Interview Nerves? How to Calm Yourself Before an Interview

Of course you’ll be nervous–it’s an interview! Accepting that you will be nervous allows you to work on some strategies to help before and during the interview.

The Pen is Mightier… I find that many people are helped by the act of writing. I suspect that it’s the act of writing as well as what you write. What to write? If you are nervous about forgetting something, write down a list of what you need. If you are nervous about certain interview questions, then write out your answers. You won’t deliver them exactly as you write, but you will remember most of what you write. If you are nervous about certain behaviors (talking too fast, giggling, not smiling), then in the corner of a piece of paper write a coded symbol that reminds you to smile, listen, etc.. If you are waiting outside of the interviewer’s office, write a thank-you to the interviewer in advance. Writing that thank-you allow you to focus on the successful outcome of the interview. You will drop off the thank-you as you leave the interview and appear well-organized.

Help someone else. If you need to practice for an interview, find someone else who needs to practice. Use your new partner to practice with and seek opportunities to offer advice. When you realize that your problems are similar and normal, you will relax. Although you may face similar challenges and concerns, you will find it much easier to solve their problems than yours. Along the way you’ll get insights into your own challenges.

Be your own third party. Even if you don’t have a buddy to work with, consider pretending that you do. Take a look at your situation and ask “if I were someone else what would I do?” This technique is particularly powerful if you identify someone you feel handles these situations well. If you know that ‘Bob’ is always good at discussing his career, then imagine how ‘Bob’ might handle a tough interview question.

Find you ‘peaceful place’. Before an interview consider the place you’ve always felt safe and relaxed and happy. Practice seeing yourself in this place. When you get nervous picture yourself again in this place.

Concentrate on a detail around you. Nervous people relax when their attention is diverted, so this is a good waiting room strategy. That’s partly why doctor’s offices have magazines. But you can find an interesting painting to look at, or window to study the clouds outside. Focus on details and try to memorize what you see.

Ask questions. During an interview if you ask questions the interview will become more comfortable for both you and the interviewer. Have a few questions prepared for the interviewer, “How long have you worked here?” Making an interview into a conversation allows you to feel the normal comfortable rhythm of conversation.

Nervousness is normal. Accept that your nerves might help you stay energized. Then, use simple strategies to manage the stress level.

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