12 Ways to Calm Your Interview Nerves (Because You Can Do It)
You’ve gone over every possible interview question there is. You’ve done extensive study on the company. You’ve been anticipating and preparing for this moment for what feels like years, and it’s almost here.
Except you’re a nervous wreck. Maybe it’s a few hours away, maybe it’s only a few minutes, but you want to do something to get yourself back in control before it happens.
It’s a good thing you’re reading this because we have 12 things you can do right now to soothe those interview nerves—at least one of them will work.
1. Take a Walk
Everyone benefits from fresh air. If you have a phone interview, go for a walk around the block (or, if you’re feeling ambitious, go for a run to release all those beneficial endorphins). If you are attending in person, take five minutes before entering the facility to stroll around and clear your mind.
2. Use the S.T.O.P Method.
This, according to executive coach Chris Charyk, is the ultimate mental strategy for dealing with any stressful scenario. This is how it works:
Stop what you’re doing and pay attention to your thoughts.
Take few deep breaths.
Examine what’s going on in your body, emotions, and thoughts, as well as why you’re feeling that way.
Continue with the objective of incorporating what you noticed into your activities.
The significance of this strategy is to slow down and be deliberate not only in what you do, but also in the feelings you let to take control. It reminds you that you have the ability to overcome your own fears, uncertainties, and nerves in even the most stressful conditions.
3. Plan for the Worst
Whatever your greatest fear is, there is always an answer. Do you have lettuce in your teeth? Put a small mirror and floss in your purse (among these other essentials you should always bring to an interview). Concerned about not being able to respond to a difficult question? Be proactive in your approach and understand how to hide your tracks when you don’t have an answer. By planning ahead of time, you can fully relax, knowing that even if the worst comes, you’ll be more than prepared to handle it.
4. Make a cheat sheet for interviews.
Planning for the worst is just as vital as preparing for the best. The more you have planned ahead of time, the less you have to worry about. So, make a note on your phone and scribble down all the essentials: the building address, the hiring manager’s name, the time, the three key points you’d like to convey in the interview, your questions, and anything else that comes to mind. Then, just before you’re called in, pull that baby out and you’ll feel so secure you’ve got it all covered.
5. Make a plan for what will happen after that.
So, while you may not be looking forward to nervously sweating for two hours in front of a complete stranger, what would motivate you to persevere? What about a good meal? What about a massage? A date with your dog and your favorite Netflix show? Sure, why not. Whatever it is, plan for it to be ready for you when you finish—that way, you’ll have something exciting to look forward to and focus on instead of your anxieties.
6. Eat a Healthy Breakfast (or Lunch)
A great interview begins with a fantastic meal. For some, this means choosing a nutritious option that is high in energy-boosting antioxidants. It could be indulging in your favorite comfort foods for others. There is no right or wrong response; just do what feels right for you (and eat something—no one can offer effective interview answers if their stomach is grumbling).
7. Provide a Pep Talk to Yourself
It’s not weird to talk to yourself—a it’s good idea (and scientifically proven to help motivate yourself). Tell yourself everything you need to hear: you’re clever, you’re qualified for this role, and you’re going to rock it. Say it out loud (this helps it to stick) and with confidence. Just make sure you do it in a peaceful spot.
8. Make a positive phone call to a friend.
Nothing beats the support of a kind, supportive friend or family member. I’ve called my mother many times before a large, stressful event, and it makes all the difference (and I’m not ashamed to admit that I still do it as an adult). Simply put, if you can’t give yourself a pep talk, let someone else do it for you.
9. Listen to music.
Or whatever else gets you going (a podcast, a speech by your idol). This way, instead of negative ideas, you may fill your mind with energy and excitement.
It’s no secret that smiling helps you feel more confident, even if you’re faking it, so what’s the harm in giving it a shot?
I already know the answer: none. More better, if you keep it long enough, the hiring manager will like you even more.
11. Make Adrenaline Out of Your Stress
Because nervousness and adrenaline are highly associated, research suggest that being pumped up rather than calmed down (saying “I’m excited” rather than “I’m calm”) before public speaking delivers better results.
So, if you’re trembling and your heart is pounding, that’s a positive sign. Take it as it comes. “By reframing your nervous energy as excited energy, you can still feel hyped up—just in a way that helps,” writes Muse writer and consultant Mark Slack.
12. Keep in Mind That It’s Just a Conversation
Finally, remind yourself that you are not about to leap out of an airplane or fight a shark. You’re standing in front of one or two people, having a pleasant talk about your career. In his piece “How to Keep Your Cool When You Interview With Your Dream Company,” Muse writer Richard Moy said it perfectly: “As much as you want to work for them, they’re also genuinely hoping you’re the one.”
So the onus isn’t all on you. Remember that this isn’t just them interrogating you—you have questions you want answered, and they’re probably concerned about making a good impression as well.