Interviewing With A Difficult Head

Okay, exciting news! I’ve been invited to interview for an admin post.

Less exciting news! I have absolutely no idea how to interview.

I get the principles of interviewing just fine – go in, be confident, be friendly, don’t ramble, think about answers beforehand. But actually doing this in practice is a completely different kettle of fish, because my head just does not work on interview days.

Thanks for that, brain.

It’s hard to explain, because it isn’t just interview nerves. I can deal with nerves, but I can’t deal with not being able to function. On interview days my anxiety kicks up a gear, because it actually matters that I convince people that I can function, that I’d be able to work for them. It matters that I struggle to get through an interview.  In an interview, I might be trying to ward off a panic attack, where it hurts to breathe and it takes so much energy to keep the panic from spilling over that I can’t really think clearly. I might be so exhausted and so drained from the anxiety-depression that it is hard to be enthusiastic and confident. And it’s particularly hard to cover up the fact that I am not well, because my brain works so differently on my bad days. I end up trying to act out ‘good-day’ me, but that’s hard too, because trying to connect all the different aspects of functioning together is near impossible. I become a parody of myself.

And the other major problem is, how much information do you give potential employers? I do put down anxiety / depression on the equal opportunities forms, but knowing how much to reveal is hard because you don’t want to put employers off. Day-to-day, I know that I am mostly functional…but other people don’t know that. In an average spell, my bad days will just see me be more tired and less enthusiastic than usual. I work more slowly and need more breaks, so while it’s not ideal, I wouldn’t be the worst employee in the world. I certainly work hard the rest of the time to make up for it. But interviews show me at my worst. Employers do ask you to say if you need any special arrangements, but I don’t know what would help, apart from not interviewing! You can’t seriously rock up and explain that the best thing they could do to help is to ignore you and not take your interview seriously.

So it’s particularly problematic since there is no alternative to interviewing, and it’s even tougher because the longer I’m unemployed, the harder it is going to be to get a job. Interviews will become ever more stressful. So I need to interview successfully now. Pressure much?


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