Person sitting by the sea; how to calm anxiety
Career Advice, Interview Tips

12 ways to calm nerves before an interview

Pre-interview jitters affect everyone. Even as a recruiter whose job it is to interview people on a daily basis, can you believe that I still get nervous before interviewing other people? It’s natural.

Whilst I can’t take nerves away completely, I can give you my own advice from a recruiter’s perspective and my own tips learned through CBT therapy to help you manage your nerves and anxiety before your interview. So grab a brew and make yourself comfy, because this post is a long’un!

The most important thing to remember before attending your interview is:

WE ALREADY LIKE YOU!!!

Think about it. If you’re coming in for an interview, that means we saw your CV/application and we liked it. In some cases, you may have already had a first stage telephone interview with us… and we still like you!!!

If you’ve been invited to an interview, there is something in your CV that makes you stand out enough for us to think that you could potentially be the person we’re looking for, and we’d like to get to know you more!

Remember: You have to interview us as much as we need to interview you.

I’ll probably be saying this in nearly every interview post, but an interview is a two-way street and you have to, have to, have to interview us as much as we interview you.

I know, you’re nervous, you really want to impress your interviewers and get the job, BUT… do we impress you? The decision is ultimately yours. You’re the one who is going to be working for us, so you have to decide if we are the right choice for you.

Do we tick your boxes? Do you get good vibes when you meet us? Do you feel like you’d fit in well with us and our team? You have to find out all of this information to be able to make your own informed decision as to whether this is the right place for you to flourish.

And if you get bad vibes or decide it’s not quite right? Please, trust your gut, be courteous, and withdraw yourself from the recruitment process.

Hopefully, that has put your mind at ease a little bit, but there are still some things you can do, so grab a pen and make a note of these 12 ways to calm your nerves before an interview:

Remember to be well-prepared!

Whether you’re preparing for a video interview or a face-to-face interview, make sure that you have done as much research as you can. If you’re worried that you don’t know enough about the company, the opportunity, or your interviewer, read the information again and again, until you’ve satisfied yourself.

Write down your worries and how to overcome them

When you’ve got an upcoming interview, you probably have so many “what-ifs” going around in your head. Declutter your mind, by writing down your worries and give yourself peace of mind by finding a solution.

For example: what if I ruin my outfit? Pick out a backup outfit and make sure it’s ready to wear just in case.

What if I have something in my teeth? Take a compact mirror for a final check.

What if I forget what I want to say? Write down everything you want to ask/say in a notebook and take it with you for reference!!

Practice some breathing exercises

If you find yourself really panicking, just stop and take a moment to focus on your breathing. Deep, controlled breaths will level your heart rate out and naturally calm you down.

My favourite one is square breathing and I use walls or windows as guides. I love this one because you’re also focusing on looking at something whilst breathing, so a double distraction! Here’s how to do square breathing:

Avoid stimulants on the day

Yes, this includes your morning coffee!! If you’re prone to pre-interview nerves, stimulants actually kick-start the nervous system and could make your anxiety symptoms feel worse or harder to control.

Stimulants, typically found in coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, and energy drinks, can increase your heart rate giving you those dreaded palpitations, and also create energy in your already anxious body which can then lead to you feeling jittery, shaky, and jelly-legged.

Stick to water as much as you can to keep yourself feeling fresh and hydrated, and it will also keep your mouth/throat from drying out!

Take mints

Did you know that when animals get scared they don’t eat? It’s the same for us humans too and it’s part of our fight or flight response as our bodies prepare us for a “dangerous” situation.

That’s why when we’re nervous, some of us might experience a loss of appetite. However, eating can trick our brains into thinking we are safe; since we are eating, there must be no danger!

That’s why I highly recommend taking along some mint imperials for on-the-go relief as peppermint has been known to have a positive effect on moods and reducing stress.

Just what you need before an interview!!

Practice positive affirmations

When we’re nervous and anxious, we often plan for the worst based on our worries and fears. We go over and over worst-case scenarios and almost rehearse what to do if things go wrong.

But we’re just focusing on the negatives! Instead, why not plan for the best? Practice using positive affirmations to change your mindset and eventually you’ll be able to stop being nervous about failure and start becoming excited about new ventures!!

Smile!

You’ve heard of the saying “fake it until you make it”, right? Well, this is exactly what smiling does when you’re nervous!

You may not be aware of it, but when you’re nervous, it shows!! However, smiling, even when you’re not happy, can trick your brain into thinking that something good is happening!

Forcing a smile and laughing can reduce stress and lower your heart rate. Oh, and you look much more approachable too!!

Accept water (if offered)

Hands up who gets a dry mouth when they’re nervous! Because SAME. Even 5 years later, I still get nervous interviewing people, so I always take a glass of water for the same reason!

You might find yourself overthinking things like “omg, am I making too much eye contact?” “Is my smile starting to look creepy?” “Do I look too nervous?”. This is where having a glass of water to break those thoughts can come in handy.

Pause the brain, take a deep breath, have a sip, and go again.

Sit up straight!

Ooh, this is a real pet peeve of mine; stop slouching!!! Body language tells me a lot even you’re not aware of it, and even if you don’t mean to!

If you leaned back in the chair with your arms dangling by your sides, to be honest? You look like you’d rather be elsewhere.

However, if you sat down in the chair, slightly leaned forward, straight back, and hand on the table, I would feel like you mean business. You look attentive, interested, and engaging. A great way to make a first impression!

Imagine talking to a friend

Being nervous ahead of an interview is totally normal, and we even expect it from you, but I really wish the people I meet weren’t so afraid of me!

The way we interview is changing. Times are changing. You’re probably picturing being in a huge boardroom in front of a panel of corporate robots who don’t know how to laugh.

I’m not going to lie, there are still some companies who interview like that, but quite a lot of them have actually become more relaxed in their interview methods. Recruiters and interviewers are just people and we like normal stuff like everyone else!

As long as you maintain a level of professionalism, just talk to us, make some jokes here and there, and I promise, you’ll start to feel much more relaxed.

Listen carefully to the questions asked

As Judge Judy loves to say “you got to put your listening ears on!”

I know it’s hard because you’re practising your response in your head to make sure you say the right things, but if you don’t listen carefully, you could miss a key point in the question and not give the answer we’re looking for.

If you’ve prepared well (click here if you’re not sure if you’ve prepared enough!), then listen to the question, take a deep breath and speak slowly. Speaking slower and clearer will also give your brain time to catch up with your mouth and avoid the dread word diarrhoea!!!

If you need a moment to collect your thoughts, take a sip of water (another bonus to accepting a drink!).

Reward yourself!!

If you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU SO MUCH! It’s a lot to take in, I know, but you’ll be pleased to know that this is the last point.

One thing I advise everyone to do ahead of an interview is to arrange something you’re going to look forward to doing afterwards. Whether it’s a a lunch with friends, a coffee date, a trip to the shops, or a long soak in the bath, you deserve it!!

Interviews aren’t easy on the mind and emotions, so make sure you’ve given yourself something enjoyable to help you destress, relax, and unwind.

We all perform differently under pressure, but the harsh reality is, being held back by nerves could end up costing you the position.

Please remember, we are human beings too! Every single one of your interviewers has been interviewed before and we have all felt the emotions you’re going through right now.

We know you’re going to be nervous, we’re expecting you to be, and we make allowances for that. But it’s down to you to show us that you really are the right person to come and join our teams!

If you can take all this information on board, I’m confident you’ll be able to smash your interview.

Good luck, I’m rooting for you!!!

10 thoughts on “12 ways to calm nerves before an interview”

  1. This is such a reassuring post! It’s so simple when you say; ‘we’ve invited you in because we like you’ – I always forget that! The psychology behind the mints is genius, too – I’m job hunting at the moment so I’m absolutely bookmarking this page to come back to and revisit ahead of any interviews! Thank you so much for sharing.
    Kate x
    http://www.findingkate.co

    Like

  2. Such good tips here! I really could have done with this blog post before my last interview. I really wanted the job, but I have bad anxiety anyway so I was extremely nervous. I’m not sure I give off the best first impression! Your point about mints is fascinating, definitely something for me to try next time!

    Like

  3. These are such great tips! The mints thing especially, I’ve never thought of that before but it makes so much sense! And the extra freshness never hurts either so there’s an added bonus there. I love the comment about interviewing each other. I think sometimes how engaged you are and the questions you ask make you stand out more than how well you answer a question x

    Sophie

    Like

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