Interview paralysis is a common phenomenon experienced by many job seekers during the interview process. It is the feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to perform effectively due to anxiety and fear of judgment. This can lead to a lack of preparation, difficulty in communicating one’s skills and qualifications, and ultimately, a lower chance of landing the job.
Reasons for interview paralysis
There are many factors that can make individuals anxious preventing them from focusing and performing well during the interview.
Dishonesty: One primary reason for candidates suffering interview paralysis is “putting things on their CV that they’re not able to explain,” says Manish Majumdar, head – HR, EMS, Centum Electronics. Candidates have to be able to answer any question related to whatever has been put on their CV. In fact, it is their responsibility to explain the experiences their CV suggests they have gained and the achievements they claim to have.
Lack of confidence: Another cause of interview paralysis is a “lack of confidence in one’s abilities,” adds Sujiv Nair, global CHRO, Re Sustainability. Many individuals struggle with self-doubt and feel that they are not qualified for the job they are applying for. This can result in a negative self-image and make it difficult to perform effectively during the interview.
Pressure: The pressure to make a good impression can also contribute to interview paralysis. “The interviewees try to answer every question, even if they’re not aware of the concept, which may sometimes backfire,” points out Majumdar. This can cause individuals to become overly focused on their performance and make mistakes during the interview process.
One primary reason for candidates suffering interview paralysis is “putting things on their CV that they’re not able to explain. Candidates have to be able to answer any question related to whatever has been put on their CV. In fact, it is their responsibility to explain the experiences their CV suggests they have gained and the achievements they claim to have.”
Manish Majumdar, head – HR, EMS, Centum Electronics
Lack of preparation: Going for an interview without doing their homework beforehand is another cause for interview paralysis. “Inadequate research about the company and not paying attention to the job description can create a situation during an interview for the individual,” explains Nair.
Majumdar agrees and explains, “Sometimes, people fail to research thoroughly, especially, the one’s coming for a senior position.” Inadequate research for the role is not taken positively by any interviewer. Hence, an interviewee must also prepare for an interview, as much as an interviewer.
Uncertainty: Another possible reason for interview paralysis is uncertainty about the interview process. Job seekers may not know what to expect during an interview, leading to feelings of anxiety and nervousness. This can result in difficulty preparing for the interview, as individuals may not know what types of questions to expect, how many rounds they would have to go through, and how to present themselves in the best light.
How to overcome interview paralysis
The good news is that there are many ways to overcome interview paralysis and perform effectively during the interview.
“Focusing on their own strengths and abilities will help them feel more confident during the interview. A good way to channelise the power of self-esteem is to write down one’s strengths and remind oneself about them before going for an interview.”
Sujiv Nair, global CHRO, Re Sustainability
Be honest: To begin with, “One must prepare one’s CV meticulously. If there’s anything that can’t be explained or any activity that can’t be justified during the interview process, they must not include it,” advises Majumdar. The CV should only contain things that the candidates are confident of being able to answer and justify. Interviewers are experienced personnel and they are sharp at recognising the genuine capabilities and qualities of a person, and do not get carried away by any fancy statements or information on the CV.
Nair suggests that the candidates “get clarity on the role and list three points why they feel they will suit that position”.
Seek clarity: Many a time, interviewees begin answering a question even before they’ve properly understood what has been asked. In such cases, when the interviewers start cross-questioning, the interviewees are unable to give proper answers. Hence, it’s always better to clarify with the interviewers what exactly they wish to know. “Clarify the question first, understand what the interviewer wants to know, and then answer,” advises Majumdar. It’s absolutely okay to seek clarity on the questions. It only helps one frame accurate answers rather than begin with something unnecessary and lose track of one’s own thoughts.
Prepare thoroughly: Another significant aspect to overcome interview paralysis is to prepare thoroughly for the interview. Nair advises candidates to “research the company and list five points that they like or admire about that company”. Additionally, he suggests reading up about the position the candidates are applying for, and understanding the job description properly. Familiarity with the interview process is also necessary. This goes a long way in helping the candidate feel more confident and less anxious during the interview.
Confidence is key to overcoming interview paralysis, and hence, it is essential to take time to reflect on one’s skills and accomplishments. Candidates should remind themselves why they are the best choice for the job. Focusing on their own strengths and abilities will help them feel more confident during the interview. “A good way to channelise the power of self-esteem is to write down one’s strengths and remind oneself about them before going for an interview,” opines Nair.
Accept lack of knowledge: It’s perfectly fine to admit and accept that one does not know the answer to some question asked by the interviewer,” shares Majumdar. If a concept is unknown to the candidate, it is best to just admit it and take some time to frame the answers. “Interviewers reward and appreciate honesty,” he adds.
Hence, instead of just saying anything for the sake of it, it is better for the candidate to take some time and let the interviewer know this is something they’d like to find out and learn about.
Every organisation is different and so are their activities. The interviewers are fully aware and have a fair idea about the activities and the work that goes on in their companies. The interviewees, on the other hand, may be familiar with different ways of doing the same work or activities in other organisations.
“The expectation to know everything is a misconception that we’ve built in us, it’s okay to leave some space for mistakes as well,” opines Majumdar.
Be positive: The more one practices, the better one will perform during the interview. Also try to focus on the positive aspects of the interview instead of the negative, such as the fear of being judged or the pressure to perform.
In conclusion, interview paralysis is a common experience for many job seekers. It is caused by a combination of uncertainty about the interview process, lack of confidence in one’s abilities, and pressure to make a good impression. The key to overcoming interview paralysis is to prepare thoroughly, build confidence in one’s abilities, and focus on the positive aspects of the interview process. With the right approach, individuals can overcome interview paralysis and perform effectively during the interview, increasing their chances of landing the job.
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