Interviewing for a Job When You Have an Anxiety Disorder


You become obsessed with finding the right job. You have a long list of criteria it has to match just so your anxiety won’t be a problem with doing the job.

You refuse to let the negative thoughts cloud your head and push the “what ifs” out. As long as you find the right job, you know you will be fine.

You finally find one that matches your impossibly long list of criteria and you didn’t think it would be possible.

You click “apply” and fill out the application. You adjust your cover letter and resume to fit the position and once you click submit, you pray.

After what seems like you’ve submitted hundreds of applications (in reality it’s probably only 10), you finally get a call regarding a job interview. You drop everything to make sure you can be there and start planning what you will wear, what time you will have to leave to get there on time and search the company’s website for what it stands for. You make sure it’s an equal opportunities employer and that they won’t judge you if you have anxiety.

The day comes and you get ready, all the while watching the clock. You force yourself to eat something and get in the car and go.

You double and triple check the location, making sure you at the right building, correct floor and that the organization’s name is correct like on the email confirmation you got.

Once you have it sorted out, you find a place to sit because you are 30 minutes early. This is too early, but you wanted to be sure you found the right place and would have extra time in case you got lost — despite printing out directions and using a GPS to get you there.

You make sure you have the correct information and in order to pronounce everything right, you cling to the email printout like it’s a lifeline and will provide you with support during the interview.

You make sure to walk into the building exactly 15 minutes early because by now you have worked out that 15 minutes is an acceptable time to arrive. You decide 30 minutes looks too eager and you don’t want to make the interviewer feel rushed or like they have to see you right away.

You say your name and that you are there to be interviewed for a position, all while trying to keep it together inside despite wanting to run out the door.

You take a seat where you’ve been directed and look around the room. You practice your breathing exercises, question what you are wearing and wonder if your makeup is OK. You check if your phone is on silent for the 15th time and wonder if it would be OK to check Facebook.

You get called into a room. it’s bright and airy and the interviewer looks friendly enough, but you can never be sure.

You wait for the first routine question because you have done this all before.

“So tell us about yourself,” the interviewer says.

You wonder if they would judge you if you mention you have anxiety, but decide to keep your mouth shut for now. So you instead tell them a rehearsed spiel about how you have two sisters, two cats, live at home, have a blog, love to bake and volunteer for a mental health organization that is very close to your heart (without mentioning it’s because you have anxiety). You mention you chose this field because of work experience you did when you were 17 and the rest is history.

The interview continues on with more standard questions. All the while you question if you said the right thing and wonder how you are coming across.

You consider maybe mentioning your anxiety if it comes up, but it doesn’t. You realize they don’t suspect a thing. Maybe, just maybe, you can hold off telling them until you have the job as they did say they were an equal opportunities employer.

You let your hands under the table fiddle with your rings and bracelets to keep your anxiety from getting in the way and figure anything is better than biting your nails in front of the interviewer.

Then the dreaded question comes.

“Do you have anything to ask us?”

You sit and think for a while, wondering if you should tell them about your anxiety before finally saying, “I have anxiety. It’s under control and I am on medication for it, but how will you support me if I start to struggle in this job?”

The interviewer smiles at you and starts to ramble how it’s not a problem and they will support you as long as you do the work and can handle it all.

The interview eventually finishes up and you walk out of there feeling lighter and hopeful that this job will be the one.

Then the waiting game starts. You take your phone with you everywhere and make sure it is always charged. You tell your family and friends how you are hopeful this is finally the job for you and your unemployment might finally end soon.

Your phone rings and you recognize the number. You answer it, but with just a few words, your world starts to crumble.

“I’m so sorry you didn’t get the job,” the voice  on the other end of the line says.

Your dreams of what you could have been fade away until you can’t help feeling like a failure. You ask for feedback and get told while your interview technique was good, you just weren’t quite the right fit for the job. You let the tears fall and realize there is a better job out there for you and you just haven’t found it yet.

The next day you start the process all over again.

Follow this journey on Erin’s Antics.

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Thinkstock photo via opolja.

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