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Feeling nervous before a job interview is perfectly normal, especially if you really want the job. While a certain amount of nerves can motivate you to perform well, a bad case of anxiety can ruin your interview performance on the big day.
Even the most confident candidates can lose their cool and end up squirming, rambling, or blanking out. Fortunately, you can learn how to project confidence in an interview and how to answer interview questions confidently with enough preparation.
How to get rid of nerves before a job interview
If you’re wondering how to get rid of nerves before an interview, here are 11 tips to keep the heebie-jeebies at bay.
1. Prepare in every way possible
The best way to get over interview nerves is solid preparation. The more you prepare, the less likely you are to blank when the interviewer throws you a tricky question.
Plus, you’ll feel more confident when you’re prepared, and this confidence will help you stamp out nervous habits and face the interview with a positive mindset.
So how can you prepare effectively? Keep reading for a checklist of what to do before game day.
2. Research your potential employer
Read about the company’s history, mission, products, and latest press releases, and scrutinize the job description. Spend time exploring LinkedIn profiles of the people who will be interviewing you.
Know their positions within the company, previous employers, and interests to see what you have in common. Not only will this internet stalking (I mean, research) show your interest in the role, but it will also give substance to your answers.
Plus, you can use what you learn to prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. Asking thoughtful questions can help you get an edge over other candidates.
3. Come up with answers to common interview questions
If you’re wondering how to answer interview questions confidently, the answer again lies in preparation. Devise snappy responses to predictable interview questions such as “Why do you want to work here?” or “What are your major strengths and weaknesses?”
Pay especially close attention to,
- The question you’re scared of
Formulate responses to questions you fear the most. For example, if you’re worried the interviewer will think you have a lack of professional experience, get ready to talk up your internships, schoolwork, or personal projects. If you have a gap in your resume, prepare an explanation that’s genuine and reflects you in a good light.
- The question that asks for a specific example
Many interviewers ask “behavioral” interview questions, which ask you to come up with a specific example of a time you failed, succeeded, achieved something, solved a problem, or responded to some other situation.
Basically, employers want insight into how you behaved in a scenario in the past to get insight into how you might behave in the future.
While this approach makes sense, it can be really tough to think of specific examples in the moment, especially when you’re dealing with anxiety or are someone who likes time to process your thoughts.
So before you interview, think of specific work examples that could come up, such as a time you thought outside the box, supported a teammate, took initiative, or whatever else you think might be relevant to the job at hand.
By coming up with anecdotes beforehand, you’ll have plenty of examples to draw on when a behavioral interview question inevitably comes up.
And if you totally blank, consider following up later via email to say you’ve come up with a response that better reflects your ability. The manager might appreciate that you’re still considering their questions even after the interview has ended.
- The “creative” curveball question
Some questions are meant to bowl you over and see how you act under pressure. The interviewer might ask you a totally random question like “How many pennies would fit in this room?” or “If you were an app, what would you be?” just to see if you can maintain your calm and come up with creative ideas in the moment. They don’t necessarily need a perfect response; often, they’re just interested to see your reaction.
4. Conduct practice interviews
To stop anxiety ruining your job interview performance, ask a friend or family member to mock interview you. Along with helping you practice, they can give feedback on your answers and mannerisms.
For instance, you may use a lot of informal words like “sure, kind of, or cool” or avoid eye contact while you’re talking. If you’re not able to do the mock interview with someone else, rehearse your answers in front of a mirror, and be mindful of your body language, facial expressions, and pace.
A word of caution: While practicing and rehearsing beforehand will help blast nerves, you also don’t want to memorize your responses and come across as robotic in the interview. Prepare thoroughly, but still leave space for spontaneous conversation.
5. Lay out your outfit and plan your route the night before
Apart from researching and practicing, part of your preparation should also involve picking out your outfit beforehand (even if it’s just a Skype call) and packing the essentials in your bag (e.g., a copy of your resume, references, certifications, compact mirror, floss, etc.).
Plan your travel route the night before, and check the traffic reports. Give yourself enough time to get there; nothing will put knots in your stomach like arriving late to a job interview.
6. Visualize yourself rocking the interview
Raise your confidence and minimize anxiety by visualizing the interview going well. Think about the strong positive emotions you’ll feel knowing you made a lasting impression on the interviewer.
When you focus on positive outcomes, instead of fixating on worst case scenarios, you train your mind to behave in an optimistic manner. You’ll feel more confident and improve your chance of performing well.
7. Think of the interview as a two-way street
Don’t think of the interview as an interrogation, but rather as a conversation between two people to determine whether both are compatible working together. Sure, the interviewer might be evaluating you; but you’re also evaluating them to see if the job is right.
In the end, this interview is as much for you as it is for them. By remembering you have a say in this situation (and that you’re an asset and the company would be lucky to have you), you can calm your job interview nerves.
8. Get in the right headspace
Lift your spirit and confidence by giving yourself a quick pep talk right before the interview. Repeat phrases like, “I’ve got this, I’m going to crush it, I’m the best person for this job” in your mind or aloud with full confidence, and watch your adrenaline slow down as you enter the meeting.
Take deep breaths, and practice a “power pose” to boost confidence before the interview. Smiling could also help you calm down and feel more confident.
9. Plan to treat yourself after the interview
No matter how the interview goes, reward yourself for going through with it. Plan a fun activity for after your meeting, like getting a massage or watching your favorite movie. If you know you’ll be rewarded with something awesome at the end of the day, things might feel less stressful during the interview.
10. Avoid over-caffeinating and eat a balanced meal that morning
Nervousness isn’t just a mental state; it’s a physiological one, too. So help put your body at ease by eating a healthy breakfast and staying hydrated. And avoid over-caffeinating, as caffeine will just make you feel more nervous and jumpy. Eating and drinking right is paramount when you want to keep jitters at bay.
11. Remember there are more fish in the sea
As tempting as any job might be, remember there are always more openings out there. Your future doesn’t depend on landing this specific job. You’ve navigated big job search moments in the past, and you’ll continue doing so in the future.
If you don’t make it through to the next stage, congratulate yourself for making it this far and not letting your anxiety stop you. Don’t dwell on what went wrong, but instead treat it as a learning experience for the next interview.
Bonus hacks on how to get rid of nerves before an interview
Here are a few final hacks on how to get rid of nerves before an interview and project confidence.
- Do something that pumps you up, like listening to music or a motivational speech or TedTalk.
- Find someone or something that makes you laugh. Visit your funniest friend or watch stand-up before you head out.
- Get your heart pumping. Going for a walk, practicing yoga or stretching can relieve stress and release endorphins.
- Practice breathing exercises to calm down your nervous system.
Job interviews are almost always nerve-wracking — it’s not just you.
But being proactive and finding strategies to deal with your nerves will help you stay cool, calm, and collected. And remember, nothing will ease your mind and help you ace your job interview quite like solid preparation.