One of the most common questions that I get asked as a coach who specialises in interviews, is how to calm nerves before an interview. Understandably this is very important because even the best-prepared interviewee can end up underperforming and struggling due to interview nerves getting the better of them. Not being able to articulate your answer to going blank during the interview, is a situation you never want to find yourself. In this blog post we’re going to discuss how not to be nervous before an interview and look at various techniques and strategies that you can apply.
how to calm nerves before an interview
1) Don’t put the job on a pedestal
When conducting an interview coaching session, one main factor why a person becomes anxious and nervous before an interview is that they have given this role and the organisation more importance than they actually deserve. What this does is create a psychological imbalance where you consider the role having higher status then yourself. Thus leading to job interview nerves and implanting a sense of FOMO ( fear of missing out), that you cannot afford to be rejected. This naturally creates pressure because you feel you have to perform and this is the only chance and that added pressure actually has a negative effect making you feel more stressed and that naturally leads to anxiety and then nerves.
So to be able to keep calm and minimise interview nerves you have to see yourself as an equal to the role, that it’s nothing special and if you were to miss out on the opportunity and not successful it’s not a big deal, there are more, and possibly better opportunities just around the corner. In addition to this you can even say it’s their loss because they’ve missed out on such an amazing candidate.
2) Keep applying for jobs, have irons in the fire!
As mentioned earlier FOMO is a real thing when it comes to jobs, and what this leads to is irrational thoughts are counterproductive. This will be working to your detriment with regards to helping you prepare for the interview but it’s very difficult to stop. So one approach in how to calm nerves and this feeling is in managing that fear of missing out is that you are proactive and that you’re applying for many jobs and potentially have a number of interviews lined up and what that does is take the pressure off it reduces the FOMO when it comes to to the next interview because you know that there are other interviews in the pipeline. Therefore minimising the emotional damage if you were to miss out which conversely will reduce the interview nerves and put you in a stronger position to land the job.
3) Pause before you answer the question
When a person is nervous or feeling anxious this leads to a number of physiological changes in a person the first being the fact that the heart rate goes up with that you’ll see a shortness of a person spread and naturally with these two things present, the person will talk faster and have less time to think the result of this is that you end up not understanding what the question is or halfway through your response realising that you’ve forgotten what the question Or even not having time for your brain to engage with your mouth leading to a waffley answer.
One of the ways to overcome this type of interview nerves is to instil what I call the three second rule which is to pause for up to 3 seconds before answering any question. What this does is help you feel more in control, reducing the anxiety which results in reducing the nerves. This causes your heart rate to slow down and you’re fine you’ll be able to control your breathing by taking deeper breaths. This also a fantastic approach to how to calm nerves before a presentation.
Since we’re talking about pausing and having time to think, have you ever thought about an Interview Question to Ask Employers? It’s also something that you should have in the back of your mind, since a great question to ask can be a great source of confidence.
4) Focus on the present
With the majority of people, get job interview nerves prior to the interview. However once you’re in the meeting the interview nerves actually go down, but there are some people that the nervousness actually increases during the interview. This is usually as a result of not answering a particular question well and thinking that they’ve ruined the whole interview itself, not just the question. This then leads to becoming more nervous and anxious for the upcoming questions.
One of the ways to combat this is to recognise that what is done is done. Maybe you didn’t answer the question as well as you could have, but that’s the past and you cannot control. However, what you can control is your present and what you’re saying next. So in this instance the quicker you’re able to stop feeling sorry for yourself and remove negative emotions and stay focused on your mission, which is to give the best possible performance that you can give.
5) Small talk before the start of the interview
Interviews can be quite daunting and interviewers quite scary therefore it is really important to re-humanise the interview panel recognising that they are human no different to yourself. A way you can do this is by small talk before the start of the interview.
In a face-to-face interview this is relatively straightforward because there are ample opportunities. It’s very likely that a member of the interview panel will come to greet you in reception, from this point till they walk you to the room and start the interview is the perfect time to engage in the talking process. Be curious, ask questions, talk about your journey to the office, even talk about the weather. Keep the conversation flowing and through this you’ll feel more relaxed as you’re just having a pure human interaction, thus reducing your job interview nerves. Also in this way you are building rapport which will make you more likeable and this will play a positive factor when the interview panel is deciding which candidate to offer the job.
what can I take to calm my nerves
Now you must have heard instances where people take certain types of drugs to help manage their nerves and anxiety for their interviews, however this is not something I personally recommend unless your nerves and anxiety is so severe that it does actually require medical intervention which would then require professional medical help. So below I have gone through a number of ways of how to calm nerves and anxiety.
1) Cold taking cold showers to help managing anxiety and nerves
This comes with a disclaimer that if you do have a medical condition such as a heart condition then again of course I would advise against the best first date to seek medical help. However, if you are a fit and healthy person, cold showers shouldn’t be a problem, and is a simple yet effective way in how to calm nerves.
One of the unique benefits of cold showers is that they force you to control your breathing and if you speak to any medical professional how you breathe has a real impact and how you feel and if you’re able to control your breathing then you can also control the interview nerves. Cold showers for help to control your diaphragm when you initially do it you’ll find that your breathing is very short Because you are unable to control your diaphragm however the more frequently you take cold showers and the longer time you spend with in the shower will force you to gain control of your breathing.
2) Take a brisk walk before the interview
Now I know this might sound like an odd way to reduce interview nerves, however going for a brisk walk or even having a light workout before an interview particularly if it’s a video interview can really help in calming your nerves. This is because GB energy that might have been allocated to becoming nervous has actually been channelled into walking at a fast pace or going to the gym and so what you’ll find is that when you start the interview you’re far more relaxed and calm.
3) Meditate to calm nerves
People underestimate the power of meditation however when it comes to managing job interview nerves it can also be very effective because by clearing your mind and not worrying about the interview will naturally result and you feeling less anxious. If you practise mindfulness apply your mindfulness techniques maybe half an hour before your interview if you’re able to get into the right headspace.
How to be confident in an interview
Confidence is a critical part of a person’s armoury for an interview. Confidence and how to not be nervous are intrinsically linked. One can be very competent in a job however if they are lacking the confidence and getting nervous within in an interview, it’s unlikely that they will be offered the job. From my experience whether you’re interviewing for the NHS as a Band 8a, an AWS L6 or Google engineer role, interviews nerves impact everyone in the say way. So below I’ve listed a few key ways a candidate can be more confident in an interview.
1) Alpha poses prior to the interview
Scientific studies have shown that making alpha poses before an interview can increase a person’s confidence. An alpha pose comes in various shapes and sizes the most popular is the Superman pose where you put your hands on your hips and stick your chest out. What this does is cause a spike in testosterone which is well known as a confidence hormone but also it reduces cortisol levels which is a known stress hormone. So why not give this a try in the mirror for your next interview as it’s a great way to help with job interview nerves.
2) Visualising yourself has been confident within the interview
It’s a well-known fact that some of the best athletes in the world use visualisation to help them perform better in a big game. What this means is that one visualises themselves performing optimally and brilliantly in the game and the same would apply with a job interview. To visualise yourself from the moment you greet the interview and make eye contact to seeing yourself sitting down in the chair demonstrating positive body language and when you’re speaking and answering the question. You’re applying the STAR interview technique with ease and oozing confidence. You’ll find that when you’re in the interview that it now doesn’t seem as daunting and you’re able to actualise some of the positive and confident behaviours that you visualised.
How to calm down before an interview
Staying calm before an interview is vital, the inability to stay calm can undo all the hard work and preparation that is gone in for the interview. Below I’ve listed a number of techniques and strategies that can aid you in staying calm before your big interview and reduce those job interview nerves.
1) Keep yourself preoccupied
Interviews are not like exams, usually last minute cramming isn’t particularly effective and can actually result in you feeling more stressed. With an interview all the hard work should have been done in the weeks and days before the interview itself, and on the day of the interview you should focused in keeping your mind and body fresh. One of the most effective ways to do this it’s not actually worry about the interview. You can do this by keeping yourself busy maybe go for a walk before the interview, call a friend and have a chat with them over the phone or even what’s your favourite television. So when the time comes to perform your calm is primed and ready to go.
2) Make small talk with the receptionist
If you’re going for a face-to-face job interview it’s very likely that the nerves are beginning to kick in soon after you arrive. As the nerves and anxiety increase, naturally that results in you feeling less calm. Therefore, one of the ways to stay calm is to keep yourself engaged and normalise the whole situation and an easy way to do this is to make small talk with the person on reception. They are usually very friendly and will always respond to you with a smile. What you talk about with them isn’t important. You can talk about the weather for your journey to the job interview but just having a normal interaction with someone minutes after going in for your interview can really make a huge difference. Through this approach your nerves will reduce and will humanise the whole interview process for you.