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You’re Not Alone: Most Fear Something About Job Interviews

By Lin Grensing-Pophal, SPHR  9/10/2013
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Do you get nervous just thinking about an impending job interview? Are you worried that you will be considered overqualified? Do you wake up in the middle of the night worried about the potential tough—or tricky—questions you might be asked?

You’re not alone, according to a national study from Everest College. For an overwhelming majority of Americans, the job interview is a dreaded, stressful ordeal. In fact, 9 out of 10 employed adults say they fear something about the experience. The 2013 Job Interview Anxiety Survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the college.

The telephone survey found that 92 percent of respondents fear something about the interaction.

The biggest fear? Having the jitters, cited by 17 percent. This was followed by:

  • Being overqualified for the job (15 percent).
  • Being stumped by the employer’s questions (15 percent).
  • Being late for the interview (14 percent).
  • Being underqualified (11 percent).

The best advice to relieve some of this anxiety: Be prepared. “Conducting research, anticipating questions and acting professionally are staples that will stand the test of time, regardless of the latest job interview trends,” says John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College.

Another interesting survey finding is that men’s and women’s fears differ in significant ways. While American women are most afraid of being too nervous or not being able to answer a specific question (19 percent for both), American men are most worried about being overqualified (18 percent).

Income also has an impact on how keenly certain anxiety-laden aspects of the interview process are experienced. Those with a household income of less than $50,000 say their greatest fear is being too nervous (22 percent), compared with just 11 percent of those with household incomes over $100,000. Those with household incomes of $75,000 to $100,000 were more likely to not fear anything about the interview, compared with those making between $35,000 and $50,000.

Those with high school degrees ranked being too nervous as their top fear (22 percent), compared with 11 percent of college graduates. But college graduates may be overly confident. “Hiring managers have reported recently that a great number of college graduates lack basic interview skills,” Swartz says. “They take calls, text and can seem disinterested in the entire process.”

Recognizing this, Everest and other colleges are working hard to ensure that graduates have the skills they need for the interview process. “We make certain our graduates are equipped with the necessary tools to handle the interview process with poise and confidence,” Swartz says. “A potential employer wants someone who is friendly, engaged and has done their homework regarding the company. If job seekers implement these tactics and expect to do well during an interview, they will.”

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