Anxiety during a job interview isn’t completely a bad thing. A normal amount of stress sharpens your focus and keeps you on your toes.
Job interview stress becomes a problem when it gets overwhelming, which can derail your communication and confidence and wreck your chances of getting the job.
There are many reasons why interviews are stressful. Being in a position where you must sell yourself and your strengths makes many people uncomfortable.
In a job interview, there’s also a huge power imbalance. The interviewer is analyzing you and has the power to offer or rescind an opportunity.
And what about those unexpected questions, the ones that make your brain freeze no matter how much you’ve prepared?
All these reasons (and more) are what make job interviews a nerve-wracking experience. Here are some ideas to shake those nerves:
Preparation is Key
Nearly everyone knows you should prepare before a job interview. But many career experts say most people don’t do nearly enough preparation.
Thorough research about the company and the job you’re applying for will leave you significantly less nervous during the interview.
Find out as much as you can about the company, the position, the company’s culture, its competition, and information about the interviewer.
It’s also smart to prepare for the most common interview questions. Look up common questions in general and common questions for your job position and industry. Thanks to the career website Glassdoor, you can even look up questions specific companies have asked before.
Practice Makes Perfect
A mock interview is a great way to gain experience. Setting one up with a career counselor will allow you to walk into the real interview with more confidence and less anxiety.
A mock interviewer can give you constructive feedback, and you can rehearse answers to some of the more common interview questions.
These imitation interviews are especially helpful if you’ve been unemployed for a while or if you haven’t been on a job interview in some time.
Career counselors at universities, career coaches, and local workforce services offices are among those you can set up a mock interview with.
Picture Yourself Succeeding
Many top athletes spend time before big games visualizing success. You can do the same thing before a job interview to soothe your nerves.
Spend time the night before the interview visualizing how it may go and see yourself calm and confident. Some career experts and psychologists recommend finding a quiet space to do this and treating it as a sort of meditation.
Another important thing to remember is not to psych yourself out. Job interviews, after all, are just conversations. The interviewer will expect you to be a little nervous and, if you don’t get the job, there will surely be other opportunities in the future.
Stop Negative Thinking in Its Tracks
Interviews are scary enough, so don’t let negative thoughts get the best of you. For some people, that’s easier said than done.
If you let negative thoughts go haywire, it’ll affect how you communicate and your body language, and it can leave a bad first impression.
During moments of doubt, remind yourself you already have succeeded in one way. There may have been dozens of people who applied for the job and you’re one of the lucky ones that got an interview.
The employer is clearly interested in you if you got an interview, so use that positive thought to boost your confidence.
Also remember that interviewers generally expect short and concise answers. One of the things that happens when we get nervous is we ramble on and become long-winded. Stay grounded during the interview by talking about the important stuff and not worrying about giving the perfect answers.
Be Good to Yourself
It’s easy to lose sight of basic self-care when a big interview is coming up. But taking care of yourself will keep your body and mind relaxed.
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the interview and plan your outfit so you’re not rushing the day of. Figure out the commute to the office ahead of time (if the interview is in person) and give yourself plenty of time to arrive.
Eat a good breakfast before you head to the interview and do whatever relaxes you and puts you in a good frame of mind, whether that’s yoga, meditation, or watching funny YouTube videos.
If you do find yourself getting stressed, a great method of calming down is to practice deep breathing. The more you practice deep breathing exercises on a regular basis, the more natural they will become.
Most of these tips are common sense but, as we mentioned, the pressure of performing for a big interview can make our thoughts spin and put us into high gear – at the expense of our mental health.
Job interviews are stressful for almost everyone, so you’re certainly not alone. Taking time to prepare beforehand, doing a mock interview, and practicing basic self-care are all ways to lower stress levels and go into a job interview with a clear head.