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Social Situations Make Me Anxious: How To Get The Job When You Feel Socially Awkward

Terri Davis magazine

reddit logo on mobileIs social shyness holding you back? Here are some low-anxiety ideas for increasing your job chances.

 

OK, so you feel awkward and self-conscious in social situations. So do lots of people. Social shyness is a very common phenomena. And everyone feels some level of social anxiety in every interaction. Most people can hide their social anxiety pretty well, but some can’t. If you are one of the ones who can’t, or you feel you can’t, I’m sure you might feel a lot like this reddit user whose social awkwardness, they feel, is getting in the way of getting a job. In the reddit sub r/interviews, u/I_have_questions01 asks:

I have absolutely no communication skills and have been unemployed for two years. Is there any hope for a 24-year-old like me?

This has been the feedback through the 30+ interviews I’ve had over the last two years. I’ve always had communication issues since I was a kid and I could never get any social intelligence, no matter how hard I tried. This is putting me into a serious depression and no matter how much I try it’s useless.

EDIT:- These interviews were for IT and sales jobs. Yes I’ve got a damn college degree and I can’t talk myself into a small, part-time job.

What should I do?

I had two interviews over the last two weeks. One was for a retail job at the Levis store and another was an IT role for a client at HSBC. I got rejected for both and the feedback was that my answers were good, however my conversational skills were lacking. One told me that I could’ve used hand gestures to be interactive with the customer, while the other flat out said my communication was lacking.

I’ve had mock interviews with my brother and a friend of mine, they both said the same thing. I say the right things, but I come off stiff and bland, where I come off sounding like a robot. So really the content is good, but the delivery is where I’m extremely lacking. Another thing is that I stutter a lot which is something that I can’t help.

My reply to u/I_have_questions01,

My guess is you actually have communication skills, based on how well you write and how you express your thoughts on this issue. Social anxiety and social awkwardness are common with the majority of people. If it makes you feel better, I know people who feel socially gregarious who have applied for 50+ jobs and also haven’t been hired. The whole hiring process creates anxiety and not winning a job over two years can really work on your esteem. Have you ever thought of working with a career coach? Someone with experience you can trust who can help you overcome some things that might be keeping you from getting that job? It might be that this has hit your esteem hard and you just need a boost to see that what’s happening to you happens to million of people? Many people are socially shy or awkward; it’s so common that I feel like an experienced recruiter or career coach could help you with skills to land that job, despite your feelings about yourself? I totally understand how being out of work and denied jobs can work on your self esteem. I would encourage you not to see yourself negatively.  You’ll only make yourself feel worse. Work on the few small things that might be getting in your way, and don’t give up. I know applying for job after job without success makes you feel like the problem is you. But it really might not be you at all. And if it is, there are likely some things a good coach could help with, without it being costly for you. But choose wisely. And good luck! Don’t get down on yourself. Something will click. Just stay with it.

u/I_have_questions01, and anyone else who can identify with these issues, if you struggle with stuttering, simply announce this to your next interviewer at the top of the interview. This isn’t something any interviewer with integrity would ever hold against you. This allows you to get it out of the way in a confident manner so you won’t feel as anxious about if and when it happens. It’s not a big deal. Anxiety is likely making you feel so self-aware by over-rehearsing everything in your mind, and afraid of saying even the wrong thing. So, you stiffen up, and you, as you say, come across as a robot or bland. Two things: don’t re-play what might happen and rehearse yourself into a panic. Just know how it is you can help the company with whom you’re interviewing, and have stories of how you did that in your past roles elsewhere. Telling a story is not only the easiest way to loosen up and liven up your ‘delivery’ but it also keeps you in control of the interview, because the interviewer, being a human being, will lend an easy ear to your story. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t even have to be that interesting. It just has to be important to the new role you’re trying to land. Human interaction, no matter who it is, creates some level of anxiety, it’s just the way it is. Instead of thinking you’re the abnormal one, remember that most people, if not all people, experience some level of social anxiety. Because you have more trouble hiding yours, this might just make you a very sensitive person, which is a highly desirable trait in people, especially for certain positions and careers. You can even explain to your interviewer that interviews make you nervous but you’re so excited you’re there and have an opportunity to join the company. Every recruiter knows that every interview is stressful for the potential candidate, no matter who you are. Your confidence will come through in your honesty, and you will merit some points for integrity.

That’s a powerful place to start from. Now tell your story and get that dream job.

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