Keep Your Emotions “In Check” During the Interview

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Interviewing

It is easy to become (or feel) emotionally raw while being interviewed. The stress of finding a new job (or even worse if you are in unemployment) paired with a sleepless previous night, and the anguish over having to talk about yourself can be overwhelming. It is critical, however, that you (as a Job Seeker) maintain your composure while being interviewed.

Not keeping your emotions “in check” will naturally damage your candidacy for the position. The Hiring Manager will probably revisit your readiness and stability for the position, along with the probability of making her/him feel uncomfortable, which can’t be a good thing for you at decision time. There are at least 3 main emotions that are sometimes lost during an interview. Let’s examine each one from a point of view of trying to understand why it might occur. By knowing the root cause of why you felt this way, you will be in a better position to prevent or stop it next time.

• Becoming Upset: This is probably the most common emotion shown and it usually comes from feeling defensive based on the questions being asked of you. Unfortunately, some Hiring Managers confuse a job interview with a police interrogation (although I think this happens less than it used to). It can be easy to become upset because you want to sell yourself, but you find yourself constantly in defense mode. You may also be faced with an Interviewer who does not seem to want to be bothered interviewing you. I find that this will happen when a Hiring Manager asks others to get involved in the hiring process without confirming whether they really want to participate. It can also be irritating when the Interviewer does not seem to be listening to you and your answers. Whatever the scenario, you can’t show your frustration or flash your temper.

• Starting to Cry: This happens more often than you may think. A question about a job departure or a gap in employment can be just the impetus to start a wave of emotion and then the resulting tears. If this occurs, all is not lost, as most Hiring Managers will understand when you explain that the situation is still very raw to you.

• Being Too “Energetic”: A Job Seeker knows that they need to “sell” themselves during the interview. We are told that we must convince the Hiring Manager we are the best person for the position while also displaying to him/her how much we want the job. Unfortunately, it is possible to be too excited or amped up for the interview. This can cause you to talk too much, at too high of a volume, or otherwise just appear to be a bit erratic.

There are several things that you can do in order to better control your emotions in an interview.

• Be Prepared: Being prepared is a key to most things related to an interview. If you anticipate the tough questions (such as being asked about your background) and prepare your answers ahead of time, then you will be less likely to feel emotional when asked. Ask a friend or family member to assist you by role playing the interview and the toughest questions you are likely to be asked. Rehearse your answers to the point where answering becomes second nature to you. A key is to be fully self-aware of any holes in your work history or shortcomings in your experience, so that you can properly address. Know what your goal/mission is entering the interview, and don’t allow yourself to waver.

• Get Some Rest: None of us are our usual self when we are tired. As difficult as it may be due to pre-interview nerves, getting a good night’s sleep will go a long way to stabilizing your emotions. Plus, you will also be more alert during the interview.

• Don’t Assume It Is Intentional: Becoming emotional can be a direct result of assuming someone is trying to personally attack you. If you assume that the Interviewer is only asking legitimate questions with no “hidden agenda”, it is unlikely you will become upset with the questioning. Even if you do think it may be intentional, if you conclude that it is “just business” and not personal, then you should be less emotional.

• Determine If Now Is the Best Time: If you are in a situation where you are having trouble controlling your emotions, such as in a period of grief, then consider delaying your job search. I normally strongly advocate avoiding gaps in employment and jumping right into your search, but if you are not emotionally ready, you will probably do more harm than good.

Now you may have the point-of-view that any prospective employer that would get you this emotional is not a company you would want to work for. While this may be true if the situation was intentional, I have taken the position that a Job Seeker should control her/his emotions during the interview and then make the ultimate decision regarding whether to join a company if an interview is extended.

So, do what you can to keep an even keel during your interview, and avoid any extreme emotional display that will hamper your candidacy.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein

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