How To Overcome Interview Nerves - Basic Tips

The best ways to overcome interview nerves. Learn how to stop yourself from panicing during an interview.

Anyone can suffer from interview nerves, from a first time interviewee to a long standing CEO of a major corporation.  The most important thing, however, is how an individual deals with the situation.  Interview nerves can manifest in a number of ways.  You may have a constant feeling of anxiety leading up to the interview, and throughout; or you could be absolutely fine until you step into the room.  It may even be a particular question that sets off your interview nerves; but what ever the case, the result is the same.  You start to sweat, your mouth dries up, and you completely forget everything you were going to say.  Interview nerves, depending on the severity, can greatly impact on your chance of securing a job.  Whilst interviewers are sympathetic to candidates being nervous, they are still expecting you to cover the criteria required for the role; and nerves can greatly impede your ability to convince them that you are the best person for the job.  As a candidate seeking employment, one thing should always be consistent in your approach; and that is preparation.  Interview nerves are no more difficult to deal with than any other aspect of the process; as long as you keep a few secret weapons in your arsenal.

Although interview nerves can effect you at different stages of the interview process, the methods in this article for dealing with them, are universal.  By this time, it is assumed, that you will have prepared yourself for the type of questions you are likely to be asked, have a good understanding of the role, and know the type of interview you are attending; so with that being said, let's look at ways to control your nerves.

Manage Your Breathing

This is your first line of defense, and one that is imperceptible to anyone else who is close by.  Adapt a relaxed position, breath through your nose counting to five seconds, then let the breath out for eight seconds, through your mouth.  This will help you relax, and will also take your mind of the things that are causing you to panic and become anxious.  Often times, during an interview, nerves will creep up on you in between answers while the interviewer is asking a question, so this is an ideal time to employ this method.

Develop a Mantra

Before you even go to the interview, you should have a mantra that you can repeat in your head, whenever you get nervous.  This should be something that inspires confidence in you.  Again, this method will redirect your focus to something other than the anxiety you are feeling.  For example, many parents will repeat the names of their children, or recall a treasured memory, a husband will think of his wife, or a musician may dream about being able to afford that new guitar.  Your mantra should also be used in conjunction with the breathing exercise, for best effect.

Know The Question

A very common issue that candidates encounter during an interview, is forgetting the question.  The worst way to try to overcome this, is by letting your nerves get the better of you, plowing on and hoping that you somehow manage to hit the right note.  If you find yourself in this situation, don't be afraid to ask the interviewer if you have covered the essential criteria of the question.  If you haven't, they will either reiterate the question, or, elaborate on points that they feel you have missed.

Consider the Question

When asked a question, your interview nerves may send you into a panic where you feel it necessary to immediately try to give your answer.  Doing this is the most likely cause of forgetting the question, before you are even half way through the first line of your response.  Stop, consider what it is you are being asked, and then slowly begin to deliver your answer - while always remaining conscious of what the original question was.  You will find that, not only are you able to answer the question, but you are able to add some additional value to your answer.

Forget your Preconceptions

The interviewer does not want you to fail, it is not in their best interests.  The person behind that desk is no different from you, and if you think back to previous jobs - How long did your initial impression of the person that interviewed you last; once you were established in the role?  Whether the interviewer is writing or not, is no indication of how you are performing in the interview.  Having interview nerves does not make you a failure, if anything, it proves that you care about the role you are competing for.

No matter what; when you are suffering from interview nerves, do not allow them to become your main point of focus in the process.  You have done a great job up until this point in order to be prepared for the interview, so make sure you are the one that is in control. 


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Karen Gross
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Posted on Apr 10, 2012
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Posted on Jan 29, 2011