For those of us with social anxiety, the job interview can feel like some sort of cruel experiment. You’re put in a room with complete strangers who are there for the explicit purpose of judging you and determining whether or not you’re “good enough” to work for them based solely on small tidbits of information and their first impression of you. It’s a nightmare. It seems like job applicants with social anxiety are at a complete disadvantage in the job market simply because we find it difficult to socialize in situations which make us feel uncomfortable.
As people with social anxiety, we are used to creating methods for ourselves in order to operate in a world that does not accommodate us. These are called coping mechanisms and they have varying levels of effectiveness depending on the individual and the situation. While being in an uncomfortable social situation such as a job interview will never be ideal, there are ways to trick yourself into feeling less uncomfortable through calming methods and positive self-talk. But how do you begin? It’s tricky to just bust out a bunch of positive self-talk without having a method or end goal. You know where this is going, right? Let’s dive into some lesser known, incredibly effective methods of dispelling social anxiety to in order to prep for the job interview.
- The Sharpay Evans Method
Even if you aren’t a fan of the “High School Musical” movie trilogy, you know who Sharpay Evans is — the over-the-top overconfident high school diva, complete with pink feather boa, blindingly bright wardrobe, and flair for the dramatics. The Sharpay Evans Method is meant to give you a major boost of confidence and get you out of your own skin. Sometimes, the best way to conquer the fear of feeling embarrassed is by letting yourself act crazy. So, do your best, most obnoxious Sharpay Evans theater warm up in the mirror. Let yourself look crazy. Get the jitters out. Let yourself be loud. Let out your inner Sharpay. Now, it’s time for your Sharpay Evans pep talk. Tell yourself how fabulous you are. Give yourself the confidence you need and deserve. Pump yourself up as high as you can. And then, clue yourself in on the universal secret: failure is never the end. If this interview doesn’t work out for you, that is not the end of the world in the slightest. You still have your fabulous self and no judgy interviewer can take that away from you. The Sharpay Evans Method is guaranteed to get your bodily anxiety out and give you the boost you need to walk into the interview room with confidence.
- The Jack Sparrow Method
Sometimes, the trickiest part of being in a social situation is not being comfortable in your own skin. So, when this happens, try jumping into someone else’s skin. Think of someone that exudes the kind of confidence and swagger that you want, even if it’s a fictional character. Think about what it is about that person that convinces you of their apparent confidence (i.e. their body language, mannerisms, speech patterns, etc.). Sometimes, the best way to develop a sense of confidence is to embody someone that embodies the confidence you are looking for. It helps you get out of your own head and stop hyper fixating on what you look like to others. So, go full method actor. Walk into the room and give the interviewer your best Jack Sparrow impression. Well, maybe not a full Jack Sparrow impression. Take the physical qualities that make someone appear confident and weave them into your own qualities. Think of it as a little performance. You are performing the act of being confident. Of course, the trick with this method is not to become so focused on the embodiment that you forget to be yourself. Don’t go too hard. Adopt just enough of a persona to convince yourself that you are a confident individual. In time you’ll find that the longer you pretend, the less pretending you have to do. It’s really all about faking it until you make it.
- The Sherlock Holmes Method
Of course, method acting isn’t for everyone. But, one thing that is beneficial to all is preparation. This method is designed to give you the assurance of one of the greatest sleuths in the world and requires you to go full detective mode. The Sherlock Holmes Method is nearly exactly what it sounds like — it’s the act of snooping until you feel you have enough information to make a move. Read up on the company you are interviewing for. Check their digital presence. Do they have social media? What is their vibe? Some larger companies even have anonymous reviews on sites such as Glassdoor. See what former employees have to say. If you know who is interviewing you, it’s never a bad idea to check them out as well. Research enough to give yourself a sense of what working there might look like and what the interviewer might be expecting from you beyond simply what the job description states. And then, if you’re still a little nervous, research some more. There is no limit to the research you can do. Plus, learning more about the job you’re applying for will give you the ability to prepare questions which demonstrate your expertise and diligence. There really is no such thing as being too prepared. Just ask Mr. Holmes.
In all seriousness, social anxiety is a really difficult thing to navigate. It can convince you that you don’t belong in the outside world simply because it does not accommodate you in the same way that it accommodates everyone else. But, this could not be farther from the truth. You have so much to offer, and no amount of anxiety will change that. So, don’t be afraid to ask for patience. If you find yourself getting nervous or uncomfortable during the job interview, ask your interviewer if you could have a few moments to breathe. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking your potential employer to give you the space to put your best foot forward. These methods are helpful, no doubt, but the most effective method for social anxiety is just giving yourself permission to reground and regroup. And if you need an extra boost of confidence, just remember that it takes some superhero strength to be able to carry yourself in the world with social anxiety. You are basically a superhero.