As part of Mental Health Month, Clayton Legal are urging hiring managers in the legal industry to consider the role anxiety plays in a candidates’ interview performance.

Interview anxiety can be a major obstacle for those looking for work – particularly in the legal industry, where the typical candidate will be ambitious with a solid career path in mind – triggering additional stress to secure the steps needed to achieve a successful future.

Meeting strangers in a position of authority, being evaluated and attempting to sell yourself can easily onset social anxiety. But does that mean you are unable to cope with the everyday stresses a job in law would invite? Is it fair to candidates to make such rash decisions primarily based on projected confidence?

Lynn Sedgwick, MD of Clayton Legal, weighs in on this subject:

“An overwhelming number of employers place too much emphasis on interview confidence. If two candidates with exactly the same experience and skills interviewed for the same position, employers will almost always hire the candidate who projected more confidence in the interview.

“It’s certainly understandable why so many employers value confidence and poise – these are viewed as desirable traits, because they often indicate leadership qualities such as decisiveness and strong people skills, which are certainly crucial attributes for anyone in the legal profession.

“However, by placing so much emphasis on confidence, you might be at risk of overlooking other key attributes and skills. We need to learn to look beyond the anxiety that nervous candidates bring with them to interviews to focus on the skills, attitudes and attributes that really matter.”

Ms. Sedgwick was quick to point out that interview confidence should not be devalued or ignored:

“I’m certainly not suggesting that confidence isn’t important, but I do think it’s worth looking at the bigger picture – everything that a candidate has to offer and what factors might be affecting their performance on the day of the interview – rather than writing them off in the first minute.”

According to Anxiety UK, 1 in 6 people will experience a common mental health issue every year.

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