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People who are anxious perform poorly at job interviews

ANI  |  Washington 

Are you nervous about job interview? You might want to take steps to reduce your jitters, especially if you are a man.

People who are anxious perform more poorly in job interviews, and the effect is worse for men than women, according to new research from the University of Guelph.

"Most job applicants experience interview anxiety prior to and during interviews," psychology professor Deborah Powell, who conducted the study with PhD student Amanda Feiler said.

Anxiety often shows up as nervous tics, difficulty speaking and trouble coming up with answers, all of which are known to influence hiring outcomes, she said.

While men are no more anxious than women during job interviews, they experience significantly greater impairments from anxiety, according to the study.

The study involved 125 undergraduate students who participated in a mock interview: 43 men and 82 women. Participants rated their own anxiety levels and had their anxiety and interview performance evaluated by an interviewer.

Overall, anxious men and women were rated lower on interview performance than their less-nervous counterparts.

But nervous men were penalized the most, ranking far below equally nervous women in post-interview measures.

The researchers have several theories to explain the results.

"It could simply be that people have stereotypes about anxiety and that it's more socially acceptable for a woman to be anxious," Powell said, "while for men, it may look out of character. They may be expected to be less emotional and more assertive."

Feiler said women and men might deal differently with anxiety, with women more likely to use effective coping strategies.

"They may practise being interviewed with a friend or seek emotional support by talking about their fears," she said.

"On average, men tend to engage more in avoidance. As a result men do less to prepare for the interview and perform worse," she added.

But what is clear, the researchers said, is that anxiety impairs candidates' ability to perform in the job interview.

The study is published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

First Published: Fri, May 24 2013. 10:04 IST