Managing Interview Stress

Managing interview stress can be a challenge, but it shows employers you can work under pressure. Job seekers share stories about how they kept calm through unexpected interview stress.

One on One Job Interview with a Tiger

Ginny
Florida, USA

My job interview was with the vice president of a large department store chain based in New York City. It was for executive assistant to their Manhattan store.

Although I have an allergy to cat dander and other things like pollen and mold, I neglected to take my allergy medicine that morning because I wanted to keep alert. I didn't think it would matter, as I was heading into a paved city with little or no grass, and then into a department store with no cats.

Apparently that day there was to be an in-store promotion necessitating a tiger cub, which was wheeled into the executive office in a small cage as my interview began. My sense of smell detected it first. Then I turned and saw the tiger cub pacing in a small cage just a few feet from where I sat.

I sneezed, and then I sneezed again, and again and again. There was no way I could stop, as my eyes started to swell, tear and itch. My loud sneezes upset the cat and he began yowling.

I could hardly catch my breath to explain to the interviewer about my allergies and lack of medication. He tried to continue but I could not be professional and businesslike in the midst of my sneezes and the cat's yowling.

After running to the lavatory and popping a few allergy pills, while the tiger cub was wheeled to his promotion, the interview continued. Believe it or not I actually got the job. Perhaps the interviewer felt sorry for me.

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Alarming Job Interview

by Elizabeth
(Madison, WI, USA)

When I was just out of college, I worked as a temp. I was assigned a position in a huge building for a major company for 2 weeks. While on that assignment, I saw a posting for a permanent job with the company as an administrative assistant.

I called and arranged to have an interview over my lunch break the next day (it would be in the same building as my assignment).

I had to take an elevator down to the lobby, cross to the other side, and take an elevator up to the top floor of the other side of the tower. Immediately after the interview began, an alarm went off, and a recorded voice told everyone to go to the stairwell and go down 3 flights and await instructions. This happened over and over again until we were finally on the ground floor. The interview had been on the 30th floor of the building, so we had to do it in 10 stages.

There had apparently been a pipe burst that was flooding the elevators and they were evacuating the building while they got it fixed.

We had to reschedule the interview for the next day, and I went back to work. The next day, I returned for the interview, and the interviewer was effusive with praise for how I'd handled myself the day before during the alarm/evacuation of the building. My experience wasn't quite what they needed, so I didn't get the job, but the interviewer praised me up and down and said she'd love to have me work there. I learned that day that handling stress well during an interview can go a long way to help you make a good impression on the employer.

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