NEW YORK (MainStreet) — There are few factors more instrumental to the hiring process than the interview, and yet just about everyone has an unhealthy fear of them. According to a recent survey conducted by Everest College, 92% of Americans have a fear of at least one part of the interview process.

Maybe it's because of a perceived uncertainty or the added pressure from a competitive job market, but virtually every demographic has exhibited a specific phobia about interviews. Interestingly, the study revealed how much one's education level, gender, income, and age group play a role in what part of interviews respondents dreaded the most.

For instance, different age groups tended to fear separate aspects of the interview process. Those surveyed that fell into the 18 to 34 age group were more likely than Baby Boomers to cite making a bad first impression as their biggest interview fear.

Income was also a powerful influence on job applicants' interview anxieties. Respondents with higher incomes felt less anxiety about being interviewed. Over a fifth of households with incomes below $50,000 cited nervousness as their biggest fear towards interviews compared to only 11% of those earning $100,000 or more. Households earning between $75,000 and $100,000 per year were more likely not to fear anything about the interview process compared to respondents making between $35,000 and $50,000.

There are some gender differences at play as well: it seems that men and women tend to fear completely different aspects of the process. The women surveyed cited both nervousness and the inability to answer a question as the scariest aspects of an interview. Men, on the other hand, cited being overqualified as their biggest concern.

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One's education level also tended to weigh heavily on what aspects of the interview were feared the most. Of those surveyed who only had a high school diploma, 22% reported nervousness as a fear during the interview process – nearly double that of college graduates.

So what exactly is behind this fear? It might have something to do with the economy. Tom Hart, Chief Marketing Officer of Eliassen Group, an IT recruiting firm, believes that the current job market has contributed significantly to job candidates' sentiments toward interviews.

"The uncertainty, instability and unpredictability of the economy have all continued to play a large role in candidates' fear of interviews since we began to recover from our most recent recession in 2009," he said.

The best way to conquer this fear is to arrive well-informed and prepared. This entails doing some research on the companies and industries that you hope to work in.

"Research and study the company before the interview," said Tom Gimbel, president of La Salle Network, a Chicago-based recruiting firm. "That means going further than just looking at the means researching the company's employees, communication style, culture...reading articles the company's CEO or executive team has been featured in, knowing their competitors and their points of differentiation, etc. Confidence is key during an interview, and confidence comes with knowledge."

--Written by John Okoye for MainStreet