Seventy-three percent. That number represents job seekers who say that looking for a new job is one of the most stressful things in life. Almost seems like an obvious statistic, right?

Nearly all of us have experienced the nerves of waiting for a call or email to invite us back for a second interview. But it does make you wonder about the other 27 percent -- how come they are not stressed?

Maybe it is because they are the ones who are getting the second interviews.

You see, when you are consumed by stress, it shows. You really, really want the job. So, you spend the interview searching for the right words to express this. You are focusing all your energy on what you think the hiring manager wants to hear -- rather than telling the truth of your career experiences.

Our Aha! team interviews thousands of candidates each month. Personally, I see this a lot when I speak with candidates via web video meetings. People often scramble for the "right" answer. But an interview is not a quiz -- it is a conversation. There should be a back-and-forth to discover if you are a fit for the role and company and vice versa.

There are a few reasons you might not get to that final round of interviews though -- or even past the initial screening call. It might be that you did not have the qualifications to begin with. Or that you did, but your nerves got the best of you.

If the qualifications are there, then it might just be a matter of refining your interview skills. And the good news is that one bad interview is not a career ender.

Here is what to do differently in your next job interview:

Do your research

You can bet that the hiring manager spent time looking through your work history -- show them that you did your homework too. Review the specific job listing as well as the company's website and social accounts to get a sense of their vision and values. Then, prepare questions to fill in any gaps in your knowledge. You may not have a chance to ask all your questions during the interview, but simply writing them down ahead of time will prepare you for a meaningful conversation.

Tell a story

Do not spend the interview listing out the bullet points on your resume -- the hiring manager has already seen those. Instead, share the story behind those key details. Before heading into the interview, spend some time reflecting on your career and accomplishments. You could even practice telling a few stories with a friend. The goal is to tell your unique story in a crisp way that is truthful and engaging.

Avoid canned responses

Yes, you want to be prepared with your career story -- but you do not want to sound rehearsed. Resist falling back on a well-practiced speech. And certainly do not memorize an interview answer you found online. Hiring managers are human too. They will be tempted to tune out anything that sounds staged. You are looking for a back-and-forth conversation, not a monologue.

Give it straight

All of the above comes back to being direct and honest. There is no need to exaggerate your skills or inflate your past titles. Sure, a little white lie could land you a second interview, but that goodwill cannot last long -- the hiring manager will eventually see through your embellishments. Be truthful about where your strengths lie and where you are looking to grow. It will only help you both to make the right decisions.

Remember that a job interview is not a one-sided benefit skewed towards the prospective employer. It is also your chance to figure out if the role and company are a fit for you.

So, if you find yourself stressing over finding the perfect words -- stop. Take a breath. Speak truthfully. The hiring manager will respect you for it. And if the qualifications are there, they will likely call you back for a second interview.  

What do you do to reduce stress while job searching?

Published on: May 31, 2018