Being nervous before a job interview is extremely common, especially when you’re new to the workforce. But if the prospect of an interview is turning you into a nervous wreck, staying calm might seem like an impossible task. Learn what you can do to calm your nerves before a job interview and breeze through the process without a hitch.
Identify What’s Making You Nervous
Chances are, it’s not the interview itself that’s making you nervous, but instead, a specific aspect of it. Ask yourself what it is that you’re really worried about. Knowing the primary cause of your interview anxiety can make it easier to prepare for the situation.
For instance, if you’re scared of being put on the spot or answering a specific interview question, preparing answers for common questions will make you more likely to have a response ready. On the other hand, if you’re nervous about getting a rude interviewer, remember that you can cut the interview short if you need to.
Research the Company
You’ve likely heard that you should research the company you’re applying to, but this doesn’t mean looking for statistics. Instead, you want a better idea of the company’s goals, culture, values, and accomplishments: who they are, what they do, and what they want to do.
How will this help in your interview? Alison Green, the hiring manager behind the blog Ask a Manager, explains that having this background information can help you understand what the company hopes to achieve. When you know what they want out of their employees, it’s easier to respond to their interview questions.
Rehearse Common Interview Questions
While every job interview is different, some interview questions are pretty common across all jobs and fields. By preparing for the questions you’re most likely to receive, you’ll be able to respond quickly and smoothly, rather than stuttering or pausing for a long time because you were caught off-guard.
You can either practice these questions with a friend or family member or practice by yourself in a mirror. Some frequent interview questions include:
- “Tell me about yourself.”
- “What interests you about this job?”
- “Why should we hire you?”
- “Why did you leave your last job?” or “Why are you looking to leave your current job?”
- “Tell me about a time when…”
- “What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?”
- “What is your biggest accomplishment?”
- “Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?”
- “What experience do you have with…”
- “What are your pay/salary expectations?”
Frame it as a Two-Way Discussion
It might not feel like it, but interviews aren’t a one-way interrogation about seeing if you have the skills for the job. They’re meant to be a two-way conversation, where the employer sees whether you have the skills for the job and where you decide if the company has the right culture and opportunities for you.
Instead of viewing the interview as them analyzing you, view it as a discussion where you and the company get to know each other and decide if your goals match.
Just like how you prepare answers for your interview questions, prepare some questions for your interviewer. What do you want to know about the workplace and its culture? What do they view as a standout employee? Having a two-way discussion with your potential employer can help you feel like you’re on equal footing with your interviewer, and as a bonus, it shows them that you’re genuinely interested in the role.
Pretend You Won’t Get the Job
Pretending you won’t get the job might seem more likely to sabotage your interview; after all, you’re probably nervous because you’re worried about not getting the job. But some people struggle with feeling like they have to get the interview perfect to get the job, leading them to stumble mid-interview.
Approaching the interview with a no strings attached attitude can remove some of the stress and pressure, helping you feel more relaxed and making it easier to have a great interview.
Put Yourself Together
If you feel self-conscious about how you look, handling any stressful situation (job interview or otherwise) will be much harder than it needs to be.
Get plenty of sleep the night beforehand, eat a good breakfast or lunch the day of the interview, groom yourself appropriately, and wear well-fitting, professional clothing. If you feel physically put together before your interview, you’ll have an easier time feeling mentally put together, too.
Have Confident Body Language
It’s normal to feel anxious at a job interview; any potential employer will know that. But if those pre-interview nerves get the better of you, it can give your interviewer the impression that you’re uncomfortable and make it harder for you to answer the interview questions.
Displaying confidence, even if you’re not confident, doesn’t just give the interviewer a good impression; it also helps you feel more confident. There’s some truth to “fake it ‘till you make it.”
To have confident body language, make an effort to:
- Make eye contact with the hiring manager.
- Stand or sit up straight. Don’t slouch, cross your arms, or seem like you’re trying to shrink.
- Keep your hands visible. If you’re interviewing at a table or desk, put your hands on the desk. This also has the benefit of steadying shaky hands.
- Speak clearly and confidently. Watch your pitch, and talk at a normal speed.
- Take a few deep breaths if you feel too nervous about maintaining your body language.
Keep it in Perspective
It’s easy to succumb to a spiral of negative thoughts about your interview, whether you worry about “answering wrong,” struggle with impostor syndrome, or feel like you’ll never be able to get a job. However, a job interview isn’t about judging you personally or nitpicking your every comment or action. It’s about seeing whether you and the company are a good fit for each other.
Nor does being rejected after an interview mean you said or did something wrong. Companies can turn down highly qualified candidates for a wide variety of reasons, very few of which have to do with the candidate specifically. It’s also possible to feel like you did terribly during an interview and receive a job offer anyway.
Job interviews are a confusing and complicated process, but they get easier with practice. Remember, too, that you don’t need to worry about interviewing perfectly for the job. One employer’s perfect job candidate might be the opposite of another employer’s ideal candidate.
Prepare for Interviews with Help from JobsFuel
Any part of the job application process is stressful, but job interviews are especially so. If you’re worried about having a successful interview or just don’t know where to start, JobsFuel’s blog has plenty of information about the job application process, including how to prepare for job interviews.
With plenty of practice, you won’t just be reading interview success stories; you’ll be sharing ones of your own.