn’t in the interview and didn’t hear how he said it, I can’t possibly say what he meant by that — especially since I don’t know the tone of voice he used or have a sense of what you are applying for. Perhaps what he meant was that you have to say what makes you unique and how you offer value as an individual — not as a member of the team.

      It sounds to me like the two of you simply didn’t connect. That happens sometimes, and it sounds like you may not have been a good fit for working together due to your different styles. No matter how you feel now, I think it’s much less painful to find this out in the interview process than it is later on after you get the offer.

      Good luck!

      All the Best,
      Chandlee

      • Hi Chandlee,
        Thank you!!!! Yes, I didn’t like him at all!!! I usually don’t dislike the interviewer that much so I do think his soft skills are off. Most interviewers try to make the interviewee feel comfortable as possible. What’s interesting is that this firm sent me a HR questionaire via email for ethnic and sex survey on hiring.. Hmmm. I’m glad I didn’t get that job.

        best,

  26. Hi Chandlee,
    Well, remember the role with the offer that I had. Well, now the hiring manager is saying that they want to interview me again. So, what they said about offering closing is not closing yet. The recruiter is continually contacting this hiring manager who was supposed to call me today and he hasn’t called and is going on vacation. I wish I had known accurately from the recruiter that this hiring manager is so unprofessional and cannot make a decision. I let a good opportunity go by telling the other firm I had an offer and mid interviews they indicated they weren’t interested. What is wrong with these people???

    The reality is that the project won’t start until he approves the headcount and me so the ball is in his court and he cannot make a decision sounds like.. This is disgusting but I have this lined up now.

    In the meantime, I will continue to look at have two other interviews lined up.. This is a horrible situation. What I’ve learned is that never push a client to make a decision by telling them you have an offer!

    • Also, my intution is telling me that this indecisive hiring manager is a little scared of hiring someone who may have a lot of experience. The irony is that I interviewed with him before and he never got back to that vendor and now a new vendor who is tasked with getting the resources presented me to him again and he’s being a slacker again.. . Just a guess on the behaviorial issues as it makes no sense.

      Time will tell as now he has no way out now. He has to provide a response.

  27. Chandlee,
    I’m trying to win a job interview/offer back. I dropped out of the running becauas I needed more time to think it through.. I was scared. I went back to the recruiter and the firm indicated that they want to wait unitl Jan. to open it up .I did email the hiring manager asking for “forgiveness” and to jump back in.
    The problem is this recuiter is not good at the facilitation and fighting for my candidacy…so I emailed the hiring maanger directly….It’s a lot of money.. He should work for it.
    I can only ask them once let’s see what they say…

    THanks for your help.

  28. Hi – I need some advice please. I had an interview with 6 scheduled folks and at teh end the hiring manager added in more. What I didn’t get is that the hiring manager when I first brought into his office. He just started rattling off and writing on the board and when I started to speak he wasn’t focusing on what I’m saying as he was pounding on his blackberry. Bad manners but he did say he was checking so that I didn’t miss my next meeting.

    Then after my last interview he wanted to meet with me again and talk more and then he spoke and rattled off and then when I started to speak he kept looking at his time on his watch. Somethiing tells me this guy has attention deficient or ADD. He ran off to a meeting and then his 5 direct reports came in… He also mentioned the 90 day starting off working well.. etc.

    All looks postive but I couldn’t understand the lack of attention.. ALL the other interviewers looked extremely interested and he showed me where the coffee room was.. so the statement at the end was we’ll be in touch…. Sounds like he’s interested by adding in his other reports but maybe he’s proceeding with caution..

  29. Ok , I was right he wasn’t interested.. Sounds like he never was interested the first minute I walked in the door but wasted everyone’s time.. including his own and his staff.. The Personality did not connect.

    Plus his staff indicated they worked on the weekends sometimes which sounded like the dept. is not being managed effectively. Sounds unusual.

    Glad I didn’t get it.

  30. Hello there: Chandlee,
    I have a basic question regarding consulting interviewing. I’m finding my interviews are asking consulting questions that would normally be chargeable time for valuable information. They are using the interviews for free consulting advice. I am answering the questions to be polite but at some point I have to state and if you hire me I can advise further. They are asking me how they should organizationally manage certain work.. etc. But, the twist is they don’t hire me. What is going on?

    Knowledge is the world’s biggest commodity.

    Thank you for your time.
    Shane

    • Shane,

      Consulting is tricky; if you are applying with large companies you should not be running into this challenge. If you are running into the problem, perhaps you could answer part of the question — and then say “I’d use _________, ____________, and ___________ to analyze the issue and prepare recommendations if hired.” (insert technologies, techniques, or consulting research methods in ________.)

      Good luck and all the very best,
      Chandlee

  31. Hello:
    I could use your advice. I have committed to a 3 month project and this was hard to get and now I have an employer with a good company who is interested in hiring me into a permanent role.

    I still have to go through the interviews but he wants me to join quickly. I could spread the interviews out. I told him I am committed to a 3 month project. I will try my best to end earlier..

    How do I keep him interested and also not lose credability with the other firm by bailing out of the proejct early? Also, in this market I need to take care of myself and take the perm. job.

    Thanks.Chan

  32. Hi Chandlee

    I enjoyed reading your blog about nervous at interviews, and related to it all! I panic so much in past interviews last one being 6 years back. I have now got a business interview to become a franchisee with a global brand and I really want to work with the business. I am really worried that I will mess it up at the interview, as my mind tends to go blank and I go red faced which is such a give away! Do business interviews differ from job interviews? Are they more relaxed or should I expect the same kind of stress questions? I am not sure if I should take past business performance i.e like account figures with me? Or some kind of presentation?

    Thanks
    Kay

    • chandlee says:

      Kay,

      Ask in advance if there are any materials you should bring to the interview. As for the nerves thing, do something that relaxes you in advance — i.e. a hot bath, a massage, soothing music, etc.

      Remind yourself that you will be fine if the arrangement doesn’t go smoothly…and when they ask you what you’re not good at — you can always say “interviewing” and then talk about how you are a better < >.

      Good luck and all the best,
      Chandlee

  33. I need some advice. I had an internal interview today which I was really looking forward to ..it had all the offerings of my dream job.

    I was dressed correctly, feeling good and I arrived 5 minutes early and no one else was there. There were three people interviewing me and one arrived on time, one five minutes late and then another 10 minutes later which kept disrupting the flow of the conversation and my train of thought. Is this some kind of tactic or just people being late?

    I brought my portfolio of work and began pulling out items to demonstrate what I had done. The pile got a bit messy and they asked me to stop pulling the materials out of my book and just to send them some pdfs. Was pulling the items out a mistake?

    They then asked me a peculiar question — what did I not like about working there … I stated, honestly, nothing as I loved working there and was only looking to use all of my abilities which this opportunity seemed to offer in the posting. What was the point of this question – is this a typical question?

    They then offered to answer my questions and five minutes into the discussion the hiring manager made a few comments about how the person they were looking for was not a jack of all trades and master of none .. he then got up, gave me a quick smile, mumbled he had another meeting – shook my hand and left. Should I interpret this to mean he was referring to me as not filling the bill?

    After he left the other two said if I had more questions I could stay and they would answer them however, I was a bit shaken by his parting comment and abrupt departure and simply asked about next steps. I picked up my samples, made small talk for a moment, shook their hands, expressed my keen interest in the job, thanked them and left.

    Upon reflection I admit I may not have answered their questions as thoroughly or as brilliantly as I could have (nerves) but I came in feeling confident and left not feeling so good.

    I’m not sure how to interpret the items described above – are these some kind of new interview tactics or was this just a bad interview. I haven’t been on an interview in a while so I am a bit confused about how I should proceed with my thank you letter .. do I rebut some of the items mentioned above or ignore them and send the standard thank you and if I don’t get the job chalk it up as experience for the next one … thoughts?

    • Hi Soona,

      I wasn’t there and don’t know the people that you met with, so I can’t make any assumptions. That said, it doesn’t sound like a pleasant interviewing environment of that you felt that you were taken seriously. I recommend following up with a simple thank you note — let them know you are happy to send samples of your work in PDF format upon request.

      In the interim — as you wait to hear back — I would recommend that you keep looking. Sounds like it may be a dream job but not the right environment.

      All the Best,
      Chandlee

  34. Chandlee,

    I’ve read the whole thing and agreed whole heartedly. I just got interviewed for an internal position and my nerves got the better of my half way through and I ended up crying because of pure nerves. The interviewers were completely cool with this and we continued through the interview. They said things like, “this is right up your alley” and “great answer” throughout the whole interview. Were they just being polite or despite my nerves overtaking me midway did they genuinely like what I had to say?

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Tabby,

      Well, since I wasn’t there, I don’t know if they were being polite or genuinely liked what you said. My guess is probably a little of both, which is often the case in any interview. Those comments tend to calm nerves and help the job seeker to relax.

      I would continue to look for other jobs because a better one might be waiting for you. I would also try very hard not to cry in the next interview. With experience, you should be able to relax more, and it will be much easier to avoid crying.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  35. Good reading post. So far i’ve had 2 interviews (over 6 months) plus one this coming week, for perm positions and haven’t gotten anywhere (on contract atm looking for perm). Plus don’t know whether they will be able to extend my current contract (if my contract doesn’t renew then let it be). I’ve identified this as the main reason of me getting so nervous before a job interview, as there may not be another perm position time anytime soon and am focusing positions closer to home (at least considering a contract closer to home in the worst case scenario.)

    Vent over. Sorry about the rant.

  36. Hi Susan,
    Question; I was in a job interview and the hiring manager wanted to hire me and HR approved me as well. The issue was that when I interviewed with the VPs they asked me why I was applying and one walked out indicating I was not a fit. I had mentioned to them then why did the hiring manager indicate I was a fit and I was great for the growth of the company. This was a difference of opinion.

    I did mention all this to the talent acquisition. They invited me to interview with recommendation from the hiring manager. They were a bit astonished.

    The most ironic thing is that when I looked at the VPs linked in background it was almost identical to my background in management consulting which he was telling me was not a fit for the role:-) . This told me two things 1) I may be overqualified for the position and he knows that given the breadth of the experience. 2) They want someone to fit in a 2 by 2 within that role 3) Politics and ego

    It was quite disturbing and waste of the candidates time in terms of the organizational dysfunctionality.

    Hiring is so subjective. Who is right the hiring manger who thinks I’m a great fit or the VP who has the same background as I do who thinks I’m a bad fit.

    Interesting politics.

    Thanks,
    Ture

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Yes, Ture, hiring is VERY subjective and political, unfortunately! Perhaps the VP viewed you as a threat. Hard to tell what his problem was – as usual – maybe you remind him of someone in his past who made his life miserable.

      Thank the hiring manager for his/her time and encouragement and (if you want to work for this employer some day) to let you know when there is another opening. Perhaps that VP will be gone by then.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

      • Thank you. Great answer Susan! He was an SVP. Well, I checked his background and he has worked in the same industry as I but for a competitive firm so you are right he knows I could be a potential threat . What was weird was he just walked out when I mentioned all my accomplishments. Thank you.

  37. Hi Susan!
    I have started a new role in an executive position. I work for a very Sr. Exec.who has asked me not to talk to specific people to get work done. He’s indicating that someone else should get in touch with that person..

    I am not sure why he is trying to limit my interaction with some folks when its part of my role to talk to everyone.. COuld this be a sign of insecurity? I think so. When I spoke up and mentioned that, I need to talk to them to do my job he keeps asking me “you are not in touch with this person are you”? Seems kind of freaky to me..

    I am a female and the others are all male.. What are really weird guy?

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Mandy,

      This does sound a bit odd, but sometimes there is something called a “chain of command” which needs to be respected. That basically means there is a hierarchy that is used. Sometimes that works well (in the military, for example), and sometimes it doesn’t.

      The other possibility is that your boss is in a vulnerable position – or feels that he is – so he’s afraid you will cause him problems by speaking directly with his peers (the chain of command issue). If he doesn’t want you talking directly with people who work for him or who are lower in the corporate hierarchy than he is, then that is pretty odd.

      Keep your antennas up and your LinkedIn Profile fresh.

      Good luck with this!
      Susan

      • Hi Susan,
        He’s trying to prevent me from talking to certain people but that didn’t last very long.
        But, he’s a really weird guy. Sometimes he requests that before I send out an email to someone and that he and another guy I work with review my email and then I can send it out and even a meeting request. . I said No twice and was direct. He appears to be backing off..

        We are in a modern age and people have started companies out of garages. Its the day of empowerment.. I feel sorry for him, because for someone at his level as VP to do that seems like he is soo insecure and has no life. So sad for a human being to spend time with that.

        What is wrong with these men? Again, I am the only woman in a Exec. role..

        • Susan P. Joyce says:

          Hi Mandy,

          It sounds like this guy is very insecure, and there are probably many things going on that you haven’t become aware of yet.

          If you don’t have any other great opportunities in your back pocket (and I’m assuming you don’t), put your 12 months in for this job, increasing your network very carefully, and then move on.

          Yes, some men are very uncomfortable with women in the executive suite, but as older me retire, it will get a bit easier – a bit! And some older me are great. It’s the personalities and the corporate culture.

          Think about questions you could have asked during the interview process that will enable you to avoid a similar situation in the future.

          Good luck with this situation!
          Susan

          • HI Susan,
            Yes, I’ve decided to start looking for another job.. It’s only been a month that I’ve been in this role but the “president” Supposedly executive has obsessive compulsive disorder.

            I don’t think he’s normal. The other day in a meeting he started the meeting attacking me about an email for HR calculations. Then, I stated wjhy are you asking me about a little calculation that’s HR’s responsibility.. I want to discuss the meeting deliverables that I was hired for. I realized that he was trying to undermine me and find any way to make himself feel better. He reacted very rudely by stating that I don’t have math skills and I did XYZ in my previous jobs….. I told him that if I work for him he better respect my skillset otherwise I won’t be there..

            The issue with him is mind games and control. I think I have proved my worth to much of the staff and he’s feeling very insecure. he spends 100% of his time on email analysis and does not speak on the phone.. He basically insulted me and why I have no reason.

            I don’t think he’s stable person. Nor does he have the breath of experience that is able to manage knowledge workers in the modern age. He’s quite sheltered and analyzing emails all day long..

            I hope I am making the right decision.. but the guys seems like a big loser. If I intimidated him my experience and knowledge that is a pretty insecure guy.. There is no sense in staying there because he will continue to attack me personally even when I’m doing well.

          • Susan P. Joyce says:

            Tough situation, Mandy. Sounds like leaving is the right move, hopefully soon, so this job is only a blip in your career.

            I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!
            Susan

          • Hi Susan,
            I left right away. He started retailing. I was right he has obsessive compulsive disorder.. ..I’ll find something else. Thank you for your support. All my friends indicate I did the right thing. I will take your advice and ask more questions about mgt. style. One thing I have to watch out for is single middle aged men with no life. Its interesting in the interview process one guy who has worked with him told me he had kids and values work life balance. Another guy told me he has no kids and isn’t married. (I thought that was interesting how one person lied to get me onboard)

            People who are married and slightly older than me tend to be much happier but again depends on personal traits and professional behavorial issues. I will be more careful.
            Thank you again

  38. Hello Susan,

    I recently had a phone interview with a company where an old coworker currently works. I emailed the interviewer the next day to thank them and it has now been a week since the interview. I contacted my old coworker to see if there has been any movement with the hiring process of the position. They responded that the interviewer does want to bring me in for an in-person interview, but that I need some coaching first because I sounded naive during the phone interview so they asked my old coworker to coach me. What could this mean that I sounded naive? I have never been told that before. I get very nervous during any type of interview, so maybe this is why I came across that way. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Mary,

      It would be great to get more insight into what was meant by “naive” particularly since you’ve never been told that before. It sounds to me like this might be the sign of bad “chemistry” between you and the person who thinks you are naive if you did work together. Or if that person is typical, it could be that this employer might not be a comfortable place for you to work.

      If you do get asked in for an interview, be sure to ask questions to find out about the “culture.” Also see if you can find out from your former coworker how happy that person is in the environment, and pick up any clues about how comfortable you would be there.

      Good luck with you job search!
      Susan

  39. hi i am a very nervous person when in a interview i not so nervous out and about it just when people look at you and it feels like they are looking through you anyway i have a telephone interview today and i have no idea what i am gonna say i aint even seen the person and i am scared i am never gonna get a job like this i would just like some tip on how i should speak and everything to do with the questions thanks

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Nicola,

      Most everyone is nervous in a job interview, and the people doing the interviewing usually expect that.

      Try to pretend that you are speaking with a new acquaintance.

      The best thing for you to do until the call is to practice answering some of the questions. That will help you feel less nervous and also help you prepare better answers. So, think about how you will answer questions like:

      * Phone interviews

      * Tell me about yourself.

      Be prepared and you’ll do fine. Worst case, you’ll have more practice with phone interviews and do better next time.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  40. Hello Susan,
    I want to ask you a question. I’m at a director level and was asked to do change mgt. at a company. When I brought my ideas into a forum of executives including my boss some of the managers esp. one over 56 years of age was trying to throw me under the bus. My own boss just looked on..

    Something told me that these guys (I was the only female and younger) felt somewhat intimidated by my efforts so soon. When I spoke with the 56 yr old private who ironically was an HR executive he said “you have to prove your creditability”.. I was going to say something smart back but he showed his weakness very well. In my mind, my mission was accomplished I had intimated him so much that he had to say that. My job requires me to do the follow and I’m paid for my services. End of discussion.

    In addition, he said you job is a piece of cake.. I was thinking sure it is.. If he is an HR VP at his old age how successful/smart might this guy really be..

    What amazed me, in all of this is how political he had made my job as the change agent and with road blocks. My boss and he were trying to block me from performing vs. actually supporting me..

    What is wrong with these men? I’m out of there but it seems so bizzare.

    It seems to be bullying tactics “You have to prove your credibility”.. just like in grade school when the new kid on the block joins the class and performs well”, some of the other kids start to harass the kids..
    Social fraternaties are the same way with hazing……

    Some people in the professional workforce haven’t grown up. I’ve learned a lot in the professional world when dealing with some men, this doesn’t change much..

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Janice,

      Being a “change agent” is fraught with risk. Even when change is required and agreed to by everyone as necessary, in my experience, they still throw up roadblocks because most people are afraid of change. So, if you fail, they are fine – the change doesn’t happen (yet, and may never), and someone else (you) is to blame.

      Is there anyone who will gain from the changes? Could that person be your advisor/ally in this project?

      Is there anyone higher up in the organization who could help you? Be VERY careful of jumping up the “chain of command” in an organization, going over your boss’s head, but if he isn’t going to help you, you may not have many options.

      It will probably be very difficult, if not impossible, to succeed without some support.

      Since I don’t know the organization or any of the people involved, it’s hard for me to give you detailed advice on the best strategies. Those are the optoins that popped into my head.

      Keep your LinkedIn Profile updated!

      Good luck!
      Susan

  41. Hi Susan,
    Thank you.. The problem is the person in charge is ping poing responsibility to my boss who is basically inexperienced so I have to teach him my job of change. Everyone in the entire org. is benefiting from the change yet the heads are being political and not cooperating…including my boss My bosses manager requested meeting a month ago and he did not allow me to meet with him to obtain any objectives.

    There are no top level corporate objectives and they are being political without taking responsibility.. I did speak up for myself and am ready to move on from these losers.

    It’s a pre-IPO company, in my opinion the executives esp. boss and his manager came for the IPO. $$$ not for real work.. They are bluffing. If they want to get to work to address the issues they would not play these games..

    In my interviews I am being honest. Change was not accepted here.

  42. By the way, Thank you Susan for your support on these forums! It helps me and I’m sure others greatly. You understand and often I feel better once reassured that I’m the not one at fault. It’s often the environment and politics and fear of people…

    I appreciate it very much!
    Best.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Janice,

      You’re welcome for the support! That’s what WorkCoachCafe is all about. We all need support.

      If I were you, I would be sending email that documents requests for clarification of objectives and support with specific situations. Hopefully, that will force an emailed response. But, worst case, it will document YOUR attempts to get the project moving and the stone-walling you are running into from your boss and others. Email is great for CYA!

      Good luck with this situation!
      Susan

      • I tried that with the boss and it didn’t work. The boss started retaliating indicating I was questioning his authority and scrambling to looking for anything to discredit my work. I proved that he was wrong in every situation. He’s very young and a VP. It’s time to move on from these jokers. I am applying for jobs.

        I am being honest in interviews in terms of the reasons for moving on. Interviewers appear to be understanding.

        Thank you for your support!

  43. Hello there:
    I wanted to know if you had any publications or internet sites I could look at for researching how to deal with angry men in the workplace. I have a very strong personality in management. I am in consulting which is predominately male. I have experienced men who cannot cope with a female authority figure or collegue with an aggressive personality so they will try to yell or become difficult to intimidate. I never back down and want to work with them but they cannot deal with me challenging them so they start to yell. The soft skills are very very poor. I have been yelled at by a few men and I stand my ground and then tell them how unprofessional they behaved and then they apologize and then do it again.

    I have worked with great professional men in other professions who were quite supportive and dynamic.
    It could be this basket of men on these projects are the “trolls” who probably can’t get along with anyone anyway and that’s why they are in consulting. Lack of people skills.

    I have decided to always look for at least one female in executive mgt. which is a good indication that the firm is balanced and it doesn’t then feel like a “developing” nation.

    Thanks for your advice. cheers.

  44. PLEASE HELP!! I cry at every interview I go to. I have practiced, talked to myself in the mirror, read and answered questions over and over out loud and I still tear up when it comes down to the real interview. Tomorrow will be my second interview for an Office Manager for a State job. I was personally told to NOT cry in this second interview, but it is inevitable that I will. I am good for some of the interview, then for whatever reason, I just break down. I have tried breathing tactics, praying, fake interviews with people…everything. Do you have any advice that could possibly help me? Please!!!

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi!

      My best recommendation is to try Dr. Amy Cuddy’s power poses before the interview. They sound a bit wacky, but they actually change the hormone levels in your body to reduce the stress hormones and increase the confidence hormone levels.

      This is the post about when and how to do them — Power Poses to Increase Confidence. Do one now, and see how much better you feel.

      On the day of your interview, do your power pose for a couple of minutes in private, and you WILL feel much better!

      I know people who do these poses when they wake up in the morning to get their days off to a good start, and they are definitely a good idea before a job interview.

      Let me know how it goes for you.

      Good luck with your job interview and job search!
      Susan

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