Sometimes, no amount of preparation feels like it’s enough to deal with the nerve-racking ordeal of having to walk in front of a room full of strangers and be judged on the basis of your merits against a bevy of your peers.
It’s safe to say that there isn’t a soul out there that doesn’t feel the jitters before a crucial job interview.
There aren’t many situations quite like it, after all—it’s your one shot to give the best account of yourself. And it might not ever come again.
So much is at stake riding on your performance—and the pressure is real, especially when you’re eyeing your dream job or employer. There are many things about a job interview that can make you feel anxious, such as not answering questions the “right” way, not being calm, not wearing the appropriate attire or the fear of not progressing to the next stage. The list goes on.
Therefore, it’s perfectly normal to feel a little nervous or even stressed about an upcoming job interview. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Anxiety can actually inspire you to get organized, prepared, and stay focused and calm during the hiring process. But at the same time, anxiety can keep you from being at your best if you let it distract you.
Sometimes, the difference between a successful interview and one that isn’t can be chalked up to anxiety.
Nevertheless, job interview feedback is straightforward and judged only based on whether you get the job or don’t.
And it doesn’t matter how qualified you are or how much of a fit you think you are. You can have all the talent and every fancy certification out there to prove your expertise in the field, but if you can’t control your nerves when they matter the most—during the interview—then another more confident candidate with a less impressive background might just beat you to your dream job.
Since staying cool, calm, and collected is crucial to your success, here are some of the ways you can control your anxiety before that crunch dream job interview, as well as concrete steps to make sure you’re calm on the day itself.
Don’t Forget that You’re Dealing with Human Beings
You can’t let your desire to work for your dream employer cloud your perspective. At the end of the day, no matter what job you’re trying to snag, it’s crucial to remind yourself that the interviewers you’ll be dealing with aren’t just robots trained in the art of saying “no,” but rather human beings just like you. They’re no different from who you are fundamentally as a person. So there’s no need to put your dream employer and their people up on a pedestal. Just like you, they’re also under a good deal of pressure to find the best person for the job.
As trite as it sounds, the interview is just as critical to the recruiter as it is to you. We’re all only human. Next time you feel the nerves (and the dry heaves) coming up, remind yourself of that. It’s a sobering thought that can help you overcome any anxiety.
Don’t Worry About the Things You Can’t Control (and Focus On the Things You Can)
There’s no way you can have 100% control over your destiny during a job interview—because the decision of getting hired or not isn’t your decision to make. You can do as much research about a company as you wish, you can practice your power poses as much as you want, and you can pick your lucky outfit and get it immaculately ready days before the interview… but you can only control so much.
Let’s face the facts: no amount of preparation will ever guarantee you ace all the questions because recruiters will always introduce a curveball or two to throw you off your game and force you to go off-script and stay honest.
You will encounter tricky situations over the course of an interview—all you can do is remind yourself that you’re doing your best and make the best of the situation even when things get a little tricky. That’s all you can possibly ask for, even when the stakes are at their highest. Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing—and you’ll agree that you can leverage it to your benefit by preparing to the best of your abilities. Focus on what you can control and stop worrying about the things you can’t. That includes the constant mental gymnastics of worrying about how you performed.
Tips to Calm Yourself Down For the Big Day
That said, here are some helpful ways to cope with anxiety on the day of the interview itself. At this point, you’ve already done all the necessary preparation you possibly can, you have the right mindset going in, and you aren’t hung up on the anxiety.
All that remains is to stick to your game plan. These tips will help you stay centered—so you have the best chance of knocking that interview out of the park:
Consider performing some deep breathing exercises first thing in the morning during the day of the interview to help you concentrate on the goal and start the day productively.
Don’t rush through your interview
Haste makes waste; nothing worsens anxiety and stress than rushing yourself. You have time to work with—use it wisely to prepare.
Stop the mental gymnastics (after a certain point)
Replaying potential scenarios, questions, or answers won’t do you any favors after a certain point. Try something to clear your mind, such as listening to your favorite music. You’ve already done the heavy lifting by preparing for the interview; all that remains now is for you to execute.
Speak clearly and slow down your speaking pace
One of the most egregious indicators of anxiety is your tone and cadence when you speak. Speeding through your sentences is an indicator of nervousness. Remember to speak clearly, stay on point and target, and let the interview flow like a normal conversation.
Remember to listen intently
Active listening is a key to remaining cool and calm, considering how dynamic the interview process can be. It’s good to focus on preparing great answers to your potential employer’s questions, but it’s important to stay focused even when you aren’t answering a question. Your interviewer will pick up on whether you are listening or not—particularly when it’s obvious that your scripted answers don’t answer the question your interviewer is asking.
Dress for comfort and success
Confidence can shine through with how you present yourself, and dressing for success (while keeping comfort in mind) can help you get into the mindset to succeed. Just don’t wear anything you won’t feel comfortable and confident in.
No matter what happens, stay cool. Don’t let circumstances or a single interview boo-boo shake you from doing your best. Sometimes, a short memory is what you need—focus on handling the next questions to the best of your ability, stay composed and on-topic, and end the meeting on a positive note.
Well done! There’s nothing more you can ask for.