Many job candidates spend a lot of time trying to figure out how not to be nervous for an interview, but end up even more anxious than before! There are so many tips and pieces of advice out there that it can be hard to know where to begin.
But at the end of the day, a simple and straightforward approach is always the most effective.
This list of the best ways to calm your nerves before (or during) an interview will help you tackle the big day with confidence!
1. Rehearse & Prepare
A bit of pre-interview anxiety is completely normal. One of the best ways to combat those feelings is to address the issues that worry you the most. For a vast majority of interviewees, the possibility of being unprepared is what makes them nervous for the interview!
That’s a reasonable concern. There are many possible questions to answer, and your goal is to come off as put-together and professional as possible. So why not put in some rehearsal time to ease your nerves?
Take a look at common interview questions and prepare answers to cover all your bases. You can even have a friend perform a mock interview with those same queries to simulate the off-the-cuff nature of these situations.
Think hard about the tough ones, and don’t be afraid to write things down to lock them into your memory. Prepare relevant STAR stories for the job you are interviewing for. Try not to recite answers verbatim. You still want to sound organic and natural.
But being prepared with answers and resume highlights goes a long way. You can go even further by researching the company and thoroughly reviewing the job posting beforehand. That way, you have a good idea of what to expect before walking through the door, and you’ll be able to calm your nerves before the interview.
2. Focus on Your Breathing
Here’s a tip that you can use to calm down before an interview. It’s easy to get overwhelmed preparing for interviews, and unexpected questions can throw you a curveball. Don’t let the stress of the situation take over your body.
Take a few moments to focus on your breathing. Your breathing can change when nerves take over. Focus on completing several long, deep, and even breaths.
There are numerous breathing techniques to help you calm down and lower your heart rate. One of the most popular is the STOP method.
It requires you to stop what you’re doing and focus on your thoughts. Then, take a few deep breaths and observe what’s going on in your head. With those observations in mind, proceed calmly with intent.
You can do the STOP exercise before you go into your interview to enter clear-headed and ready to go. A quick pause to collect your thoughts and focus on your breathing even during the conversation goes a long way in helping you relax during an interview
3. Take a Walk
As simple as it seems, a brief walk can help you not be nervous for an interview. Something about the fresh air and physical exercise help many people collect their thoughts and say goodbye to mile-a-minute nerves.
Try to schedule a 10 to 15-minute walk before your interview. If you have the time, consider going for a brisk jog (this is great before a phone interview). The physical exertion will release endorphins that put your mind at ease.
Don’t have time for a lengthy walk? Get to your interview destination early and do a five-minute walk around the building!
That’s more than enough time to breathe and calm your nerves before heading into the interview room.
4. Practice Positive Self-Talk
You’d be surprised by how big of a difference shifting your own language can make. Psychologists say that positive messaging can significantly impact your beliefs and actions. If you’re dealing with overwhelming stress about this interview, it’s time to practice some positive self-affirmations.
You know deep down that you’re more than qualified for this job. You likely feel that you deserve it, too. Tell yourself that, and repeat mantras that put you in the right mindset.
Something as simple as “I deserve this job, and I will have a fantastic interview” is enough. Repeat that mantra and change the way you talk about this experience.
Instead of dreading it, treat it as an opportunity. “I want to prepare for this interview,” and “I’m excited to talk to the hiring manager.” That positive self-talk can make all the difference when it comes to managing interview anxiety.
5. Address Your Biggest Fears
As mentioned earlier, practicing for the interview can help you overcome the fear of not being prepared. A big part of calming your nerves before an interview is to prepare for all worst-case scenarios.
You likely have many concerns about the big day. What if you don’t know how to answer a question? What if they bring up that big empty period in your work history? What if they ask about that time you were fired?
The best thing you can do to calm your nerves is address those fears and prepare for them.
Take a look at the job posting and your resume and think about all the possible questions that could throw you off. Find ways to shape potential red flags in your applications as a positive. For example, you can talk about what you learned from terminations and how you’ve grown since that experience.
Don’t stop at interview questions. If you’re worried about messy hair or bad breath, prepare for those situations! Once you do, you can have some peace of mind and calm your nerves.
Quick Tip: Do you get sweaty palms? Sit on your hands, palm down, before shaking the interviewer’s hand.
6. Pick Your Outfit Ahead of Time
It’s always good to have your interview outfit picked out and ready to go. Don’t forget to ensure that it’s appropriate for professional meetings, and take care of pressing and ironing.
Try it on and make sure every piece is comfortable. The last thing you want to deal with is chafing shoes or ill-fitting shirts. You have enough things to think about on interview day.
Take time to choose the right outfit. A good ensemble can make you feel confident and ready to conquer the world. That’s why they call it a power suit!
7. Know Where You’re Going
Another worry that interviewees have is being late. Address that fear head-on by knowing where you need to go.
Confirm the address and get directions. We’re blessed to have GPS technology at our fingertips at all times. While you should undoubtedly take advantage of it on interview day, don’t wait until you’re about to leave to look at the route.
Spot any potential traffic risks and find the easiest route. If possible, find the location before your interview day. That way, you’re not pressed for time and stressing out trying to find the building.
8. Start Smiling
Smiling can do a lot to sway your emotions and help you not be nervous for an interview. It can make you feel a little more positive. Plus, it can fill you up with a swell of confidence.
It might feel weird smiling when you’re a bundle of nerves, but give it a try! Fake it until you make it! At the very least, you’ll come off as pleasant during your interview. That’s always a big plus.
9. Practice Confident Body Language
In addition to smiling, change your overall body language.
Slumping your shoulders, keeping your head low, and looking like the embodiment of defeat will get you nowhere. Negative body language will make it hard for you to calm down during an interview. Plus, it doesn’t make a positive impression on hiring managers or interviewers.
Sit up straight, put a smile on, and walk with confidence. Keep your shoulders back and keep your head high. Positive body language sends off a good message to others.
But more importantly, it can keep you calm and put your mind at ease.
Quick Tip: Before the job interview, go to the restroom and do the Super Hero pose – feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips, shoulders back and chin up! Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
10. Embrace the Nerves
Instead of combating your nerves, have you ever thought of embracing them?
Being nervous before an interview is normal. It’s a big event, and there’s no way to minimize its impact on your future. While you should certainly take steps to put extreme anxiety under control, there’s nothing wrong with pre-interview butterflies.
Instead of viewing your nerves as a negative thing, embrace them! Use those nerves to your advantage. Think of them as fuel to the fire you have lit underneath you.
You want to command this interview and impress the hiring manager, right? Let the butterflies give you some extra energy. Use that adrenaline to stay on your toes and prepare for any curveball the interviewer might throw your way.
11. Have Something to Look Forward to When You’re Done
The pressure of preparing for an interview can take a lot out of you. Want to make it all worthwhile? Plan something fun afterward.
Think of it as a treat for all your hard work. It could be a posh dinner, some relaxing time playing video games, or a mellow spa evening to yourself! Whatever the case may be, use that object as your light at the tunnel’s end.
It’s your reward for getting through the interview in one piece, and the thought of something fun ahead will help you relax before an interview.
12. Fuel Up
Before heading to the interview location, eat a healthy meal.
Your nerves will take a lot out of you, and many people find themselves exhausted after the interview is over (especially after they send their thank you email). If you don’t eat, you run the risk of wearing yourself out even more.
Plus, there’s the risk of your hunger distracting you during the interview. Avoid all that by eating a healthy meal before you go in.
There’s no right or wrong choice here. You can eat a full breakfast or keep things light. Whatever you do, choose a healthy meal that provides you with plenty of energy to make it through the interview. Your energy levels will also be one less thing you’ll need to worry about!
13. Take a Pause
Here’s a way to calm your nerves before and during the interview. Simply take a pause whenever you feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
It’s better to stop yourself, collect your thoughts, and answer clearly and concisely. If you ramble right through your thoughts, you might end up blabbering on more than you should. Every answer should be well-thought-out.
Don’t let your nerves prevent you from doing that. Take a brief pause, focus on your breathing, and get yourself together before answering. As long as it’s not more than a few seconds, your interviewer shouldn’t have any issue with it.
14. Reach Out to Your Support Group
Here’s one of the most effective but overlooked ways to not be nervous for an interview. There’s nothing better in times of stress than the comforting voice of a friend or loved one! When you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out. A supportive friend or family member can listen and help you calm down.
If you can’t manage your nerves alone, let someone else give you a hand! Call someone you trust before walking in. Their words of support and reassurance might be the thing you need to relax.
15. Listen to Some Music
Music is another excellent way to manage your emotions and calm your nerves before an interview.
What you listen to is up to you! It all depends on what you need at the moment.
If you’re not feeling confident, try listening to jams that pump you up and provide plenty of energy. If you need inspiration, listen to your favorite artist or even a podcast of someone you respect. Try classical music or something that calms you down if you feel jittery.
Music is transformative, and it does wonders to manage your emotions. Listen for a few minutes as you walk to the interview location. It’ll help clear your mind and get rid of negative thoughts.
16. Gain Some Perspective
There’s no denying that interviews are a big deal. But when you become so enraptured in the stress of the situation, you can start to forget the reality of things. One way to calm your nerves is to shift your perspective.
Remember that the interviewer is another human being who is doing their job. At the end of the day, this interview is nothing more than a conversation with someone. Furthermore, the person interviewing you has 1000 other things they need to do or would prefer to do. They are human just like you. They may even be nervous too.
Don’t put too much pressure on the interview. It’s nothing more than a stepping stone. If things don’t work out now, you’ll have many more opportunities in the near future.
Changing your perspective can help you relax and understand that this experience, while significant, is not the end-all-be-all of your career.
17. Don’t Rush Your Answers
During your interview, do your best not to rush your answers. That sounds easy enough, but you’d be surprised what nerves can do to your ability to communicate.
When formulating your responses, don’t be afraid to take a pause and collect your thoughts. Speak clearly and slowly. Don’t think you need to get every answer out as quickly as possible. Remember, this is a conversation!
Go back and forth with the interviewer and talk normally. Engage with the person you’re talking to and exchange ideas. It can feel very formal, but it’s a normal conversation you don’t have to rush. Asking questions during the interview and having questions ready to ask at the end helps make the interview more conversational.
Think about your responses and breathe easy. Once you get into the rhythm of the conversation you won’t be nervous about the interview anymore!
Now that you know how to calm your nerves and not be nervous for an interview, we recommend picking the tips that appeal to you the most. You’ll find that some methods will naturally appeal to your personality and approach more than others, so run with them!
With a little bit of practice, you’ll find that interview anxiety will lessen with time, and your confidence will skyrocket.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.