While feeling nervous before a job interview is perfectly normal, it’s not something you want to showcase.
In a job interview, you want to come across as confident, capable, and ready to hit the ground running. Showing your anxiety detracts from the strong, positive impression you want to make. Even further, your jitters can quickly spread to your interviewer, making it difficult for him or her to focus on you and your responses.
If you remain calm and collected during an interview, you’ll project an air of confidence that is attractive to employers, says Carmela Tersigni, CPA, CA, Associate Director – Permanent Search at The Mason Group.
“You’ll give solid, thoughtful answers and ask the right questions to those you meet. By keeping your cool during the interview, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you’d remain calm when stressful situations arise in the course of your work, and that will give you an edge on the other candidates.”
So, what else can you do to minimize your anxiety and appear confident and calm during a job interview? Here are eight tips we know can help.
1. Do Your Research
The best thing you can do to boost your confidence ahead of an interview is to know that you’re well prepared in every way possible.
Dedicate some time to thorough research before you step foot into that interview room. Look into the company, their mission and value statements, their products, their competitors, and their industry as a whole. Think about how the position you are interviewing for can contribute to the overall company mission and objectives.
Spend some time using LinkedIn to find out more about the people who will actually be interviewing you and write down some questions for them. Bottom line, the more homework you can do ahead of time, the more confident you’ll feel during an interview—and confidence puts you in command.
2. Plan Ahead
Another tip to make the day of your interview as stress-free as possible is to ensure that everything you need is set and ready to go for you ahead of time. The fewer details you have to worry about on the day of the interview, the better.
Print out extra copies of your resume the day before. Lay out your outfit and do any washing or pressing that’s needed ahead of time too. Make sure that you know how to get to the interview location, and allow plenty of time to get there in case of traffic or flight delays.
A heavy meal can make you tired, so make sure to eat something light before an interview and skip the caffeine—it’ll only make you more jittery.
They say that practice makes perfect, and that same sentiment holds true for interviews. The more you rehearse, the more skilled and confident you’ll become.
“Practice answers to anticipated questions out loud—either by yourself or with someone who will give you honest feedback. Practice by writing down the three to five things you want the interviewer to know about you before the interview ends so you can tailor your answers appropriately,” suggests Tersigni.
As odd as it might feel, it’s also smart to practice in front of a mirror so you can correct any facial expression or body language faux pas—such as slouching or fidgeting. Remember, oftentimes your nonverbal cues say even more than your words.
4. Visualize the Interview
Taking a few moments to visualize a successful interview can also help to calm your anxiety. Picture yourself sitting in the interview room providing clear and smart answers and impressing your interviewer with your positivity, your confidence and your knowledge of the company.
Remind yourself that the recruiter or the hiring manager liked your resume and asked you to come in for an interview because they think you might be a great fit. Next, think about your skills and accomplishments and remind yourself why you are the right person for the job.
Visualization is a simple exercise that can help you to collect your thoughts, think through possible scenarios, and give your confidence an effective boost.
5. Slow Down and Breathe
When you feel nervous, your breathing becomes shallower. To calm yourself down, try taking a few deep breaths.
Breathe in for a count of four, hold that breath for two, and then exhale for another four. Do that for a few minutes until you feel a little calmer. If breathing exercises are helpful for you, CalmClinic offers several more you can try.
Your body also has a tendency to speed things up when you’re stressed—including your heart rate and your speech patterns. Be conscious of how fast you’re speaking and don’t hesitate to pause and collect your thoughts if a question catches you off guard. It’s better to take the time to think your response through to reply with something adequate, rather than rushing in with a poor answer.
6. Redirect Questions
Every now and then, your interviewer might throw out a tough question just to see how you’ll react in a stressful situation. Don’t let that tricky question catch you off guard.
Instead, make your best attempt to gracefully redirect it toward a similar topic that you’re far more familiar with—all the while highlighting your strengths and qualifications.
After that, move on and focus on answering the remainder of the questions well and ending the interview on a positive note. Continuing to think about that one tricky question will only undermine your confidence and give the interview a negative tone.
7. Change Your Perspective
An interview presents a nerve-wracking atmosphere. But shifting the way you think about that meeting can help to negate a lot of those anxious feelings you have.
At its core, an interview is really just a conversation between two people who are trying to find out more about each other. View the exchange through that lens, and you’re bound to feel far more positive and self-assured walking into the interview.
8. Remind Yourself That There Are Other Jobs Out There
It’s natural to put a lot of pressure on yourself before a job interview. You want to knock things out of the park and land that role. However, if the stakes are too high, you’ll only become more nervous.
Remind yourself that—while you’d love to secure an offer for this job—there are other ones out there if this interview doesn’t pan out. Taking some of the pressure off yourself will be a huge help in feeling more confident and at ease.