First of all, let’s start with the basic question. “Why are interviews held?” There are usually two main reasons why job interviews take place, mainly to make sure that the applicant has the requirements to perform the job (before investing time and money in the employee) and secondly as a form of screening, to eliminate those who are not qualified (Roulin, 2017). In fact, the job interview is usually the first step before one becomes part of a company/organisation.  Many, therefore, experience anxiety about how best to behave and are worried about making mistakes.

McCarthy and Goffin (2004) conceptualised the term “Interview Anxiety” and referred to it as an anxiety felt by individuals specifically in employment interview situations. This anxiety can present itself in five ways, mainly communication, appearance, social, performance and behavioural.

The job interview may be compared to a police interrogation, where the interviewer, like the investigator, tries to uncover evidence about the applicant, while the applicant, like the suspect, is submitted to an array of piercing questions (Roulin, 2017). Apart from the fact that the interview is highly evaluative in nature, during the interview the interviewer and interviewee are strangers, which can be anxiety provoking. The interviewee is in a formal situation with someone he/she does not know and has very little control over what is going on. In a short amount of time, one must build a rapport and show how he/she is a fit for the company/organisation (Schnieder, Powell & Bonaccio, 2019). Unfortunately in some cases, such anxiety has implications on one’s performance during the interview and thus leads to the interviewees not presenting their full potential.

However, in reality, most of the time a job interview is a normal social interaction between individuals who are exchanging information and should therefore be viewed as a platform where the interviewee presents his/her knowledge, skills and experience. It is also a situation where one may evaluate the information provided about the company and verify whether this meets their ambitions and needs.

While in this blog we looked into interview anxiety and what it means, in the following blog we will have a look at the different ways of how to cope with interview anxiety, in order to present one’s best self during an interview.


McCarthy, J., & Goffin, R. (2004). Measuring job interview anxiety: Beyond weak knees and sweaty palms. Personnel Psychology, 57(3), 607-637.

Roulin N. (2017), The Psychology of Job Interviews, Routledge, London and New York

Schneider L., Powell D.M., Bonaccio S. (2019). Does interview anxiety predict job performance and does it influence the predictive validity of interviews? Int J Select Assess.

Ann Julene Hili is a Career Guidance Practitioner with Willingness. She specializes in working with teens and young adults who are in their educational and career transitions. She can be contacted on call us on 79291817.