anxiety attack during an interview


I have been working in CSICU icu at a level one trauma center as a charge nurse for 5 years now. We see the sickest patients imaginable, on every drip in the book. I have taken care of patients with open chests, IABP, CVVHD, ECMO, total article hearts, LVADS..... I have a great resume with wonderful references. I felt I was well prepared for the interview and the questions that I knew I was going to get. As soon as I walked into the room with the 10 interviewers sitting behind computers and was asked the first question I froze up. I heard the questions but could not comprehend or make any since of what I was saying. Did I have a CVA? No. I had a massive panic attack. It's funny how I can take care of sick and bleeding patients and tend to excel in stressful work environments but doing an interview is a bust. Perhaps I need to talk to my doctor about taking a low dose anti-anxiety beforehand. It's difficult to balance the fine line of being awake and stimulated to answer questions sharply but not to over stimulated that I freak out. So I don't know if an anti-anxiety is a good idea before an interview. Just disappointed and frustrated because I know I am ready but I have never been a good public speaker. Well, I have one month to do something before my next interview.


224 Posts

Specializes in Family Practice, Urgent Care, Cardiac Ca. Has 3 years experience.

I sometimes struggle with anxiety (which didn't help when I was on our CSICU). Xanax can works wonders at low doses, but I can't get into giving any medical advice per the TOS. I will offer this though: I have a friend who, before going into nursing, had an MBA and had hired and fired a lot of folks. She ran practice interviews with me, helping me come up with answers for all the tough questions, so that even if I was sweating through it, I had a legit, albeit automatic answers. It helped SOO much! Good luck! You'll get through it!

Spritenurse1210, BSN, RN

1 Article; 777 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg.

Oh that sucks. I'm so sorry that this happened to you. I really wouldn't know what to do in your shoes, so (((((hugs)))))))


We totally have different backgrounds since I am a new grad and you are a seasoned nurse, but having been on a lot of panel interviews lately, I hope I can help you out. First, I want to say that you have a great work experience and a great set of skills! Go in there and be confident and show them what you got! I have some tips from my experience with panel interviews:

1. I always started off with a big smile, handshakes, introduction, and by saying I am super nervous but very happy to be there. That broke the ice and made the panel laugh. It eased the tension and helped make my interview more like a conversation.

2. I never rehearsed answers. No one wants to hear a robot and panels can tell which people have scripted answers. Be ready to talk about experiences that have demonstrated your critical thinking, leadership, and prioritization skills, but don't be wordy. Ask the panel questions, too! Don't let your interview become just an interrogation!

3. Remember that the people on the opposite side of the table had to interview for their jobs, too! They were in your shoes at one point.

4. Caution with the meds! I have never heard of anyone I know taking them for interviews but if you are going to, I hope you don't look drugged up on your interview day if that is the first time you are taking it!

Best wishes to you!


446 Posts

Specializes in BNAT instructor, ICU, Hospice,triage. Has 25 years experience.

Just wanted to say you are not alone! I just had an interview Tuesday and froze up too. My brain just wouldn't work. CRAZY! I am wondering if they will give me the job or not.

What kind of a position were you interviewing for? Just curious, I'm an old ICU nurse too.


72 Posts

Sammer, Heart and Jobless have great advice. One of the challenges to interviewing is we never do it. Heart mentioned doing practice interviews with friends and family, I can't think of anything better. Practice makes perfect and the rule still applies to interviewing. Since you most likely will spend time with friends and family over the holidays ask them to tack on an hour or half hour of their time for "Practice Interviewing" If you do choose the med route make sure you know how you act before you go to an interview. Good Luck, Breath and Smile, it happens to a lot of people, it will be ok :)


29 Posts

I know how you feel I just finished an interview. Thought I had blew it due to nerves, but I got in.

Your work experience will go a long way. I had joked and said I was going to take something for nerves before my interview but I didn't. Now you know what to expect, just tell yourself you are a good nurse, safe nurse put your patient's safety first in the interview and you will do fine.

I thought I would be OK in front of the panel but it had my voice shaky I could hear it as I talked. Know why you give the drips you give how they work, airway airyway airway, ambu early

best of luck. if you do take something be sure to see how it affect you. trial run dont want to be zoned out in the interview. LOL


14 Posts

Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. Some great advice and hugs are well appreciated. I think my senses were just really sensitive and i actually heard what my voice sounded like for the first time and it freaked me It was my first pannel interview and froze up. I am awful at public speaking and do much better one on one. Well i will take everyone's advice and keep you posted on my next interview in a month. ....


3 Articles; 2,107 Posts

Something that I do is visualize my mother's face and pretend I'm talking to her. She's always been easy for me to talk to. It helps me to calm down and be confident.

A technique like this, simple breathing exercises between questions, practice runs, or the classic "pretend they're naked" approach might help in the future. I would be careful with meds until you know how you react and how you appear to others while taking them. I have an aunt who swears by anti-anxiety meds, but she definitely looks and acts impaired when she's on them.

Good luck!!


12 Posts

Specializes in CCRN. Has 3 years experience.

sammer, I remember you, don't worry, we were ALL nervous, there is not A PERFECT interview, I thought I had BOMBED my UTC interview, but they offered me admission 3 days later, so rest assured, be patient, and wait for your acceptance letter in the mail:o


240 Posts

Specializes in Cardiothoracic ICU. Has 1 years experience.

beta-blockers have been used for such situations but i wouldn't recommend it.


12 Posts

Man oh man just had my interview yesterday and I sttu sttu stuttered like never before. I was not answering any of the questions I was given smoothly. On top of that I had to write a quick essay or some sort in the end with the panel being there in front of me. How nerve racking. Sucks that you know the field and you know how to be an excellent critical care nurse and you freeze at that moment when it really counts! I wish I can turn back time and get a do over! I feel your pain sammer! I have quite the same background as you and I fumbled with the interview big time. Stay focus and try again is the best thing to do now. Keep your head up!