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How to overcome interview nerves

Tim Gouw 79563 Unsplash

Stephen Brown Job Searching, job interviews

“She was nervous to start with but got better once she settled in”.

This is the first impression on an interviewee and a quote I have heard many times during 20 years in recruitment.

Going for an interview can be nerve-wracking for many reasons, if it’s the job you really want or you have a lot riding on the outcome then it is expected that you will be nervous.

You do not however need to come across as nervous and being confident will instil the confidence in your interviewer that you are a capable candidate for the job.

Having researched and observed a variety of techniques to overcome interview nerves, here are a few we have seen work the best.

Preparation is critical: Watch our short video

Overcoming interview nerves well before the interview and the better prepared you are, the greater confidence you will have when it matters most. Things you can prepare for include:

1. Understanding the job role and how you can help the company

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses

3. Know where you realistically want to be in five years’ time

Remember to write these answers down in a small notebook to take with you into the interview. Also: take a pen that works!

An interview is a two-way process, so be prepared to ask insightful questions, write these down in your notebook so you have them with you. We have compiled a list of 101 of the best questions to ask at your interview which you can access here.

Demonstrate your preparation, take a copy of your CV and research you have done on the company such as print outs from their website, industry reports, competitor data, etc. Make sure it is neatly packaged in a document wallet.

Know where you are going, make sure you have their address, a location map and if possible do a dry run so you know exactly how to get there and what to expect upon arrival.

On interview day, rise earlier than usual and do some exercise to take away some of the nervous energy that is likely to be building up. Shower, dress appropriately and if travelling by car make sure it is clean and tidy.

Arrive 30 minutes early but park around the corner, read your notes, review your CV and speak aloud on points that you would like to practice getting across.

Expel nerves through breathing, breathe in through your nose as if smelling a nose, hold your breath for five seconds then exhale through your mouth as if you are blowing out a candle – repeat this several times until you feel calmer.

A sure sign of nerves is sweaty palms, so try and wash your hands in cool water before meeting your interviewer.

If you sit in reception to await your interviewer, keep a good straight relaxed posture and make light conversation with the reception staff. This will not only take your mind off the interview, but also show staff you are a pleasant and sociable person.

Make sure your right hand is free to shake hands with so be careful juggling document wallets, bags and drinks.

If offered a drink accept one, even if you don’t usually have one. Nerves create a dry throat and you will need to be ready to talk. It is also a great idea to have a bottle of water with you on your journey.

Remain composed, sit with hands in lap but avoid clasping together and wringing them as this will make them sweaty again.

Wear appropriate but comfortable clothing and put yourself at ease.

If you do get nervous then do not draw attention to it, keep smiling and make good eye contact with your interviewer.

For further interview tips and guidance, download our preparation for interview success document.