Four tips for overcoming interview nerves
6 min read | Josie Davies | Article | Job searching Interview advice
Everyone experiences nerves at some point in their life, often when they’re doing something outside of their comfort zone: sitting an important exam, going on a first date, or learning to drive, for example. Another situation where worries can get the better of you is a job interview – especially if it’s your first one. Acknowledging that there will be a degree of nerves and accepting that it’s okay to feel like that can help with managing those feelings, but there are other ways you can set yourself up for more confidence and self-belief.
If interviews are causing you to be overly stressed and anxious – you might be flustered, hot and sweaty, have palpitations, a dry mouth or a foggy head – then you likely won’t be performing to the best of your ability. It’s time to combat these nerves and empower yourself to come across as well as you possibly can to your potential new employer.
Follow these tips below…
Calm jitters with thorough research
Lacking confidence that you’ll perform well while waiting to enter an interview – perhaps because you’re not as prepared as you wanted to be – is an awful feeling that can be easily avoided. You’re likely going to feel nervous if you’re worried about appearing to know little about the company, which is often one of the first questions asked in an interview. Avoid this scenario by putting solid time into interview preparation: research the organisation by looking at their website, social media accounts, recent news articles, and publications, to give yourself some insights.
Impressing the interviewers with your knowledge and enthusiasm about the role and sharing your passion for the organisation and its purpose is a great way to build a rapport with them, which should in turn make you feel far more at ease.
Other ways you can prepare include familiarising yourself with the job specification, practicing competency-based questions, and asking your recruiter or experienced friend to conduct a mock interview with you.
Fuel your brain with a good night’s sleep
It’s proven that inadequate sleep can have a detrimental effect on your mental state – increasing your risk of anxiety, frustration, and hyperarousal – while also negatively impacting your attention span, memory, and communication skills. This can all contribute significantly to your nervousness and performance during an interview, so it’s vital you get a solid sleep the night before.
To give yourself the best chance of getting the full six-to-eight hours, make sure your interview preparation is done in advance, so you’re not left cramming the night before. Avoid looking at screens late at night, as blue light can hinder the release of the melatonin, the tiredness hormone.
Set yourself up for success by thinking ahead
Having to run to the bus stop or train station on the day of your interview will leave you feeling stressed and not looking as put-together as when you left the house. Even worse, turning up late to the interview will likely make you flustered and not able to think as clearly, which will impact your ability to perform. To avoid this unnecessary worry, make sure you plan the route to your interview in advance, allowing plenty of time to account for any delays, such as public-transport cancellations, traffic issues, or being unable to find the office straight away.
For remote interviews, it’s a good idea to test for any technical issues ahead of time, then join the meeting a little earlier in case you encounter any difficulties that you need to tell the interviewer about. Being punctual and prepared, both for in-person and video interviews, will help you achieve a calm mindset.
Quick tricks to calm your anxiety
In her research, social psychologist Amy Cuddy found that engaging in expansive poses – which she refers to as “power poses” in her TED Talk – can help to increase confidence. She suggests faking it until you become it. Breathing exercises can also be an effective way to calm your nerves as you’re sitting in reception waiting to be called in for your interview. Just taking several deep breaths can help to regulate any anxiety: for a more comprehensive guide, take a look at NHS guidance on breathing exercises for combatting stress.
Finally, it’s important to remember that your interviewer is human, too! They also experience nerves, perhaps even when they’re interviewing, as they’re hoping to showcase their organisation at its best. It’s highly likely they’ll empathise with a little nervousness, and remember, they’re not looking for absolute perfection.
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About this author
Josie Davies - Career Coach & Employability Skills Trainer.