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I'm horrible in job interviews. What do I do?

I'm interviewing for jobs these days. I've really come face-to-face with the fact that I am horrible at job interviews. Simply horrible.

I get so nervous that I come across as not confident and therefor not good at what I do. In reality, I'm skilled at what I do, but for some reason I always choke in an interview.  In the normal day-to-day of work, I am fine with conversing with others. 

It doesn't matter if I'm more or less interested in the job or what kind of person is interviewing me or what approach they take in the interview... just sitting there answering questions puts me in a state that makes it almost impossible to get called back for a second interview.

It feels like a panic over being judged, which of course I am in fact being judged.

Does anybody have any suggestions? 


Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Not necessarily in this order....

1. Here is a recommendation you don't hear often.....Ask your doctor for medication! LOW doses of anxiety medicine will do wonders for you. It begs to point NOT overdo it and again, DOCTOR PRESCRIBED. Just enough to get your nerves in check. I would NOT suggest alcohol (and should not include weed) as it might smell. Also, don't make it your first time doing the medication for your interview....get a feel first of how you react (to the medicine) or how your nerves are before you attempt (medicated) with an interview.
2. Practice with people you know.
3. Begin with a conversation. YOU get the ball rolling. YOU set the tone! If YOU have to begin with.."how's your day goin?" so! Don't sit there and wait for the interviewer's questions.
4. When you get the hang of it and feel comfortable with interviews, the need for #1 diminishes.

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Webinars
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Webinars) |

1. Be yourself, do not try and change who you are in trying to follow all the interview tips everyone gives to you.
2. Have fun!
3. If you do not know an answer to a question, turn it and ask the interviewer how he or she would answer the question.
4. Realize that the interviewer is probably just as nervous as you.
5. Think of an interview this way, it is not complicated: they like you and you like them you get the job, if not, oh well life goes on.

Randy Moore
Title: CFO
Company: SJB Bagel Makers
(CFO, SJB Bagel Makers) |

I've been there! I got used to it and the questions they asked. Sometimes I took charge, other times I went with the flow. I always tried to inject some light humor - that's who I am, if they weren't appreciative, then I probably don't want to work there - but that's just me.
Bring paper and pen and don't be afraid to take notes. Bring a listen of questions YOU want to ask.
Preparation and practice will lead to success.

Luigi Buffone
Title: Vice President Finance/CFO
Company: Avatar Corporation
(Vice President Finance/CFO, Avatar Corporation) |

Without being party to your interviews, it is difficult to judge what you mean by you are horrible at interviews, as there is a wide spectrum as to what qualifies as a bad interview.

Addressing your nervousness, here are some suggestions that have helped me.
1. Thoroughly research the company your interviewing. Whether the company is public or privately held, does have an impact, on how much information you can obtain.
2. List all the interview questions that have increased your anxiety, during an interview, and prepare yourself to answer those questions.
3. In addition to your list of difficult positions, research the web for difficult interview questions, and prepare answers for those questions.
4. Prepare responses for questions you anticipate, that are not difficult.
5. Practice your answers until you feel comfortable with what you are trying to convey to the interview.
6. Find an acquaintance to interview you. One time I did not have an acquaintance available, so I had my wife interview me. Practicing your responses when someone else asks the questions, is significantly different than when you read the questions to yourself.
7. Do as many interviews as you can, even if you do not think you want the job. The more interviews you do, the more natural you will be come. Additionally, there are numerous situations where people have accepted positions they thought they were not interested in.

Best wishes!!!

(Associate) |

As someone who was very nervous interviewing, I would say Luigi's number 7 was the most helpful thing for me. Each interview I did gave me confidence, to the point now where it feels like I'm chatting with a friend. I would practice all the time, but the stress in the interview would make me forget my rehearsals, which would lead to more anxiety, which would exacerbate my hyperhidrosis, which would make me worry about shaking hands....Medications didn't help either, although they could for others.
Just know there's hope. Someone will see your talent through the nervousness, and it gets better each time.

(Chief Financial Officer) |

Here's some unorthodox advice: during the 10-15 minutes right before you go into the interview, stop thinking about questions they might ask and re-live the best interview you ever had. Play that, and the associated feelings, over and over in your head. I guarantee you'll do better in the interviews.

Good luck.

Sharon King
Title: Principal
Company: Starfield Consulting Ltd.
(Principal, Starfield Consulting Ltd.) |

I have actually developed a formula to help people who have difficulty with interviews. The trick is largely in the preparation.

1. Start with identifying the key skills(not activities) you need when doing the job.
2. Identify the 3-5 best experiences that illustrate you have these skills (others can be helpful in helping you to choose them)
3. Practice telling these stories with each story lasting no more than 3-5 minutes
4. These stories then become the answer to ANY question they ask you -- all you need to do is change a one sentence intro.

For example. Lets say your story was about how you saved your existing company alot of money by identifiying a trend in purchasing habits.

They ask -- tell me about yourself. your intro could be Well my career has been spent in successive roles where I help leaders identify trends that have been critical to growth. -- then telll your story.

They ask you about your strengths -- different intro, same story

5. Think about an honest answer to your weakness.

You may also want to watch the Amy cuddy ted talk that discusses some approaches to use immediately before your interview to improve your confidence and poise.

The key is that this interview approach is similar to PR processes. You take control of the interview by knowing your answers ahead of time. The questions are just give you the opportunity to mention your career highlights.

I have a whole process I use to work with people who are doing interviews.

Jeff Durbin
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: F. Gavina and Sons, Inc.
(Chief Financial Officer, F. Gavina and Sons, Inc.) |

Let's be clear. You are not INTERVIEWING. You are having a dialogue with a future friend. They're explaining why the company and job are right for you and you are explaining why you are the best person for that job.

Remember that they WANT to hire you. That's why you got the interview.

Relax and have fun and don't put pressure on yourself.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

Wow - be careful not to take some of the advice offered - especially do not take any medication that is different from what you would normally take. You need to have your brain fully available to you. I like what Jeff Durbin has offered: You are having a dialogue with people who want to hire you.

Personally, I think job interviewing is one of the more horrible tasks in life. But, if has to be done - so here are a few things to consider.

1: There is a necessary quid pro quo. They have something to offer you that you may or may not want. You have something to offer them that they may or may not want. The relationship - the value - needs to feel mutual for both sides.

2: Therefore, you have as much power in the situation as they do. You get to say YES or NO depending on how you like the company, the job, the compensation, etc. Don't ever give away your own power.

3: Know what you have to offer - be clear about your skills, talents, experience and even go so far as to write them all out in talking points (bullet point for you power point folk) for yourself. You wouldn't be interviewing for this job if you didn't have what they need.

4: As much as you might think this is the last possible opportunity in the world,it isn't. If this one doesn't work out - there are others. Think about this as shopping. Just as you would go through a rack of clothes to find the one or two that suit your need, style, personality, etc., you and the prospective employer are shopping for the perfect fit as well. If there isn't a match - it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with those that were not selected.

5: Practice, practice, practice. If you can, get a coach or mentor who is experienced in helping people learn how to interview better to work with you.

6: Join an organization that helps people out of work. Here in Silicon Valley I know of two very good ones that are volunteer and don't cost money. - CSIX and ProMatch. There are also church groups that work with people in transition.

7: You are not alone. Job interviewing is something almost everyone except charming super-sales people loathe.

8: Learn some relaxation techniques. Breathing exercises, jumping jacks, even a walk around the parking lot before you go into the interview will all help you calm down some.

9: Dress your best. Make sure your personal grooming is perfect. Dress up at least one level from how you would dress if you were working in the company. You can ask when setting up the interview time what their dress code is - so if it is casual don't wear a suit or tie, but do wear professional neat, clean and attractive clothing. If it is not an organization that makes a point of casualness, wear your professional best. If you look your best you will feel better.

10: Come early. Do not rush to get to the interview. Allow yourself plenty of extra time. There will be traffic delays and all kinds of stupid things that will take some of the time away from your plan to go one mile a minute. Leave plenty of extra time so that doesn't add to your stress. Worse case scenario - you will arrive too early to walk in the door. So take a walk.


Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |


Anxiety disorder is a recognized condition by the American Psychiatric Association.

DOCTOR PRESCRIBED medication is a legitimate recommendation. Taking medication will in fact get your "brain fully available". The caveats and warnings in my recommendation along with what the doctor recommends/says would be enough to make it a good option.

To brush off prescription medication as an option IS a bad recommendation. Science/Medicine can help.


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