It’s Not You: The Real Reason Why Job Seekers Face So Much Stress And Anxiety When Interviewing
People who are on the job hunt regularly feel dejected and disenchanted with the interview process. They’ll point to a multitude of reasons as to why they didn’t get the job. It could be due to ageism, racism, sexism or asking for too much money. Oftentimes, they don’t know why they were denied the opportunity to continue interviewing and why the job was awarded to someone else. They’re left with an unsettling feeling, bereft of any closure. Not knowing why they weren’t selected haunts them. The person starts doubting themselves, questions their abilities and wonders if former bosses and co-workers are sabotaging them.
The real reason boils down to a simple premise-it’s a numbers game. To succeed in getting a job offer, you need to go on a lot of interviews. The more interviews you have, the greater the chances of hitting it off with the hiring manager and other interviewers. In this current Covid-19 job market, there are far less choices for people.
Yes, there are some hot sectors, such as tech, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce and Amazon, and online companies, such as Zoom and Netflix. The vast majority of companies are treading water or doing poorly and there’s not a huge appetite to hire. The recent jobs reports indicate lackluster and disappointingly low numbers of new jobs created. Industries, such as travel, hotels, resorts, restaurants, music and concert venues and airlines, are still in deep trouble. In these areas, there aren’t many jobs available, but a lot of people looking. The supply of candidates outstrips the demand. You have too many people chasing too few jobs.
In hot markets, such as they were pre-Covid-19, it was completely different. There was a “war for talent.” Companies had more job openings than applicants interested in their roles. They had to accommodate and bend over backwards to entice job seekers to select them.
Now, it’s completely different. There are too few relevant, appropriate and suitable jobs open for people who are actively looking. This creates stress on an unimaginable level. Imagine a person with 15 years of great experience, previously acting in a senior-level, well-paying position, presently in between jobs in the hospitality sector. Since this area was hit hard by the effects of the disease, there are not many jobs open. The companies are not performing well and need to contain costs. They’d prefer to hire junior-level people and pay them considerably less than they would a person with more than 10 years of experience.
They may interview the experienced person, but it is too easy for the manager to say, “I like your experience. You seem to know your stuff, but we have other people to interview.” This is code for “you’re too expensive and we’re going to find someone cheaper.” They won’t say what’s going on behind the scenes. “The company plans on moving the job to a lower-cost location or to a different country to save money, as we don’t have to pay as much as we would in a big U.S. city.”
With job hunters having fewer jobs to choose from, if you are mid-to-senior level, that means you have even fewer choices. When a person finally gets the chance to interview, the pressure builds. The interviewee knows she must nail it because she may not find another appropriate job anytime soon. This kind of stress is too much to handle. It’s an all-or-nothing feeling. Having placed job hunters for over two decades, I know that when people have less options, they get stressed out and don’t perform as well as someone who has a safe job. They tend to go into the interview anxious and afraid. The interviewer picks up on their nervousness and it makes them feel uncomfortable. The manager starts wondering if the person is the right fit and whether they can handle this tough, demanding job. The hiring manager will wonder if something is wrong and question why the person hasn’t found a job after six-plus months. The interviewee senses the negative vibe from the interviewer and gets more uncomfortable. Things go downhill from there. It’s easy for the company to just take a pass and move onto the next applicant.
The interviewing dilemma boils down to one big issue-there are too few appropriate jobs available with far too much competition. Interviewing is all about the law of large numbers. You need to go on a lot of interviews to secure a new job. With fewer interviews, it is nearly impossible to get a job quickly-unless you luck out and are in the right place at the right time. Since you only have a couple of interviews scheduled, you’re under enormous pressure and it’s nearly impossible to perform well when you’re under this type of duress.
If you are going through this situation, take heart. You’re not the only one. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s not you; it’s the current Covid-19 job market. Things will eventually change. The vaccine will be rolled out and administered. The angst surrounding the presidential election will fade into the background. There will likely be another round of multibillion or trillion-dollar stimulus packages from the federal government.
This will embolden companies to grow and hire. There will be pent-up demand for quality people. When this happens-and it will happen-the jobs will come back. Companies will have bigger budgets to spend on hiring. Job seekers will then be in the driver’s seat. There will be more jobs open and the odds start working in your favor. Hang in there until then. Stay strong, as things will soon change for the better.
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.