How to handle interview nerves

How to handle interview nerves

Interview nerves

For the majority of us, that initial excitement of getting a job interview is short-lived because when the time comes the nerves start kick in, you start to panic and you start to think stupid thoughts.  Here are some tips for reducing the potential future nerves getting the better of you and how to handle them.

Before your interview

Do your research and practice

Nerves feed off fear, and in an interview fear is related to being asked something you weren’t prepared. Research the company and practise talking through your experience over and over again either with your partner, dog or reflection. If you understand the company and can comfortably talk through your career, skills and experience, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed and the nerves won’t get the better of you.

While you may still encounter some surprising questions, anticipating those sorts of questions that you may face will be a big help and working with an experienced recruiter to do this could be useful Feeling prepared should help stave off the majority of nerves, and make the whole experience a lot less stressful.

Ask yourself the tough questions

A key part of your preparation should be to focus on the worst things you could be asked during the interview. The best frame of mind to deal with such questions is to prepare by asking yourself what is the best thing you can say to that question. This ensures you have your own self-empowering positive agenda that can help you capitalise on the situation and feel good about tough questions that they may throw at you.

Just imagine how you feel when you’re at your best, what do you say?  How do you stand? What do you believe about yourself?  What tone of voice do you use?  Now, practice being this person in the mirror and take yourself into the interview with you. It may sound ridiculous but it does work!

Exercise, sleep, hydrate

While turning up to an interview hot and sweaty is not ideal, by taking regular exercise in the lead up before nerve inducing situations can be really helpful. It promotes oxygenation of the blood, boosts endorphins and promotes a good night’s sleep.

It might sound obvious, but sleep is important too. By staying up late and ‘preparing’ for the following day is not a good use of your time. Get a good, restful sleep and you’ll be far more alert the following day. Be sure to drink plenty of water to promote tip-top performance.

On the day

Don’t be rushed

Plan your travel well ahead of time. Tearing through the train station and trying to navigate your way through an unfamiliar place with minutes to spare is sure to make you anxious and heighten those nerves; it could also impact your performance. You should find where the company is before and time how long it takes to get there and where to park. Building in some time for a 10-minute walk around the block before the interview can help calm the nerves too, as well as mindfulness exercises.

If you are already working, book a day or half-day holiday from your current role just in case, rather than hoping you’ll be able to slip away for an hour or two.

During the interview

Have an icebreaker handy

Remember that the interviewer is a person too and could also feel nervous about running the interview. Prepare your own icebreaker to put both of you at ease. Research the interviewer’s background using tools like LinkedIn and try to find something you have in common or something you can ask them about. Something as simple as ‘I see we both studied business at university – how did we end up in accounts?’ or ‘I saw on your company website that you managed the charity running event, how did it go?’ can set a nice tone for the meeting.


If nerves get the better of you beforehand, try and slow your breathing down. Take slow, deep breathes in through your nose. Breathing in through your chest can aid the tension you feel, particularly in the neck and shoulders. It may sound a bit farfetched but it works.

However, any breathing exercises will go to waste if you rush your answers once you’re in the room, most people don’t realise that good pauses when speaking aren’t even noticed by the person or people you are talking to. Giving yourself time to think will help you avoid a rushed answer and a shaky voice.

Project confidence

Job applicants should sit in a way which makes them look and feel good and which projects confidence, this together with having your feet flat on the floor and keeping your arms apart and hands open – showing that you have nothing to hide – helps you look and feel open and confident. When you get your body in the right position, and lean ever-so-slightly forward to convey enthusiasm, you project confidence to the interviewer and it also sends a message to your brain that you are feeling confident too.

From my personal experience the number one top tip is to do your very best and be your very best self in the interview but understand that you can’t affect the outcome. There are other factors involved in an interview process so try to just focus on your bit!