How to calm nerves before an interview

Why are interview nerves so hard to conquer? Well, there are many reasons actually, but it’s worth knowing that everyone deals with some level of nervousness before interviews. Although you wouldn’t be able to wipe them out altogether, there are many tried and tested ways to minimise them. Once you’ve learned some techniques that work for you, all it takes is practice. In this article, we’ll give you 7 practical tips to add to your toolbox for when those dreaded interview nerves start kicking in. Then, we’ll let you in on some myths about interviews that may help you to calm down even more.

How to calm interview nerves — 7 practical tips

Do you have an upcoming interview? Or do you just want to be prepared for the next one? These 7 tips are for anyone and everyone looking for practical methods to calm their interview nerves. Some are quick and easy fixes, while others require a bit more practice and thought. Either way, there’s bound to be a tip here to help you find your Zen before an interview.

Tip 1: Putting it into perspective

Sometimes we get caught up in thinking we’re the only ones experiencing interview nerves. As soon as they kick in, think about the millions of other people having an interview right now. Besides, recruiters and hiring managers are trained to recognise and look past interview nerves, so we can assure you that it’s not as big of a deal as it seems. That doesn’t mean interviews aren’t important, but by putting them in perspective, you can significantly decrease your nervousness before an interview.

Tip 2: Effective preparation and research

Imagine entering a dark forest without a torch and expecting to come out the other side without a scratch. Similarly, you can’t assume you’ll navigate your way through questions and answers unprepared without tripping over your own feet. It’s a sure-fire way to experience maximum interview nerves. Knowing how to prepare for an interview is a very effective way to calm nerves before an interview. Part of your preparation should include going over your CV and cover letter before the interview.

Tip 3: Arriving early

Rushing to a job interview can multiply those interview nerves a few hundred times, and can throw all that preparation out the window in an instant. Being out of breath and sweaty as you greet your hiring manager doesn’t come across as very professional either. Arriving early allows you to get used to the new environment, go over any notes, or listen to some relaxing music. This seems like a pretty straightforward way to reduce nervousness before an interview, but you’d be surprised how many people run into this issue.

Tip 4: Breathing techniques

Shortness of breath is a classic symptom of stress. Our brains are wired to react to fearful situations with a fight or flight response. Our heart works harder to pump blood to the organs, which readies the muscles for action. But we’re not talking about having to wrestle a bear or jumping out of a plane here, so they don’t help us prepare for an interview. To calm those interview nerves, try closing your eyes and taking three long, deep breaths. You’ll feel your heart slowing down, and your muscles beginning to relax. If you’re wondering how to relax before an interview, then this is a quick and easy solution.

Tip 5: Positive self-talk

We sometimes dig ourselves a bottomless pit of self-doubt, which can feel like an endless rollercoaster of doom. However, introducing positive energy into our mind can help to slow down those interview nerves kicking in. Repeating some affirmative statements like ‘I am capable and ready to take on new challenges’ or ‘the outcome of the interview doesn’t determine my worth’ are great to improve confidence. Although it may not have an instant effect, practising positive self-talk in the weeks or days leading up to your job interview is effective. When you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to reflect it in the job interview.

Tip 6: Exercise and proper sleep

Restlessness can really kick those interview nerves into the next gear. Like breathing exercises, proper sleep and exercise can eliminate unnecessary stress and fatigue. As difficult as this may be to some, it should be at the top of the priority list. Expecting your car to take you across the country with only half a tank of gas is wishful thinking. Similarly, running low on energy can have you sputtering towards the end of the interview, and affects your body language. Getting proper exercise and sleep is a tried and tested way to reduce nervousness before an interview.

Tip 7: Do your best and leave the rest

It sounds cliché, but it’s one of the best pieces of advice you’ll get. If you’ve done your research, and followed all the previous tips, all that’s left to do is to give it your best shot. Simply believing that you’ve done all you can is enough to stamp out some of those interview nerves. There’s only so much you can do, right? Even if it doesn’t go your way, it’ll be an opportunity to learn and do better next time. So go out there and show ‘em what you got!

Find your next job

Want to stay up to date on the latest vacancies? Create an account. Apply easily to jobs, save vacancies and set up email alerts all in one place.

Top 5 interview nerves myths vs. reality

You might get nervous before an interview because it’s not something you do regularly. As a result, you could build up irrational fears that end up controlling how you feel, act, and perform. Many of these fears are myths, no matter how much they appear to be true. By understanding how these fears compare to the reality, we can get a grip on our emotions and calm our nerves before an interview. So here are a few common myths as to why you could be experiencing interview nerves, and how they compare to the reality:

Myth #1: You’re not in control

No matter what you do, you feel like you don’t have much influence on the outcome. At the end of the day, the hiring manager has all the power to do, ask, and say what they want; they’re the ones in control of the interview.

Reality: Interview nerves crop up because you feel the pressure is on your side of the table. But when carried out correctly, interviews are conversations. The hiring manager is just as reliant on you as you are on them to have a successful interview. Besides, they’re completely in the dark about what kind of person you are, so the pressure is on them to figure it out. They also need to put in some work to convince you to choose them. When you treat the interview like a conversation, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to influence how and where it goes.

Myth #2: The most qualified candidate gets the job

The employer already has the ‘perfect’ candidate in mind. You fear that everything you say will be held against you, and that the hiring manager will judge you negatively if you don’t have all the required qualifications.

Reality: Competing for a position requiring certain qualifications is intimidating. But just because candidates are qualified for the job doesn’t mean they fit the company culture. Whatever it may be, you are capable of outshining even the most qualified candidate if you can show your eagerness to learn. Understanding this is your ticket to calming those pre-interview nerves.

Myth #3: Mistakes guarantee failure

An interview should go perfectly to guarantee getting hired. You feel that the smallest mistake will ruin your chances of success. You also fear that the hiring manager will pick out your flaws to use as ammunition against you.

Reality: The fear of making mistakes isn’t only common in interviews, but in every aspect of life. The reality is: everyone makes them. Unless the hiring manager is a robot, they’ll understand that you’re not perfect, and won’t hold it against you. The sooner you accept that mistakes are part of life, the sooner you can suppress those interview nerves before they reveal themselves.

Myth #4: The more, the better

Without telling your life story, you feel that the hiring manager will not understand what you have to offer. You feel like you need to cover all the bases to paint a complete picture of your personality, background, and experience.

Reality: Hiring managers aren’t therapists. Just because you have a lot to say, doesn’t mean it’s valuable for the job. Address the questions entirely, of course, but don’t go through all your experiences and tell them how each of them relates to it. When you release some of the pressure of needing to cover all the bases, it’s a great way to minimise nervousness before an interview.

Myth #5: There are only correct answers

To guarantee success, you need to answer questions with only what you think your interviewer wants to hear. You see the interview as an exam; the more answers you get correct, the better your final grade will be.

Reality: This mindset can really get you nervous about a job interview. The reality is that the interviewer is expecting a unique answer that is different from other candidates. The answer you give isn’t going to be checked off as being right or wrong; rather, it’s a way for the interviewer to find out how you think and work. Don’t be fooled by this fear!

Ready to apply?

We have tons of jobs up for grabs. Check out our vacancies to find your ideal role and start applying today.

Interview nerves: in short

Interview nerves can be a real mood-killer. But with the right tools to deal with them, you can minimise their effect. In this article, we’ve outlined 7 practical tips to help you relax. We’ve also broken down some myths about interviews that have hopefully put your mind at ease. Here are our tops tips as bite-sized summaries:

  • Putting it into perspective: You’re not the only one dealing with nervousness before an interview. If it doesn’t go your way, there are plenty of alternatives out there for you to try again.
  • Effective preparation and research: Do your research and come prepared for success. Don’t risk stumbling through the interview and hoping to get out unscathed.
  • Arriving early: Arriving on time allows you to get used to the new environment, go over your notes, or listen to some relaxing music.
  • Breathing techniques: Battling your physical stress with breathing exercises can relieve your mental stress as well.
  • Positive self-talk: When you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to reflect this in the job interview.
  • Exercise and proper sleep: Compensating for lack of energy with a can of Redbull isn’t going to cut it; get exercise and full night’s sleep to naturally calm your nerves.
  • Do your best and leave the rest: Simply believing that you’ve done all you can is enough to stamp out some of those interview nerves.

Worried you won't be able to calm your interview nerves? Or did they already get in the way of landing a job? Don't worry, there are plenty of other vacancies out there. Practice makes perfect, so use it as a learning moment for your next interview. Need more interview tips to help you get prepared? Click through to find a bunch of useful information that will help you to ace your next interview. Or is your CV ready for an overhaul? Use our free CV maker to give it a fresh new look.

FAQs about interview nerves

  • Will interview nerves ever go away?

  • Rarely. Even the most seasoned professionals experience some form of nervousness. However, it is possible to use them to your advantage. For example, professional athletes use the energy they get from feeling nervous to perform better. If you apply the interview nerves tips and tricks in this article, you’re well on your way to having them work for you.

  • Why do I get so nervous before interviews?

  • There are many reasons why you could be experiencing nervousness before interviews. You could get nervous about meeting an interviewer for the first time, being assessed on your behaviour and appearance, and answering interview questions correctly, just to name a few. However, it’s completely normal, and everyone experiences some form of interview nerves.

Explore other job application tips