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Attention nervous nellies — especially men — you need to get your emotions in check if you want to land a job, new research shows.
A study by researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada discovered that job seekers who are anxious perform worse on job interviews, with the effects greater for men than women.
Deborah Powell, one of the study's authors, said anxiety during an interview can present itself in a number of ways, such as nervous tics, difficulty speaking and trouble coming up with answers, all of which are known to influence hiring outcomes.
The research shows that while men are no more anxious than women during job interviews, they experience significantly greater impairments as a result of anxiety. As part of the study, 125 students participated in a mock interview. They each rated their own anxiety levels, as well as had them evaluated by an interviewer.
Researchers found that overall, anxious men and women were rated lower on interview performance than their less-nervous counterparts, with nervous men penalized the most.
"It could simply be that people have stereotypes about anxiety and that it's more socially acceptable for a woman to be anxious, while for men, it may look out of character," Powell said. "They may be expected to be less emotional and more assertive."
One of the study's co-authors, Amanda Feiler, said women and men might deal differently with anxiety, with women more likely to use effective coping strategies. She added that women often practice being interviewed with a friend or seek emotional support by talking about their fears.
"On average, men tend to engage more in avoidance," Feiler said. "As a result, men do less to prepare for the interview and perform worse."
But regardless of gender, the study found that it's clear anxiety impairs candidates' ability to perform in job interviews.
"It would be advantageous for both men and women to learn to effectively deal with their interview anxiety," Feiler said.
The researchers said job seekers should learn as much about the company and about the selection procedures you'll go through so that they're not surprised on the day of the interview. Additionally, they advise spending time going through practice interviews, trying to anticipate some of the questions that might be asked.
Powell said research also suggests that when people are anxious, they appear less warm and enthusiastic, which are two key determinants are of interview performance.
"It is important that job candidates' nerves do not affect the impression they are giving to interviewers," Powell said.
She said job seekers should also remember that interview anxiety is not necessarily transparent.
"You may not look as nervous as how you feel," Powell said. "Try not to think too much about how nervous you appear to the interviewer."
Powell said employers should also bear some responsibility. She advises telling job candidates what to expect during the interview, including the types of questions to be asked, as a way to help reduce anxiety.
"Employers need to remember that interviews are anxiety-provoking," Powell said."If people are feeling anxious, they might do more poorly in an interview than they would otherwise, and employers may be missing out on good candidates."
The study was recently published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.