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Your Office Coach

See your anxiety as an employer does

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Question: “During a recent interview for a clerical position, I completely froze when I had to take a timed test of my typing speed. Tests always made me anxious in school, and this typing test brought back all those memories. I began to shake, lost my place, and was barely able to finish.

“The interviewer allowed me to take the test again, but my performance was even worse the second time. When I got home, I called and left a message, explaining my anxiety problem and emphasizing my qualifications for the job. She never called back. How should I handle this problem?”  Skittish About Testing

Answer: Consider this situation from the interviewer’s perspective. First, she discovers that you may have difficulty typing, then she gets a message indicating that the issue is really severe anxiety. The only thing she knows for sure is that hiring you could create problems, though she’s not sure what kind.

To avoid repeating this scenario, you must either forgo interviews that include tests or learn to control your nervousness. One specific strategy for decreasing performance anxiety is repetitive practice. Have a friend give you simulated typing tests until they seem boring and routine, then see if your anxiety response diminishes.

If you prefer to bypass the tests altogether, simply ask the person scheduling your interview whether a typing test will be included. If the answer is yes, call back the next day and cancel, stating that you have decided to pursue other opportunities. No additional explanation is needed.

Many clerical positions no longer require a demonstration of typing speed, so you should still have plenty of possibilities. Just remember that mentioning your anxiety reaction could make an interviewer anxious about hiring you.

Do job interviews make you nervous? Here are some tips that may help: Conquering Interview Anxiety.

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