Overcome Those Interview Nerves – Learn How to Deal With Nervousness Before and During a Job Interview With our Expert Tips

overcome interview nervousness

So you’ve got the call or email telling you to come for interview for the job you’ve always wanted and … you panic! You break into a sweat, your heart races, you ask yourself, what will they ask, how should I answer, what will I wear.

Our first piece of advice is to stay calm and start preparing.

We all know that Job interviews can be immensely stressful, whether you are a first timer or a veteran. It is perfectly normal to feel anxious about the experience, but letting your nerves get the better of you and getting into a panic might jeopardise your chances of success. So how can you overcome your fears and face an interview panel with confidence? Here is the lowdown on how to handle and ultimately harness pre-interview jitters for good.

The Battleground

Us humans may have hauled ourselves up from humble beginnings to the current civilisational peak we occupy, but strip away our fashionable clothes and smartphones and there is still a fragile creature lurking underneath, with a set of animal instincts underpinning our behaviour.

When subjected to stressful situations, it is all too easy to let these instincts to take charge. And a job interview can create the perfect storm of emotions that can knock even the most composed individuals off-kilter.

A lot of this is down to the fight or flight response which floods your system with adrenaline and other potentially disruptive substances. This can manifest itself in lots of noticeable ways, from shortness of breath and blushing to an intense need to use the loo at an inconvenient moment.

The pressure to impress prospective employers often evokes such responses, but mastering nervous urges and turning them to your advantage is not always straightforward.

The Perks – Can Interview Nerves Be a Good Thing?

Firstly it is important to realise that nerves are not necessarily a bad thing; if you learn to leverage them you can even become a better interviewee. With your brain engaged and your senses heightened, you can make connections quicker and perform well when put on the spot.

The trick is to turn the anxiety on its head without getting overwhelmed by it. Because it is equally unhelpful to go into an interview in an overly relaxed state, which might lead to just as many slip-ups as if you are a gibbering wreck.

Walking the tightrope of interview nerves requires practice and preparation, and there are some steps you can take to get ahead of the pack.

The Preliminary Strategies – Staying Calm Before The Interview

Putting your mind at ease before an interview is essential, so make sure you are ready to face whatever questions they might throw at you and are prepared to talk about yourself positively. A lack of prep is likely to increase your natural apprehension about the event itself and make nerves harder to overcome.

Before the interview begins, take as much time as you can to gather your thoughts and work with your body, not against it. If you have the opportunity, taking a short stroll around the block can be immensely helpful, as sitting still will give you time to stew and will not provide the hit of endorphins that light exercise can deliver to quell any qualms.

What you eat and drink before an interview plays a big part in how your nerves manifest themselves. Steer clear of coffee and other caffeinated drinks, as these will make you more likely to appear shaky and unable to concentrate. Drink water, but make sure that you enter the interview room with an empty bladder to avoid distraction.

Some experts advise that chewing a stick of gum can smooth out any jangling nerves, but remember to dispose of it discretely well before you encounter anyone in your potential place of employment, as this is not a good look for a first meeting.

People often find that having a confidence-boosting mantra to repeat to themselves is a boon, whether said out loud in private or echoing silently in your own head. Simply chanting something like “I’m ready for this” or “I’ve got this in the bag” can muster a bit of mettle and make the prospect of the interview less daunting.

The Real Time Tactics to Beat Nervousness During the Interview

Once the interview starts, anxieties can flare up and it is easy to get flustered even if you have begun on solid footing. Reining in your nerves before they get out of control is possible even in the direst of scenarios.

Sitting comfortably but attentively is necessary to make sure you can complete the interview without having to fidget and shuffle around, and to project an air of confidence and dynamism. Slouching is not an option, nor is sitting on the edge of your seat, so try to find a balance between the two; upright and engaged without appearing flighty.

If you feel your hands shaking, do not clamp them in your lap or fold your arms. By clenching your thigh muscles you will calm the shakes and still be able to use them to make open, honest gestures as you speak.

Nerves can crank your inner critic up to 11 and might mean that you miss an important aspect of a question you are asked, so try to focus on what the interviewer is saying. Making a conscious effort to breath evenly and listen will naturally combat other issues caused by anxiety, such as a rising pulse rate, so there are a range of benefits to gain.

Frequently asked questions

1. Should I use medication or alcohol?

We can understand the temptation to use some form of support such as medication or alcohol. Indeed, the idea of something to ‘steady my nerves’ is common however not one we can recommend. With for example some form of tranquilizer you have the risk of coming across as too languid, slow and not enthusiastic enough. When recruiting, we always look for a candidate who is very keen to work with us, who is excited to be at the interview as this indicates someone which will be devoted to the job and to us as an organisation. If they seem too laid back, we may conclude they are just not interested and most likely will not offer the job.
With alcohol you run the risk of drinking too much and coming across as too ‘over the top’ and perhaps hard to manage. And of course showing up for an interview smelling of alcohol or simply intoxicated is a complete no.

2. I think I have clinical anxiety – what can I do?

While getting nervous before a big event such as an interview is normal, severe anxiety can also be an actual disorder, and for which you may need to seek professional diagnosis. There are a range of disorders linked to anxiety and indeed it is one of the most common mental health issues. For example, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress are just some of the classifications. We suggest that as a first step you go see your GP and they will be able to diagnose and suggest treatment as appropriate.

3. How can I tell if my interview nervousness is normal or needs further diagnosis?

It is impossible to generalise however in simple terms if your anxiety is present but doesn’t stop you from carrying out normal day to day functions it is probably not an anxiety disorder. Going to a job interview or giving a presentation is a relatively rare but also stressful event and most people experience a rush of excitement, butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, dryness in the mouth however can start and carry on through the interview. It is quite common for nervousness to diaper in the first few minutes of the interview too. However, if your anxiety is so severe it is actually preventing you from going to the interview you may want to consider further diagnosis.

4. What techniques would you suggest for interview anxiety?

a. Firstly we always suggest proper preparation is the best technique to relieve nerves before an interview. The InterviewGold system will help you by giving you common questions relevant to your job and it will help you create answers. In addition, you practice with the realistic mock interviews so that when you arrive in the interview you are feeling as if its much more familiar.

b. Consider meditation, deep breathing or some form of exercise you can do at home. Mindfulness techniques are great as they keep you in the moment and you can find lots of apps to download and use on the way to the interview.

c. A positive mental attitude is also essential – think of success and you will be successful. Keep in mind it’s a friendly conversation, not a confrontational meeting; the interviewers want you to be relaxed and they will make the environment open and conducive to a great interview.

d. Stay healthy – take exercise, a walk, a run or a visit to the gym can work wonders before an interview. It will get your energy up, will reduce tension and help you feel relaxed and ready for anything.

Overcome Your Interview Nerves with InterviewGold

Want to overcome your nerves and boost your confidence in interviews? Imagine knowing the questions and having the answers? Then have a look at InterviewGold; the leading online system which has helped thousands of job seekers such as yourself, prepare for and win job offers in interviews.

InterviewGold - Online Interview Skills Course

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