17 Smart Ways to Combat Interview Nerves

Nervous candidate in job interview while hiring managers looks at document

Nerves – they can get the best of us! Especially in highly stressful situations like job interviews.

No matter how much you prepped and practised, when you’re sat in the hot seat, you can quickly forget all that you learnt and know – and turn into a hot pile of mess.

If you really want to succeed, it’s only natural that you’ll experience some degree of anxiety and second guess everything, from your choice of outfit and hairstyle, all the way to the answers you’ve rehearsed for the most common interview questions.

In order to avoid everything from sweaty palms and a shaking voice to a flushed face and a dry mouth, we’ve put together this collection of tips to help you avoid letting the nerves get the better of you – and nail that interview you’ve been waiting for in the process.

Here’s how to combat interview nerves.

1. Prep Like a Boss

If you haven’t gone over common questions likely to come up in the interview, now would be a good time to do so. Find out everything you can about your potential employer and plan accordingly – you just never know what kind of curveball question the hiring manager will throw your way, and it’s essential that you prepare an answer that best showcase your professional skills. Make sure you know your CV like the back of your hand, too!

2. Write Down Your Thoughts

Writing down your thoughts is a great technique that will help you rationalise and eventually reduce your anxiety. For example, say you’re thinking that you’re not good enough; you can counter this thought with a list of reasons why you’re skilled and qualified for the role.

3. Don’t Forget to Smile

As you may have heard a thousand times before, smiling in an interview can help you feel more confident, and it also makes you appear more approachable and more positive. And if you’re not feeling quite sure of yourself, why not fake it till you make it?

4. Exercise

Exercising or even going for a swift walk before your interview can help release endorphins and get rid of some of the adrenaline in your body. It will also help you feel more confident and positive about yourself. If you don’t have time to exercise on the morning of your big day, don’t worry: a quick workout the night before will still give you the same added benefits.

5. Don’t Interview on an Empty Stomach

There’s nothing more awkward than sitting in an interview trying to distract the hiring manager from your grumbling belly. In other words, make sure you fuel up with some energy-sourced superfoods so you’re on your A-game. Yoghurt with a handful of nuts and honey is a good choice – it’s not too heavy, and the creamy goodness is a good source of lysine which is good for the brain and heart.

6. Get a Pep Talk from a Friend

Do you have a special someone that you turn to in times of need? Someone that will tell you how ‘completely ridiculous’ you’re being and who is great at boosting your mood and confidence in no time? If you’re lucky enough to answer ‘yes’, be sure to speak to them before your interview!

7. Create a Cheat Sheet

Is there anything that may slip your mind – perhaps something particularly important that will help you impress the hiring manager? If so, consider creating a cheat sheet that who can whack out and read over right before your interview. This will help you get pumped up and ready to go, knowing you have all the facts.

8. Listen to Uplifting Music

And I mean uplifting, not your favourite Adele tear-jerking ballad – the last thing you want is to turn up to your interview totally depressed with puffy eyes. Instead, opt for a party banger like Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World’ – anything that will lift your mood and make you feel unstoppable.

9. Don’t Forget You’re Interviewing Them, Too

A good thing to remember is that an interview is a two-way street – in other words, you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. So, ask questions where relevant to find out if the company and overall culture is a good match. Remember: it may be your dream job on paper, but that doesn’t mean the company will tie in with your idea of the ideal workplace.

10. Believe in Yourself

You got this far because the hiring manager liked something about your application and thinks you could be a good match for the position. So, instead of doubting yourself, have a little faith in yourself. You’ve got this and that job can easily be yours.

11. Dress for Success

Half of the battle of an interview is about how you come across to a potential employer, and the initial judgement will be on how you’re dressed and your overall presentation. And when you dress the part, you’ll instantly feel a lot more confident and more in control. That being said, make sure your choice of outfit is practical – you don’t want to be tripping up through the corridor because your heels are too high!

12. Breathe

When it’s all getting a bit too much and you’re struggling to keep your head above water, remind yourself to take a second and just breathe! Inhaling deeply through your nose and out through your mouth will relax your brain and will stop you from going into ‘defence mode’ which sends your heart rate running 100mph.

13. Be Open about Your Nerves

If you really can’t seem to deal with your nerves and it’s pretty obvious that you’re a nervous wreck, you can openly admit that you’re nervous. It will show that you’re human and it will make you more relatable, while you’ll most likely end up feeling more comfortable and will be able to carry on with showing you’re the perfect candidate for the role.

14. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

This goes without saying, but you should allow yourself plenty of time to get to the interview location, as you never know what might happen – your bus could be late or you could get stuck in traffic for a good half an hour. Even if you end up arriving a lot earlier than your agreed interview time, use the extra time to read through your notes in your car or a nearby coffee shop. Either way, be sure you to arrive at least 10 minutes before your interview and to test the route beforehand!

15. Mind Your Body Language

Paying attention to your body language is extremely important when you’re in such a high-pressure environment. Remember: what you don’t say won’t necessarily harm your chances of landing the job but how you act can. In other words, make sure you offer a firm handshake, sit up straight, make the right amount of eye contact and keep your hands on the table to show that you’re in control.

16. Stop the Shakes

Sometimes the shakes are impossible to curve. Even if you’ve managed to stabilise your voice, your hands often have a mind of their own, which can be extremely embarrassing if you’re extending a shaky hand out to your potential employer. A trick of the trade is to clench your thighs and buttocks together, which automatically puts those uncomfortable shakes to an end.

17. Don’t Forget There Are More Fish in the Sea

If you really have screwed up, don’t dwell on it and move on from it. Remember: it isn’t the last job in the world and you’ll have plenty more opportunities to prove your worth and find the perfect job. Just treat it as a learning curve for the next one.

By applying these ways to overcome your nerves and using some practised meditation techniques, you should be able to calm your nerves once and for all! And remember: sometimes things just aren’t meant to be – so if you did flunk the interview, it was probably for the best!

Do you have any other tips for dealing with interview nerves? Join the conversation down below and let us know how to beat the stress!