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Nervousness, Anxiety Can Hinder Men and Women in Job Interviews


New research out of the University of Guelph suggests that people who suffer from anxiety may do poorly during job interviews. And if that weren’t bad enough, get this: Men have more trouble than women.

It is not uncommon to experience anxiety in the period leading up to and during an actual interview, according to research professor Dr. Deborah Powell. Powell, who led the study, said there are several theories that could explain the results.

Anxiety often manifests physically in the form of nervous tics, difficulty with speaking and even trouble coming up with normal answers. It seems that men are actually no more nervous or anxious during the interviews, but they actually experience significantly greater impairments from the anxiety, the authors found.

The study was published recently in Personality and Individual Differences and involved 125 participants. The group was asked to rate their own anxiety level at different points during mock interviews. They also agreed to have their anxiety and interview performance evaluated by someone.

Overall, men and women who registered higher levels of anxiety were prone to poor performances during the actual interviews when compared to their less-nervous counterparts. Yet for some reason, men were penalized more than women after all was said and done. This could be due to the stereotype about anxiety that surrounds men and women which dictates that anxiety is much more accepted among women.

Another theory for the basis of this finding could relate to how women and men cope with anxiety differently. It may be that women use more effective coping strategies than men. For example, they may rehearse being interviewed with a friend or seek emotional support by talking openly about their feelings, said PhD student and co-author of the study Amanda Feiler. “On average, men tend to engage more in avoidance and as a result men do less to prepare for an interview and their performance subsequently suffers.”

These theories are still theories. More research is still needed to make any definitive assertions. But what is clear, the researchers said, is that anxiety impairs candidates’ ability to perform well in the mock job interviews.

Anxiety becomes a disorder when the symptoms become chronic and interfere with our daily lives and our ability to function.

In light of this study, perhaps employers should be sensitive to the fact that prospective employees may be struggling with anxiety and that is perfectly normal. If people are feeling nervous, they might do poorly in the interview. Employers don’t want this as they may be missing out on good candidates. The employers could take steps to reduce anxiety, such as inform interviewers of the kinds of questions that will be asked.



Grohol, John M., Psy.D. “Anxiety, Panic and Phobia Center” PsychCentral. n.d. Web. 28 May 2013.

Nauert, Rick. “Anxiety Can Hobble Men in Job Interviews.” PsychCentral. 24 May 2013. Web. 28 May 2013.

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Kevin Giles is a product of Santa Cruz, CA – the stoner capitol of the world. A born again Christian, Kevin loves his Lord Jesus and believes that his purpose in life is determined by God. He first entered drug recovery at the age of 19, suffering from an addiction to marijuana. He is a recent graduate of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he earned his Master’s degree in Christian Ministry. Passionate about God’s Word, he aspires to become a pastor or missionary. Kevin has also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Monterey Bay. His interests include traveling, movies, golf, fitness and reading. He also enjoys being outdoors as well as spending time with friends and family. Kevin’s faith, education and life experience give him a unique perspective on addiction, recovery and spirituality.

Filed under: Conditions and Disorders, Research · Tags: anxiety, interview, men, women is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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