According to a recent study by Harris Interactive and Everest College, 92% of U.S. adults are anxious about job interviews, with general anxiety being the most common fear at 17%.
The group polled 1,002 employed women and men between the ages 18-54 by phone, with surprising results: the second largest fear for interviewees was being overqualified at 15%. An additional 15% cited not knowing the answer to the interviewer's question as a concern, and 14% were concerned about being late.
American men express a greater concern of being overqualified than American women. John Swartz, spokesperson for Everest College, was surprised by these findings, and suggests that overqualified may not be the word those polled were searching for. “I think that if an individual is really feeling that way, they have to dig a little bit within themselves and ask why," Swartz says. “If you have 20 years of experience, and the job you're interviewing for only requires 5, that doesn't mean you're necessarily overqualified," Swartz explain, continuing, “it's all about what you've done in the last 20 years."
The term overqualified may also be tied directly to salary, Swartz notes. “A lot of time people tie in compensation with being overqualified…[taking a little less] might not mean you're overqualified." An increase in economic growth, sending previously unemployed and laid-off persons back to work, may be the result of this high number, Swartz speculates.
Alternatively, being under qualified showed a much smaller number, at only 11%. For those making less than $50,000 or not possessing a college degree –– a possible indicator of less work experience or qualifications –– the largest factor of anxiety was actually nervousness, with 22%. Only 11% of those considered high-earners within the survey ($75,000-$100,000 salary) cited nervousness as a contributing factor to their anxiety.
Other factors also resonated with the polling audience, with making a bad impression, 10%, and being underprepared, 10%, as their largest concerns. There were, however, a solid 7% that claimed to not be stressed by any aspect of the job interview.
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Date of original publication: August 20, 2013
Updated: September 04, 2016