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Overcoming Interview Anxiety ft. Stranger Things

Posted on 
July 27, 2020
Vartika Rai
The fast well prepared banner
About The Author!
Vartika Rai
Vartika Rai
Product Manager at Interview Kickstart | Ex-Microsoft | IIT Hyderabad | ML/Data Science Enthusiast. Works with industry experts to help working professionals successfully prepare and ace interviews at FAANG+ and top tech companies

Welcome to the second blog of our series, ‘Netflix and Uplevel,’ in which we learn some great career lessons from popular Netflix shows.

This time, we’ve chosen the most talked-about Netflix show—‘Stranger Things’. An American horror and sci-fi TV series, the show revolves around the lives of people in a small town called Hawkins, Indiana, and gives us major ‘80s nostalgia. 

Here's what this article will cover:

  1. Be brave and overcome your fears...
  2. The 93% of candidates feel anxious during job interviews
  3. Reasons why people fear interviews
  4. How can you overcome interview anxiety?

Be brave and overcome your fears... 

The loveable, geeky group of friends in Stranger Things overcomes great fears and obstacles by embracing their journey into the unknown. Through the dark, mysterious dangers of the ‘Upside Down’, they always come out victorious and stronger. 

The same logic applies to technical interviews. Consider you’ve got a big job interview coming up. This could be it! Your one shot at the perfect job! Sometimes, we get anxious about the very idea of a job interview and worry our nerves will get in the way of impressing the interviewer.  

93% of candidates feel anxious during job interviews

Source: Small Business Trends 

According to studies, people who report more anxiety during the interview receive lower interview scores (as judged by interviewers). This is precisely why you need to learn how to control your anxiety levels during technical interviews, where the stakes are high and the process is rigorous.

Reasons why people fear interviews

  1. Lack of preparation 

Technical interviews are unlike any other job interview. They are specialized, rigorous processes that test your coding skills, problem-solving abilities, and personality. These interviews can get even more intimidating when you do not know what questions to expect and aren’t well prepared. 

  1. Fear of failure 

A recent poll by Interview Kickstart reveals 69% of the respondents stated fear of failure as a major cause of interview anxiety. Interviews expose us to either acceptance or rejection. You either get the job or you don’t. There is no middle ground. So it’s natural to be fearful of rejection.

  1. Solving time-bound questions 

Tech companies have a reputation for conducting incredibly difficult interviews. Google is rumored to be a company that asks potential employees complicated brain teasers and other tough, complex interview questions. Additionally, one is required to solve these questions within a short time frame. The pressure to be an excellent problem solver and think quickly on your feet is nerve-wracking. 

Learn how to ace your next tech interview.

How can you overcome interview anxiety?

Interview anxiety can seem like a huge obstacle to get over. Here are some useful, proven lessons that we can learn from Stranger Things to get over one’s fear of interviews. 

  1. Accept that interview anxiety is common

On the unfortunate night of November 6th, 1983, Will Buyers was abducted by the Demogorgon and taken into an alternate dimension. Although he was eventually rescued and then returned to normal life, Will struggled to accept that he still had a mysterious connection with the Upside Down. Finally, he reveals his apparent flashbacks of the Upside Down to Mike. 

Interviews are no different. The first thing you need to do is accept that you have interview anxiety. With so much riding on your performance, it's not surprising you’re bound to experience anxiety about everything in the process—from not answering questions "perfectly," to looking unpolished, or perhaps, your worst fear, getting rejected. Even exceptional engineers and senior employees in the tech space feel the same. With interview anxiety, it’s counterproductive to pretend to be okay. 

  1. Prepare yourself

We all know that Steve Harrington liked to be prepared for the unknown at all times. He rode with a spiked bat in his car, which he was incredibly proficient with. When the vicious Demogorgon was attacking the Byers house, Steve used his spiked bat at the junkyard where he would have been overwhelmed in an ambush by the demodogs, if not for defending himself with it.

You overcome interview anxiety by first realizing you have it (acceptance) and then doing the hard work of preparing. When you prepare for an interview, you essentially develop a sense of confidence. However, we recommend that one should have realistic expectations when preparing for job interviews. The process may take longer than expected, but with time, you get much better results. 

Research the organization, practice mock interviews and tests, and rehearse telling compelling stories about your skills. The more informed and prepared you are, the better you are likely to perform in the interview.

  1. Visualize success


Dustin Henderson emerges as an important character by Season 3, befriending Steve, infiltrating a secret Russian facility and, most importantly, getting a girlfriend. While everyone is skeptical of Suzie's existence for most of the season, the finale finally introduces us to her. While she and Dustin steal the show with their musical number, there's a detail that we should notice: while nobody believed Dustin could get the number to Planck's constant from Suzie (his imaginary girlfriend or so they thought), Dustin was quite positive Suzie could help them. 

Before an interview, train your mind to be positive and visualize a successful interview process. When done correctly, it will prepare your brain to behave in a certain way. This technique has been used by several athletes before competitions to improve their performance.

  1. Don't succumb to pressure



Mike's romantic relationship with Eleven, aka El, continued to blossom in Season 3, much to Jim Hopper’s dismay, who took steps to complicate it. Although Jim Hopper gives Mike a really hard time (because El is now officially his daughter), Mike doesn’t give up. He seeks Lucas’ help to amend his relationship with El and tries to weigh the pros and cons of the situation. 

Sometimes, you may face an interviewer who grills you to see how you handle stress. It may be tempting to enter into a zone of negative thinking in such cases. However, it is important for you to understand what the interviewer is trying to accomplish, i.e., your ability to handle stressful situations. Know that other candidates who have attended the interview have been treated the same way and it is in no way a reflection of you or your capabilities.

Interview anxiety can be managed and overcome by following these steps mentioned above. If you believe you have interview anxiety, don’t let that prevent you from putting yourself out there, preparing hard, and then going on to nail tough tech interviews. 

Check out this ultimate guide to get a detailed picture of how you can overcome interview anxiety. 

After all, we’re friends and friends don’t lie!



Last updated on: 
December 7, 2023

Vartika Rai

Product Manager at Interview Kickstart | Ex-Microsoft | IIIT Hyderabad | ML/Data Science Enthusiast. Working with industry experts to help working professionals successfully prepare and ace interviews at FAANG+ and top tech companies

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