9 Ways To Calm Your Job Interview Nerves

Updated June 30, 2023

You've found a job posting you love, polished your resume, submitted your application and now you've landed the job interview. Congratulations!

However, if you’re like many job seekers, this is right around the time your nerves about the interview begin to surface and make you dread what is,   in reality, an amazing opportunity. While nervousness can stem from many reasons, being able to overcome it is crucial to setting a confident and well-collected tone when meeting with potential employers. 

In this article, we’ll look at some ways to conquer those nerves before and during the interview.

Why do we get nervous?

Nerves are the body’s natural response to perceived threats, both real and imagined. When the stress response is triggered, the body starts preparing to fight or flee, which can result in physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or breathing, pale or flushed skin, clamminess and trembling.

These responses are involuntary, and while they are helpful in a dangerous setting, they can lead to those feelings of nervousness when the threat is minimal. Fortunately, there are several practices and techniques you can try to ease your case of the interview nerves.

Related: How To Overcome Fear of Failure

Image description

A person sits before three individuals during a panel interview.

How to calm your nerves before the interview

Here are five tips you can use to help relieve nerves before a job interview:

1. Prepare yourself

One big reason we get nervous before interviews is a fear of the unknown, and while we never know every question we might be asked, preparing for the most common questions will go a long way to reducing nervousness. Before going to the interview, research the company, practice your responses to common interview questions, have a mock interview with a friend and have your resume and notes ready.

Write down any questions you may have, particular points about yourself that you’d like the company to know and any notes you want to mention or remember. Being able to quickly reference your notes during the interview is a great way to refocus when you feel your mind start to freeze.

Learn as much as you can about your interviewer, too. Are they the hiring manager or direct supervisor for this role? Will you be meeting with one person or a panel? Having an idea of what to expect will make you feel calmer and more comfortable.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview in 11 Steps

2. Plan your day around the interview

Your day will be more productive if you adhere to your schedule and stick to any plans you may have. Arrange for your job interview to take place in the morning if possible, so you are not stressed and waiting for it all day. 

The night before, make sure you get plenty of sleep so you can be alert. Make a plan to go somewhere fun or exciting after the interview so you will have something pleasant to look forward to.

3. Eat breakfast

Eat a good breakfast before your interview so you have the energy you need. Being hungry can add to your worry and stress. Choose one of your favorite foods to help with your mood.

4. Talk to a family member or friend

Talking to a cheerful friend or family member can greatly boost your confidence level. It’s easier to listen to someone else’s positive words than it is your own, and hearing compliments from a loved one can ease nervousness.

5. Take a break

Being outdoors is good for your mental health, and exercise releases positive neurochemicals. Try to go for a 15-minute break before your job interview, or take five minutes to walk around before entering the building to help clear your head.

Related: 15 Things You Should Do Before an Interview (Plus Tips)

How to calm your nerves during the interview

Even when you are well prepared, nerves can still creep in during the job interview. Luckily, there are several things you can do to help relieve nervousness in the moment. Next time you’re nervous at an interview, try these tips:

1. Try the STOP method

The STOP method is a mental technique to help you overcome stressful situations. The steps of this technique are:

  • Stop what you're doing and focus on what you’re thinking.

  • Take a few deep breaths, as many as you need.

  • Observe what is happening inside your body. Observe your emotions, what thoughts are in your mind and why you are feeling these things.

  • Proceed with the intention to incorporate your observations into your following actions.

The purpose of the STOP method is to slow down and be aware of what you’re doing and what you’re feeling at that moment. It allows you to remember that you are in control of your actions and thoughts.

Related: How To Relax Before an Interview (With 13 Tips)

2. Focus on your breathing and pause before you speak

As often as you can, focus on your breathing. This will help keep your mind from wandering and your emotions from spiraling. Before you speak, pause for a moment and take a breath. Paying attention to your breathing aids in remaining calm, and pausing before speaking gives you more time to put together a thoughtful and composed response.

3. Remember you're having a conversation

Reframing how you think about an interview can help to relieve stress, as well. Remind yourself that a job interview is a conversation, not an interrogation. They're trying to figure out if you would be the best fit for the role, but this is also your chance to determine if the position and the company would be a good fit for you.

Having questions at the ready and being curious can help to create a more equal power dynamic and lessen feelings of intimidation.

Related: 30+ Questions to Ask in a Job Interview (With Video Examples)

9. Show confidence

During your interview, practice active listening, which includes nonverbal cues such as nodding as well as smiling. Smiling can also trick your mind into feeling happy, which will allow you to relax a little more.

Related: How To Appear Confident in an Interview

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