Interview Nerves and How To Overcome Them

Joe McDermott | Interview Advice

interview nervesFeelings of nervousness are part of the physiological reaction known as the “fight or flight response” to an unfamiliar or potentially difficult situation.

So do you fight or flight when it comes to the interview?

It is not appropriate of course to fight or take flight in an interview situation but the heightened energy levels enable us to focus better and respond more positively to questioning. It is as well to recognise this situation and be able to turn it to your advantage and exploit it rather than fear it.

A little nervousness can actually help

A key point to remember is that a certain amount of nervous energy is a positive thing. It will make you appear interested and enthusiastic keen to take on the role. In my experience a candidate who appears too laid back, too calm could be seen as apathetic and perhaps not really interested in the job.

The next section contains some great tips to help you overcome interview nerves allowing you to perform effectively and confidently at your interview.

How to overcome interview nerves

Proper Preparation

It is facing the unknown that instils anxiety. If we are about to be thrust in front of many strangers to deliver a speech we should likely feel more trepidation than if we had to give that same speech in front of a group of friends. We know subconsciously that we can expect a favourable and forgiving response from friends, but with strangers we cannot tell what the result might be. Thus a scenario about which we have prior knowledge or is familiar is easier to deal with.

With adequate preparation you can turn your interview from an unfamiliar to a more familiar one, and thus reduce your anxiety levels significantly.

Preparation involves researching the company, the job itself, and the people with whom you may be working. A lot of information about various companies can be uncovered on the internet and it is worth spending some time to find out about a company in respect of its place in the market, what its policies are and what aims it has for the future.

Being prepared also involves practicing for the interview, and the kinds of questions you might be asked. You should prepare answers to all the common interview questions and also any specifically related to the actual job you would be doing.  You can spend some useful time rehearsing your answers out loud, to a friend, or even perhaps to video, to check your speech and delivery.

Practice with a webcam using the InterviewGold online training system »

Use Body Language

At interview you want to come across as confident so you should stand or sit straight without slouching, and of course smile. These combined will then give the message that you are unfazed because your subconscious has received the message that there is no need for anxiety you will actually start to feel much more relaxed.

Positive Mental Messaging

The power of the mind is quite considerable and it really helps to think positively before an interview and to reaffirm your self-belief. Do not allow yourself to dwell on doubts about your ability to do the job or to get through the interview.

You know in your heart that you are qualified and can do the job, otherwise you would not have got this far in the selection process. You have prepared for the interview and it is simply a hurdle to jump. You can tell yourself that you’re as good as, if not better than, most other candidates, and that even if you don’t get the job there are plenty more out there.

A simple affirmation or silent mantra such as “I can do this job and do it well” repeated to yourself coming up to interview is surprisingly effective at blocking negative thoughts and doubts.

Deep Breathing for relaxation

Breathing exercises are often used by athletes or performers before an event, and they do help, not only to focus the mind, but also to get more oxygen into the body and give you a slight physiological lift. A simple exercise regime is as follows:

Place one hand on your stomach just above the belt, and the other on your chest. Then open your mouth and sigh, letting your shoulders and upper body relax. Now, close the mouth and breathe in slowly through the nose, letting your stomach out. After a brief pause, open the mouth and breathe out by pulling in your stomach. Pause again and then repeat the steps for a few minutes to feel both relaxed and energised at the same time.

So next time you are waiting to go into the interview room, why not practice these simple steps and you will feel calm and confident, ready to take on the challenge and win.