Interviews can be nerve-racking experiences. Interview candidates across the board have all experienced some form of uneasiness over an interview. While this may be a natural indication that a candidate wants to do well at an interview, for some candidates interview anxiety can have serious and unfavourable consequences. Not an oft talked about topic, interview anxiety can be easily dealt with and channelised by interview candidates to effect a positive change in their careers.
What is interview anxiety?
Interview anxiety is an elevated sense of stress, fear, or apprehension about a job interview. Unlike a regular case of nerves, interview anxiety is pronounced and can affect a candidate physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
Common signs of interview anxiety
Interview anxiety can manifest in many different ways.
- Feeling edgy or ‘weak-kneed’
- Breaking out in a sweat
- Dry mouth or nausea
- Shaking or trembling
- Fidgeting or excessive hand gestures
- Rambling, mumbling or choking up
- Blanking out or forgetting obvious facts
- Inability to make eye contact
- Intense feeling of discomfort
- Quick, shallow breathing
- Racing heart
- Hot flashes
- Panic attacks
Job interview anxiety vs. Generalised anxiety
For many people, interview anxiety may stem from pre-existing generalised anxiety issues. However, in this article, we explore anxiety pertaining specifically to job interviews as opposed to a generalised state of anxiety or clinical anxiety which traverses a completely different path, affecting a person, socially, in many different ways.
Effects of interview anxiety
The fallout of interview anxiety can have debilitating effects on a person’s career progression. Many qualified candidates often miss out on great opportunities to move up the career ladder because of their inability to deal with interview anxiety and its effects.
Significant negative effects candidates face before, during, and after an interview are -
- Avoiding interviews - It is not uncommon for candidates who experience interview anxiety to reject or cancel calls for interviews to avoid being in a stressful position.
- Underperformance at interviews - Being anxious affects a candidate’s ability to focus. Candidates often hope to simply get through the interview process vs. performing well during an interview. Consequently, candidates receive low ratings from interviewers for being unable to showcase their knowledge adequately. In some cases, candidates ‘blank out’ rendering them completely unable to complete an interview.
- Amplified anxiety or rejecting job offers - Anxiety over unsatisfactory performance at an interview lingers on even after the interview process is complete. This raises self-doubt in candidates about their ability to attend future interviews or fulfill responsibilities in their prospective roles. This causes some candidates to discontinue their job search, rethink career changes, and in some cases even reject job offers.
5 Myths about interview anxiety
- Myth - Very few people have it!
This couldn’t be further from the truth! Job seekers don’t often discuss anxiety as a part of the interview process given the enormous pressure to appear on top of one’s game and succeed. In today’s competitive job search environment, any form of imperfection is considered undesirable. Most content and literature on interviews centre aggressively around perfection and performing to succeed. The more difficult aspects of interviewing, such as anxiety, are rarely covered.
Reality - Everyone experiences it!
At a recent webinar conducted by Interview Kickstart on ‘Dealing with Interview Anxiety’, attendees were polled to find out if they ever experienced interview anxiety, and, if so, how would they rate the intensity of their anxiety on a scale of 1 - 10 (10 being the highest levels of anxiety).
Everyone responded affirmatively to having experienced anxiety in interviews. Of the 150+ respondents to the poll, 80% rated their anxiety levels over 6, 60% rated it over 7, and 10% rated it at 10. This clearly indicates that just about everyone experiences anxiety albeit to varying degrees.
Most interviewers confess to being able to spot an anxious candidate and agree that performance anxiety is one of the most significant reasons why candidates don’t succeed at interviews.
- Myth - You can’t overcome it.
Candidates usually fail to identify behavioral patterns brought about by anxiety. This causes anxiety to become a more entrenched part of their personalities. Candidates find themselves stuck in a loop of repetitive unfavourable behaviors resulting in unfavorable outcomes. This leads candidates to believe interview anxiety is a permanent handicap.
Reality - You can deal with it!
Since all candidates experience interview anxiety to varying degrees, ‘overcoming’ it is not a feasible solution. Candidates should instead focus on ‘dealing’ with interview anxiety. This is possible through an established system or process that begins with acceptance, followed by employing the right techniques and strategies to control anxiety.
- Myth - You can’t succeed with it.
Candidates who believe interview anxiety cannot be overcome, also believe they can never succeed at interviews. This hampers their career progression significantly. Qualified and skilled candidates with high levels of anxiety tend to pass up lucrative opportunities causing career stagnation and a negative outlook towards achieving success.
Reality - You can succeed wildly even with significant levels of interview anxiety!
As many of our Interview Kickstart alumni will testify, one can deal with interview anxiety to achieve success at even the most challenging interviews. Many of our alumni at Interview Kickstart, who experienced significant levels of interview anxiety, have gone on to not only master the art of interviewing but also receive lucrative offers from FAANG and other top tech companies.
- Myth - Interviews are tests and failure is binding.
Many candidates approach an interview like they would a standardised test i.e. the results of one interview are binding on their performance in subsequent interviews. As a result, candidates tend to internalise failure or poor performance in an interview. This leads to low self-esteem and a negative outlook about themselves and their careers.
Reality - Interviews are discussions, not tests!
Interviews are not tests, even though an interview follows a question and answer format. Attending an interview is actually akin to going on a date where two people meet and get to know each other through amicable discussion.
Interviewers are keen to get to know candidates. Similarly, an interview is an opportunity for candidates to get to know their interviewers, the prospective role, and prospective employer.
In some cases, the interviewer and candidate hit it off and sometimes they don’t connect despite the best efforts of both parties. A candidate’s performance at one interview has no bearing on the next.
- Myth - The interviewer is against you
When there are multiple candidates for a single role, interviews become competitive and follow a process of elimination in a company’s attempt to choose the best candidate for a particular role. In this context, many candidates go into interviews believing interviewers deliberately frame or ask questions in an attempt to catch them out or cause them to fail. This makes candidates apprehensive and unable to communicate properly with the interviewer leading to lower ratings.
Reality - Interviewers want you to succeed!
Interviewers are keen on finding the right candidate. Candidates are shortlisted for interviews after a screening process and ascertaining their suitability for a particular role. Identifying candidates and conducting interviews is a time-consuming and expensive exercise, utilising many productive hours of multiple members of the hiring and technical staff. Given the time and resources dedicated to interviewing candidates, it is in the company’s own interest to have candidates succeeding in interviews. Interviewers are more likely to help a candidate get through the interview than fail at it.
Causes of interview anxiety
Understanding the causes of interview anxiety is key to dealing with it. Interview anxiety is brought on for a number of reasons and varies for each candidate.
Interviews generally aim to assess candidates’ suitability for a role by analysing their experience and qualifications. However, technical interviews present their own set of challenges given its focus on specialised testing vs. general assessment of specific skills and behaviors.
In this context, some common reasons for interview anxiety are listed below.
- Fear of failure
This is the leading cause of interview anxiety. Candidates fear making a mistake, doing or saying the wrong thing, not knowing the answers to certain questions, or not being able to present themselves or communicate properly.
These fears are aggravated in a technical interview which emphasises real-time testing of a candidate’s skill in knowledge areas that they don’t have expertise in.
The very nature of questions asked in interviews cause candidates to be apprehensive. Candidates are expected to display problem-solving skills, write code using a plain-text editor or on a whiteboard, and verbally elaborate their approach to questions. Candidates are also subjected to behavioural interviews to assess their soft skills.
The entire interview process is a long-drawn affair involving multiple, progressive stages. This presents many opportunities for a candidate to slip-up which act as multiple anxiety triggers. The more competitive the interview process, the harder it is to succeed at it causing a heightened sense of dread among candidates.
Technical interviews at top-tier tech companies, especially FAANG companies, are very challenging, focusing on problem-solving and competitive programming. These questions are very different from the kind of work even very experienced candidates are used to executing in their daily job roles.
Two key reasons why top tech companies have very competitive interview processes are -
- In a fast-paced, ever-changing tech landscape, companies try to solve problems that have never been addressed before. Competitive programming questions in interviews become more complex every year to find candidates with the required skill set. Companies expect candidates to have very strong core skills which they can apply to solve a variety of problems. Most candidates do not strengthen or update skills in line with new developments and requirements in the tech industry, which leaves them unprepared for interviews resulting in performance anxiety.
- Top tech companies continually screen and interview thousands of candidates annually. It is impossible for companies to dedicate resources to assess candidates on an individual basis. Consequently, the most effective way to screen candidates at scale is to assess common skills viz. problem-solving and logical thinking.
- Need for speed
In technical interviews, candidates are not just expected to display problem solving abilities but to do so in a time-bound manner. Solving questions in real-time under tight time constraints is an effective way to ascertain expertise levels of candidates.
Difficulty levels increase with every progressive round of interviews. In preliminary rounds, candidates are expected to solve easy questions in about 10 minutes. In subsequent rounds, candidates are expected to solve up to 3 or 4 medium or tough questions in about 30 - 45 mins.
To add to this, candidates are also expected to communicate their approach and thought process to interviewers as they solve problems.
The pressure to solve tough questions quickly can throw even the most seasoned candidates off their game.
- High stakes
Candidates attend interviews with the intention of upleveling their career. This could either be to achieve an increase in their overall compensation or advance to a higher position in terms of designation or responsibilities.
However, making a career move involves exploring new avenues, essentially taking job seekers out of their comfort zones. With the job market becoming increasingly competitive and an ever-changing tech landscape, job seekers eventually realise their current skills are inadequate for new roles.
The higher the stakes, the more the pressure to achieve success. Interview processes at top tech companies are very challenging given that working with these companies are very lucrative opportunities for those in the tech field.
Without the required skills, candidates become fearful of putting themselves in a position of being judged. The desire to capitalize on new, lucrative opportunities amplifies a candidate’s fear of failure. This puts a lot of pressure on a candidate to perform well at an interview and in turn triggers anxiety.
- Artificial construct of a technical interview
This is another major cause of interview anxiety though not always immediately identified by candidates.
Anxiety can be triggered in candidates, consciously or subconsciously, by virtue of being in an unfamiliar environment. The artificial nature of an interview setup exponentially multiplies the effects of other causes of interview anxiety.
Candidates are used to functioning in a natural work environment where processes flow freely and there are multiple opportunities to interact with known peers. A natural work environment also provides the space to make mistakes and rectify the same.
However, in an interview, opportunities for interaction are pre-defined and limited. In interviews, candidates and interviewers have no context about each other. Candidates become very conscious of themselves and their actions in an interview since there is no scope to make mistakes or return to fix issues.
Top tech companies design interviews to build a certain amount of discomfort in candidates to assess how they perform in a new situation and under pressure. They also design their technical interview processes to be lengthy and rigorous to filter out the best candidates. The fear of getting fatigued as the process wears on, trying to achieve success persistently with every round of interviews causes anxiety in a lot of candidates.
How to deal with interview anxiety
Dealing with interview anxiety is the only way to get around it and move forward. Technical interviews can be particularly challenging but candidates can learn to manage their anxiety. Interview Kickstart recommends dealing with interview anxiety over technical interviews by using the C.O.D.E. framework.
The C.O.D.E. framework is a strategy that outlines the key ways in which candidates can manage and deal with their anxiety in a structured manner. C.O.D.E. involves -
- Deliberate practice
- Evolutionary approach
- C - Control - Learn to control the interview
The root of anxiety is helplessness or a lack of control of a situation or self.
The most important step to dealing with interview anxiety is to control the interview. This is possible by utilising various techniques to manage and channelise anxiety.
Anxiety is what triggers a fight or flight response in a candidate when faced with a challenging or uncomfortable situation. By learning to control their flight responses, candidates can channelise their anxiety productively.
This can be achieved by learning to practice control using various mindfulness, breathing, and centring techniques.
- Controlled breathing
Anxiety causes most people to breathe very quickly. One way for candidates to control this is to slow down their breathing by taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly. Slow breathing signals a lack of danger to the body, negating fear signals triggered by anxiety, automatically causing a person to calm down and refocus.
- Ask for time
One way to take control of an interview is to create a space of comfort at the onset. Candidates can be achieved by taking a moment to gather their thoughts and get comfortable with the situation. Most candidates don’t realise it’s acceptable to ask the interviewer for time to think about questions asked.
- Repeat questions
Candidates can repeat or paraphrase questions to check if they have understood them correctly. This will allow or prompt interviewers to provide useful hints to help the candidate solve the question.
Interviewers want candidates to succeed and are very receptive to candidates who display an interest in solving problems right at the onset. Repeating questions gives candidates a chance to think and organise their thoughts.
In coding interviews, asking clarifying questions is, in fact, expected of a candidate as part of the problem-solving process.
Driving communication with the interviewer will help steer the interview in a favorable direction and make candidates feel less anxious about making mistakes.
Interviewers don’t always ask questions that allow candidates to talk about their skills directly. However, candidates can do so by steering or redirecting the conversation appropriately.
Candidates should try to work relevant information into their answers to highlight projects, experience, or skill sets that may not be apparent on their resume or that interviewers may have missed out on. This will keep interviewers focused on areas candidates are confident talking about.
- O - Over-prepare
Preparation is at the heart of dealing with interview anxiety.
Trying to wing it at an interview is a sure-shot way to fail at it. A lack of preparation or being under-prepared will be evident to interviewers almost immediately and cause candidates to feel awkward.
Over-preparing is a key strategy to being ready for an interview. Technical interviews are very asymmetric i.e. although interviews feature only a few questions, these can be based on a wide range of topics.
Technical interviews are designed to test a candidate’s understanding of basic principles of computer science. There is no way for a candidate to know exactly which questions will be asked at an interview.
- Patterns vs. questions
Most candidates try to hack an interview by compiling and studying a list of commonly asked questions at an interview.
these questions are often revised and replaced with questions depending on the prospective role. It is impossible to identify and study the thousands of questions asked at technical interviews.
Candidates should instead focus on patterns to resolve a wide range of problems.
At Interview Kickstart, this is a proven strategy taught to students to enable them to succeed at even the most challenging interviews at top tech companies.
Although it appears companies compile a standardised list of interview questions, companies are actually constantly updating the questions they ask at interviews depending on the role they are interviewing for.
By mastering patterns, which largely focus on logic and problem-solving, candidates can apply their knowledge to a wide range of topics. This puts them more in control of the entire interview process by eliminating uncertainty to a large extent.
- Take time to prepare sufficiently
In order for preparation to be effective, it has to be thorough.
Often candidates accept interview dates at the earliest opportunity provided.
This is especially true when candidates receive interest from FAANG companies. Candidates worry they may not get another chance to interview at top companies if they don’t accept given dates. This leaves them with little time to prepare.
However, interviewers expect candidates to come prepared for a technical interview. Technical interviews at top tech and FAANG companies are designed to be very lengthy and rigorous processes and cannot be attempted without adequate preparation.
Candidates should remember that technical interviews comprise a series of coding and behavioral interviews and accepting an interview date relates to not just one interview but the entire process.
When a recruiter reaches out to a candidate, candidates should glean as much information as possible to understand the prospective role and interview process before accepting an interview date.
- How long will the interview process take and how many various rounds will it feature?
- Where and how will the interview be conducted?
- Who will conduct the interview?
- What skills or knowledge are required for the prospective role?
- What topics will the interview be based on?
- What kind of questions will the interview feature e.g. problem-solving or domain-related questions?
- What resources can the company provide or can they provide references to resources to prepare for the interview?
This will tell candidates how much time they need to prepare based on which an appropriate interview date of choice should be communicated to recruiters.
By creating their own space, candidates can eliminate anxiety caused by anticipating failure owing to lack of preparation.
If a candidate is not provided enough time to prepare by the prospecting company, candidates should adjust expectations, knowing a negative outcome is likely but out of their hands.
- Uplevel skills and establish a system of preparation
There are many established pathways to uplevel skills and prepare for interviews.
In order to gain a competitive advantage, job seekers subscribe to programs designed to help candidates prepare for tough technical interviews.
Interview Kickstart, pioneers in the field of technical interview preparation, have, over the last six years, developed a teaching curriculum and methodology that has helped thousands of engineers uplevel their skills and establish a proven system to successfully prepare and ace technical interviews at top tech and FAANG companies.
Programs at Interview Kickstart help candidates focus on problem-solving and logic using patterns to help candidates tackle problems on a range of topics. Our teaching methodology includes live classes and simulated interviews conducted by hiring and technical staff from top tech and FAANG companies, providing candidates first-hand exposure to interview experiences and how to prepare for them.
For candidates who can’t avail of such programs, self-study or self-preparation should be executed in a structured manner to achieve positive results.
There are a number of free resources online that candidates can access to develop a preparation methodology.
When crafting a self-study program, candidates should focus on -
- Identifying the types of questions asked at technical interviews and focusing on the patterns to solve them
- Identifying and strengthening skills in knowledge areas to be covered in the interview. Typically, technical interviews cover topics related to Data Structures, Algorithms, and System Designs.
- Understanding the interview process of the prospecting company and tailoring preparation and practice for the interview accordingly
Candidates can also try to avail as much information about the interview process from recruiters as possible to create a structured approach to preparing for the interview.
By over-preparing, candidates gain more confidence in their abilities and minimise chances of performing inadequately thereby reducing anxiety greatly.
- D - Deliberate practice
The best way to reduce anxiety before going into an interview is to simulate interview environments.
Unfamiliar or artificial interview environments appear less daunting once candidates have familiarized themselves with it.
Being at ease will help candidates focus on the task at hand during an interview i.e solving tough questions in a short period of time.
Three key ways to practice for an interview are -
- Determine knowledge areas
Technical interviews can cover a wide range of topics. It is imperative that candidates understand the prospective role and the skills and knowledge required for it.
Key topics covered at technical interviews are Data structures, algorithms and system design. Questions asked will depend on the role and a candidate’s level of experience.
This will help candidates focus their preparation on key subjects and knowledge areas vs. trying to cover an exhaustive number of questions and topics in an unfocused manner.
- Set timelines
Solving coding problems with tight timelines is not possible without prior practice.
At technical interviews, candidates are expected to write out code using a plain text editor or whiteboard and verbally explain their approach and solution to interviewers, all of which can be difficult to do simultaneously, even if presented with a familiar topic.
Technical interviews can feature as many as 4 or 5 questions to be solved in as little as 45 mins to an hour.
Attempting to solve many questions in a short time frame at the onset of preparation will not help candidates improve speed.
Instead, candidates should first focus on solving problems without any time constraints. Once they are adept at this, candidates should gradually increase the number of problems to be solved and tighten time constraints till they are comfortable solving multiple problems within a short period of time.
Candidates should gradually increase difficulty levels of questions until they are able to solve tough problems efficiently, within the required time frame.
- Mock interviews
This is a key strategy used to help students prepare for technical and behavioral interviews at Interview Kickstart.
Candidates should try, as much as is possible, to simulate interview environments.
This includes the physical set up of an interview as well, pertaining to on-site, online or phone screen modes of interviewing.
Candidates should practice interviewing with peers and writing code on a whiteboard or paper or using a plain text editor, or shared screen in case of an online or phone interview, to get a realistic picture of what it will be like during the interview.
Although candidates may not experience anxiety during a mock interview, candidates should consider and address all aspects that are likely to trigger discomfort.
Besides getting comfortable with answering questions, candidates should utilise mock interviews to practice other aspects as well.
In addition to identifying knowledge gaps and practicing problem-solving, candidates should practice soft skills and control techniques, especially how to regulate their breathing and body language.
Candidates should also practice communicating with interviewers as they develop solutions to problems including how to ask clarifying questions.
Practicing with hiring managers, or tech leads will help candidates get a better understanding of the interview process and their performance to help prepare better. If candidates don’t have access to hiring managers, they should try to work with peers from a tech background.
An ideal way for candidates to utilise mock interviews is to get feedback on their performance. This can either be provided by the mock interviewer or by recording the interview using a phone, computer, or video or audio recorder. Written feedback will help candidates internalise suggestions better.
Every candidate has an inherent interviewing style with observable behaviours and traits. Identifying these will help candidates eliminate anti-patterns and mistakes which in turn will improve performance and build confidence.
Candidates should employ mock interviews multiple times during their interview preparation process, working on feedback each time until all areas of weakness or uncertainty have been addressed.
- E - Evolutionary approach - Build a growth / audition mindset
Interviews at top tech and FAANG companies are very challenging and difficult to get through, requiring a lot of preparation. In some cases, candidates are known to prepare for up to 6 -7 months before interviewing at these companies. To put this in perspective, getting an offer from Google is considered more difficult than getting into Stanford, a leading, global, academic institution.
Before applying and interviewing at top tech companies, candidates should interview with Tier-2 or Tier-3 companies to gain firsthand experience and insights into how technical interviews are conducted.
These ‘starter interviews’ will enable candidates to hone interviewing skills in a live environment in addition to mock interviews and self-study. With a growth mindset, candidates will be able to work on every experience so as to develop the stamina, expertise, and confidence required to interview at top tech companies.
To deal with continued anxiety over the interviewing process, candidates should adopt an evolutionary approach to interviewing. This approach focuses on a growth mindset vs. an outcome mindset.
Candidates who perceive interviews as non-finite experiences that have binding consequences tend to have amplified anxiety over failing an interview. Most job seekers interview with multiple companies before eventually landing and accepting an offer from a company of choice. This can cause candidates to feel like they’re stuck in a loop of negative outcomes.
However, by adopting a growth mindset, candidates perceive every interview as a finite experience, the result of which has no binding effect on subsequent interviews.
Candidates prepare for the next interview based on feedback or self-assessment of their performance at a previous interview. This enables them to build resilience and improve interviewing skills until they become proficient enough to break out of the loop and achieve positive results and success in the form of job offers.
Candidates can also take the edge off the outcome of interviews by treating them like auditions. Candidates understand interviews are opportunities to present their skills which may or may not be suitable for a particular role and not landing an offer is not necessarily reflective of a lack of talent. This outlook allows candidates to walk away from interviews without internalising negative outcomes.
Interviews are finite experiences and the results of one interview are not binding on the next. It is common for candidates to experience good and bad interviews over the course of their interview experience with multiple companies. In fact, companies with lengthy interview processes are accommodative of promising candidates who may perform inadequately during one out of many rounds of an interview process.
As the popular adage goes, ‘Impossible is Nothing!’ At Interview Kickstart, we have witnessed a number of students, whose careers were negatively impacted by interview anxiety, bounce back to achieve success.
Aditya @ Altassian
Aditya, an alum at Interview Kickstart, is a prime example of how one can deal with intense interview anxiety to land a lucrative offer and move up the ladder of success.
Aditya targeted three companies of choice in Austin, dealt with interview anxiety and eventually landed an offer from Altassian.
Aditya recalls how his tryst with performance anxiety began in high school. Aditya constantly experienced performance anxiety in the form of nervousness, sleeplessness, and fear before exams or major events. This impacted his academic and social life a great deal right through college.
His anxiety abated over the years as Aditya launched and settled into a career in the tech industry. However, when he eventually decided to move up the career ladder, he began to experience similar effects of anxiety before technical interviews, as he did in high school.
Getting through technical interviews became very challenging for Aditya who felt stuck in a loop of negative outcomes with every unsuccessful interview. This affected his ability to progress in his career quite significantly, causing unbound feelings of frustration and helplessness.
It was at this point he became conscious of the intensity of his anxiety regarding interviews and how it had become a major stumbling block to achieving success.
While Aditya yearned to uplevel his career, he quickly realised acing technical interviews at top tech companies would not be possible without dealing with interview anxiety first. His inherent competitive nature motivated him to take control of his situation and work around his anxiety.
Aditya’s first step in dealing with interview anxiety was to accept it was real and an undeniable part of his personality.
He was further inspired by the biographies of famous personalities such as Abraham Lincoln and Andy Murray. Their documented experiences with performance anxiety and how they continued to have stellar professional careers despite it bolstered his confidence to set his sights on more lucrative career opportunities and work towards it.
Aditya spent about 6 months focusing on learning the right techniques and strategies to deal with all aspects of interviewing including how to deal with interview anxiety.
As part of his preparation for upcoming technical interviews, Aditya signed up for a course at Interview Kickstart to approach interviews in a structured manner.
In order to deal with interview anxiety, he focused his interview preparation on deliberate practice, mock interviews, and working on feedback to improve his performance at interviews.
Here are some important strategies and tactics Aditya used to make his interview preparation process more effective.
- Solving tough questions in a time efficient manner
Coding problems can be tricky to solve when approached from a logic and reasoning perspective as opposed to simply stating the right answer.
When faced with a topic that was too challenging, Aditya recommends moving on to an alternate topic and returning to unsolved problems at a later time.
Not only did stepping away give him a fresh perspective on the unsolved problem, it also allowed him to use his time more efficiently to cover a wider range of topics.
- Mock interviews as a key preparation method
Mock interviews proved to be an integral part and a key success factor of Aditya’s interview preparation process. Treating mock interviews as real interviews helped him practice effectively for all aspects of an interview.
This included practicing breathing exercises learnt at Interview Kickstart, reviewing or self-auditing mock interviews to identify areas of improvement, and even dressing up as he would for a real interview.
- Incorporating feedback to improve skills and performance
Aditya made particular use of feedback from mock interviews and review sessions to identify knowledge gaps and unfavorable behavioral patterns. He then worked on these areas to improve his overall performance.
A particularly useful form of feedback he relied on was the granular feedback template used during his course with Interview Kickstart. This provided him detailed insights by scoring every aspect of his interview performance, technical and behavioral.
- Adjusting sleep cycles
Aditya recommends taking a couple of days off from regular work schedules before attending an interview in order to adjust sleep cycles.
In preparation for his interview, he ensured a good night’s sleep by avoiding excessive screen time, switching off devices, and listening to soothing music before bed.
- Practicing breathing techniques
While most people read or learn about breathing, mindfulness or meditation exercises to help control the physical effects of anxiety at interviews, Aditya actually put it into practice to reap real benefits of these techniques.
He focused on breathing techniques e.g. taking 10 deep breaths and exhaling before starting an interview. He practiced these techniques before every mock interview which helped him exercise greater control over his anxiety during real interviews.
- Balancing work and preparation schedules
Professionals in full-time employment find the time required to prepare for an interview at a top tech company daunting to consider. In order to allocate the required time to preparing for challenging interviews and to stay focused on seeing the preparation process through.
Ashima, Engineering Manager @ FAANG company
In 2018, Ashima, a mother of two young children, aged 6 and 4 years at the time, longed to make it big in the tech industry by joining a FAANG company and uplevelling her career significantly.
However, with the pressing demands of work and family life, Ashima faced a tremendous challenge in achieving her career goals. Considering top tech and FAANG companies design the hardest interview processes in the world, her feelings of anxiety applying for positions at these companies were not unfounded.
Given her tight time constraints, Ashima knew what she needed to prepare for a technical interview at a top tech or FAANG company, was structured, dedicated study time and the ability to over-prepare.
Without the required support, crafting an effective interview preparation schedule was also proving to be a challenge. As a competitive person, she also identified the need to have preparation partners to work with and compete against to hone her skills.
Ashima realised that to over-prepare for an interview she needed an established pathway to upskill and practice.
Unable to create a feasible self-study program with available free resources, Ashima decided to seek help to deal with her anxiety over upcoming interviews.
This is when she discovered Interview Kickstart and opted for both live classes, for coaching with hiring managers and technical leads from FAANG companies, and Sunday tests.
Interview Kickstart’s structured interview preparation methodology proved to be extremely beneficial for Ashima, enabling her to prepare in a manner suited to her requirements. The time she spent in class was the dedicated time she needed to prepare for interviews and the weekend tests provided her a way to compete against peers.
Ashima testifies that the right kind of preparation is key to overcoming challenges and worries regarding interviews.
She eventually went on to ace the technical interview at a FAANG company. From aiming for a team role, her upleveled skills bagged her a plum role as an individual contributor.
Ashima currently works as an Engineering Manager, a position which now sees her interviewing candidates for her company.
Having crossed over from being an interview candidate to a hiring interviewer, here are some key points Ashima believes can help candidates allay their anxiety about interviewing at top tech companies.
- Interviewers, generally, want candidates to succeed at interviews and are willing to help candidates during the interview process. Candidates should utilise this to their advantage during the interview.
- Candidates should always slow down and take their time if they need to during an interview.
- Interview processes are designed to be challenging which is why preparation is very important. Interviewers value candidates who understand the interview process and prepare for it.
Getting over interview anxiety can be a challenging process. However, it is imperative to remember that dealing with interview anxiety is entirely possible and does not have to impede your chances at success. Understanding interview anxiety, its causes and effects, and employing the right techniques will enable you to not just deal with but channelise anxiety to effect positive outcomes. Dealing with interview anxiety is an immensely liberating experience and a definitive way to ensure you keep moving forward in your career.
Read more about how to prepare and ace a technical interview at top tech and FAANG companies with Interview Kickstart.
For further resources on how to prepare for technical interviews at various companies, refer our definitive guides: