Interview Anxiety...HELP!

I have a very important interview coming up in front of a panel of 3 people. I know I could do well if I could only control my anxiety. When I’m nervous I have a very hard time talking and visibly appear uncomfortable.

Does anyone have any suggestions or experience with this type of thing? Are there any psychological techniques that might keep me from freaking out and making a total ass of myself? I’m desperate.

I have the same problem.
1.) Stay away from caffeine before the invterview.
2.) Breathe from your stomach.
3.) If possible, get your doc to prescribe a beta-blocker like propranolol.
4.) Remember that what you may think is highly visible to others, chances are that they WILL NOT notice - I thought I was very shaky and insecure when speaking in public until I saw a tape of myself. I looked calm and in control - so don’t let your mind play games on you. You might look better than you think.

Hope this helps.

What is the purpose of the interview? I ask because, if you have a sense of what the questioning might involve, then you can, to a significant degree, prepare your answers in advance. Also, if this is the case, practice your answers out loud, over and over again. This will cement them in your mind and they will come a lot easier than if you go in cold. Even if there is unexpected questioning, the confidence you have built up by having well prepared answers to the anticipated questions will help carry you through the rough spots. If it is an interactive type of setting, like a job interview, have some questions of your own prepared. Also, when rehearsing, look in a mirror and pay attention to body language, and practice that too! You want to appear confident. Good luck!

[quote]Pambele wrote:
I have the same problem.
1.) Stay away from caffeine before the invterview.
2.) Breathe from your stomach.
3.) If possible, get your doc to prescribe a beta-blocker like propranolol.
4.) Remember that what you may think is highly visible to others, chances are that they WILL NOT notice - I thought I was very shaky and insecure when speaking in public until I saw a tape of myself. I looked calm and in control - so don’t let your mind play games on you. You might look better than you think.

Hope this helps.

I have just recently been thru the same thing, an interview with a 3 member panel. I agree with the above and would add…
Relax, make sure you know your stuff, review answers to any questions you think they might ask beforehand.
Eat, being cranky due to an empty stomache won’t help. Butterflies are expected, hopefully something in the tummy will sooth them.
Best of luck.

I second 1, and 2 of Pambele’s post. Getting a prescription for a beta blocker may be a little excessive, if you only have anxiety during interviews.

Preparing yourself as much as possible can reduce anxiety levels since you’ll feel more competent going in to the interview. Rehearsing questions ahead of time with your self your someone else is also a good idea. You can never prepare too much.

I agree with all the advice given so far. In addition I’d say to not be afraid to pause for a moment when you get asked a tough question. That pause will cut down tremendously on stammering and any “and uh…” moments, plus will convey the point that you want this job and want to answer their questions to the best of your ability.

Parole hearing coming up huh? Sorry I don’t have any actual advice.

That’s actually pretty funny Pretzel, because I work at a prison.

Actually, I have an interview for a local fire department. I have an idea of the type of questions they’ll be asking…mostly moral and life experience related stuff.

Thanks to everybody that’s replied so far. Good advice.

I’d add:

  1. Get a list of five things that make you a good employee (ie, big buzzwords - accountability, integrity, etc.) - they always want to know ‘why you?’ so be able to tell them.

  2. Less is more - don’t ramble. Be thoughtful and thorough, but don’t feel the need to fill every silent gap with noise.

  3. Drink a little green tea beforehand - it’s not a caffeine crush, but it helps you stay alert.

  4. Arrive really early for the interview - you need those dead minutes before the interview to catch your breath, review anything you might need to remember, get comfortable with surroundings, etc. The longer you’re ‘at’ a place, the less formal and intimidating it becomes, so give yourself plenty of time to relax and observe. It seems trivial, but even fifteen minutes of just being there can settle nerves and take the edge off.

  5. Always, always, always, prepare to answer a question about a mistake you’ve made professionally and how you fixed/handled it.

Best of luck.

Do you have any older brothers or sisters? Job interviews are one thing, but when it comes to talking to people who firefight and rescue, what you need to understand is that you are potentially talking to your future big brothers and sisters. Focus on that and be comfortable with it. You have no reason to be nervous about being yourself.

Be nothing but brutally honest about whom you truly are. Don’t be afraid to say you are weak or human in areas where you are weak or human. All real firefighters are. Your fire, rescue, medical and technical training will come, but what you want to do for now is show your future comrades that you are an honest, dependable, team-player who is stable and level-headed enough not to pretend to be anything that you know you are not. Among firefighters, being strong willed and minded enough to say “I can do this, but I cannot do that” is a critical, critical, key trait that many wannabe posers do not fathom.

So, relax, be yourself and approach it as if you are going to talk to older brothers or sisters. You’re not going to out-smart them or out-think them; and you do not need to! Bravado will not impress them. Neither will saying you want to be a hero or that you live only to be a firefighter. You want to be prepared to tell them how and why you know you can be a good addition to their family, team and organization.

Prepare yourself to answer how you have handled critical incidents in your life’s experiences and how you have and plan to handle new kinds of stress, particularly, long-term stress. They will want to sense your ability to deal with this. It is far too expensive and punishing for a fire department to invest the time and resources in a new member who loses his edge after the first time he has to run down the road to scoop up what’s left of a child who was not properly strapped in a vehicle and thrown several hundred feet through a vehicle’s windshield, or the feeling you get when the better part of what had been the flesh and skin on a burn victim’s hand or lower arm sloughs off in your glove as you try to help them move to safety, or the reality of all the smells and fluids associated with successfully and unsuccessfully doing CPR on a full blown code blue call… Hopefully, you know you cannot “tough” your way through these sorts of situations; be ready to openly discuss the different ways you would handle the post-trauma stress from events like these. Like an older sibling who threatens to kick your butt, they will know the difference between nervous pup energy, piss and vinegar, and any hint of panic-freeze or run-hide type anxiety you show them. You want to show them that you are fearless of being fearful and human, not that you are a fool.

Prepare yourself to tell them what you are going to do, if they do not offer you a position this time around. Have a couple nearby volunteer departments scoped out that you can talk about joining and helping and learning from or local college fire service or medical credits that you plan to pursue while you maintain your current job and await the next opportunity to prove yourself in their eyes. Give them the chance to see that you pay attention to detail and that you do the mundane too – there is no shortage of not-sexy fun to being a firefighter. In other words, be prepared to show them how you think your plans through and have alternative options in mind. Having, verbatim, a kick-ass chili recipe and a couple fall-out-of-your-chair laughing jokes ready to quote them, won’t hurt either! :wink:

Be yourself and you will do them and yourself best. Good luck!

Do a couple of "practice sessions: with some friends or family members, stage a mock interview and have them ask you relevant questions. do this a a couple of times and have them give you feedback, like all things, practice, practice and more practice.

btw, do you know the people who will be interviewing you,any chance you get can out some information about them, where they went to school, hometown, etc, always pays to be prepared


Wow, Mongo, that was a pretty thorough list of tips. You wouldn’t happen to be a firefighter would you?:slight_smile: Actually that gave me alot to think about. I’ve talked to several guys on the department already and all of them LOVE their job, but a couple have said that the hardest part to deal with is injured or dead kids. I don’t think I’ll be any different.

I come from a very negative environment at my current job(prison guard). So I’m very motivated to be part of a “family” or team that watches one another’s back. I also want to feel like I’ve made a difference at the end of the day.

My father-in-law has been a firefighter for 27 years on the same department I’m testing for, so I’m hoping to be able to carry on the tradition in the family. His father was also a firefighter. His experience and insight have proved invaluable already, and I’m sure I’ll be able to draw upon it if I get hired.

This is kind of off the subject, but it’s something I’ve been wondering about how to approach if I do get hired. Obviously you workout and watch your diet since you’re here on this website. I know that cooking and sharing meals at the firehouse is a big deal. I also know that they won’t always be the healthiest.

My question is how to deal with this. As a rookie, I’m going to want to fit in as smoothly as possible, and I don’t think that includes telling one of the veterans their food isn’t “good enough” for me. I suppose if it comes down to it, I’ll eat it. I realize that these meals are as much of a bonding issue at the firehouse as any other house. But if there’s a safe way to skirt this, I’d like to know.

I already feel like I’m going to have to go above and beyond what the normal rookie will have to go through…you know, the normal hazing stuff I’ve heard about. Why? Oh, did I forget to mention my father-in-law is the chief?:slight_smile:

My best interviews have been when I just didn’t care whether I got the job or not. My worst was when I really needed or wanted the position. I developed a mental technique of telling myself that I plain did not care, which is relaxing and lets me be more of myself. It works for me. Good Luck.