The good news is that you’ve landed an interview. Great! But after some reflection, that excitement might turn to nervousness, and that’s perfectly normal. Seriously. Before you start panicking and thinking, “How do I not be nervous about an interview?" take a moment to reflect. There are a lot of things you can do to calm your nerves before an interview and project confidence and professionalism, and they don't require sitting on a velvet pillow and chanting, "Ohm…" (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)
In this article, we’ll discuss ways to calm your pre-interview nerves, including:
Why do we get so nervous about interviews?
Is it okay to tell the interviewer that you're nervous?
Tips to calm your nerves before and during an interview
So why do we get nervous, anyway?
Two words: stress response. When we perceive a threat, real or imagined, our body prepares us with a series of physiological responses, including an increase in adrenaline. This causes increased heart rate and blood pressure, along with rapid breathing, all of which gives you a heightened sense of nervousness and anxiety. This is great when you're being stalked by a tiger; but not so much when you're interviewing with Linda from HR.
Remember, when you’re facing an interview it’s normal to feel stressed out, and might even be helpful. Being nervous is your body’s method of getting you ready for an upcoming event that’s new, important, and out of your usual comfort zone. In fact, just knowing that nervousness is normal can help you rein in your fear and help you deal with your feelings.
Can I tell the interviewer that I’m nervous?
It’s totally normal to be nervous in an interview, and the hiring manager most likely expects it. But while it’s okay to be nervous, you might want to keep that information to yourself. It’s fine to say, “I’m excited about this opportunity,” but make sure you don’t start to ramble. In fact, the interviewer is probably observing your body language and can tell if you're waging war with your nerves. Better to prepare ahead of time so that you project confidence and professionalism with both your words and actions.
5 Tips for calming your nerves before and during an interview
Let’s get down to the “nitty gritty.” You want to know how you can be confident in an interview, and we’ve got you covered. Once you’ve practiced your behavioral/situational interview questions until they’re second nature and learned everything you can about the company you’re interviewing with, there’s still more you can do. You don’t have to stay a sweaty bundle of nerves.
1. Don’t forget to breathe
Try some breathing exercises before your interview. It couldn’t be more simple: Inhale through your nose for a count of three, hold it for three seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four. You can close your eyes if you wish, but it’s fine to keep them open (and if you’re driving, please do!). This breathing pattern focuses on your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax.
2. Have a snack
No one feels their best when they’re hungry (hence the whole “hangry” phenomenon). Having a nice meal before your interview can help provide you with a steady source of energy, and reduce stress. But watch the caffeine — a little is all right, too much and it can make your nerves even worse.
If you can’t stomach a full meal before an interview (pardon the pun), consider a banana, which contains tryptophan, potassium, and naturally occurring beta-blockers and can help ease your nerves. While it’s not scientifically proven, even the placebo effect can be helpful in addition to having a little something in your stomach.
3. See it in your “mind’s eye”
The concept of positive visualization is not new — top athletes have been utilizing it for years. Imagine yourself in the interview, acing all the questions, being professional yet charismatic, and getting a job offer before the interview is over. It sounds simple because it is. Remember, it’s easy to get caught up in negative self-talk. But your brain tends to believe what you tell it, so take time to convince it you’ll be a success.
According to the American Psychological Association, positive visualization can help people highlight their inner strengths, including self-esteem, creativity, focus, and a sense of calm. The most effective way to do positive visualizations is to focus on all aspects of the scenario, not just the successful finale.
4. Know who you’re meeting and how to get there
It might sound silly, but you need to know where you're going. Getting lost or worrying about parking once you get there can make your stress levels skyrocket. Plan out your route in advance and take traffic, distance, and even weather conditions into consideration.
Knowing who you’ll be interviewing with can also calm your nerves, especially knowing whether it’s a panel interview or a one-on-one. Consider doing a little pre-check on the person or people you’re meeting with, too. A quick check of LinkedIn or the company's website can give you a little bit of information to help you prepare some topics for small talk, which can help establish a connection and reduce your nerves.
5. Remember to S.T.O.P
The S.T.O.P. method is a technique that can help you deal with stress. Remember to:
STOP what you’re doing and concentrate on your thoughts
TAKE a deep breath (or two)
OBSERVE how your body feels, as well as any emotions you’re experiencing. Don’t judge, just observe them
PROCEED with what you were doing, keeping in mind what you’ve just observed
The whole point of the STOP method is to slow down and take a moment to focus on your feelings. This helps you to remember that you are in charge of your thoughts and actions, and not any outside forces.
When you’re nervous, it can feel like the world is coming to an end. But it’s important to keep a sense of perspective and remember that you’re interviewing with another human being who actually wants you to do well — it would actually make their job easier if you’re the right person for the position!
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t make a bigger deal out of an interview than it already is. Even if you really want the job, your life will not come crashing down if you don’t get it. There will be other opportunities. Remember the more interviews you do, the less intimidating they’ll become. Just take a deep breath and have a snack. You’ve got this.
If you really want to take nerves out of the equation, consider utilizing our interview prep services.
Nervousness is caused by our body’s stress response, which gives you a heightened sense of nervousness and anxiety.
You don’t need to tell the interviewer that you’re nervous. Consider using our stress reduction tips to project confidence.
To reduce nervousness, do your research, practice positive visualization, and remember to breathe.