Anxiety affects people in many ways. Naturally, there is a lot on your mind as you prepare for an interview - have you prepared for the right questions? What will the interviewer(s) think of you? Will you be successful? Learning how to manage anxiety might seem like a challenging task, however, there are a number of practical tips and techniques you can use to help calm your nerves.
We have outlined these steps below and we’ve seen first-hand how many candidates we work with benefit from leaning on these pointers before and during interviews. With a little preparation and a few tricks up your sleeve, you'll be able to reduce your nerves and give yourself the best chance of landing the job.
What are the reasons why we typically feel nervous?
It’s important to understand why you might feel nervous approaching an interview. Having this knowledge allows you to better control these feelings and learn how to combat them at the right moments. Firstly, it’s crucial to recognise that feeling nervous is completely natural. Nervousness signals both the feeling of excitement and anticipation of the unknown outcome.
A common cause of stress is that an interview can feel out of our control. While this may be the case for the final decision, there are a number of methods you can use to ensure that your performance and delivery are under your control.
Another common cause of stress is the uncertainty of what questions will be asked and how you might be judged based on your answers. Similarly, using some of the steps in this article will enable you to minimise this anxiety.
Prepare as much as possible
One of the best ways to reduce your nerves is to prepare as much as possible. This means knowing what to expect and making sure you are well-informed about the company you're interviewing with. Additionally, researching what the most common questions are for interviews can help to avoid any surprises. We covered this topic in a previous blog which you can read here.
Review the job description in detail so your answers can be prepared accordingly. This will allow you to relate your answers directly to the position you're applying for. Practise your answers out loud so you are comfortable and confident when needing to use them in the interview.
While you personally know your own work history, achievements, and goals very well, these are not often things we regularly speak out loud. Practising your answers and clearly articulating your responses in order to reference the right experience for the right question can be hugely beneficial when interviewing.
The days leading up to the interview
It is standard that focusing can be a struggle in the days leading up to an interview. We have seen several methods candidates use when they begin experiencing this which helps them remain calm and able to prepare correctly.
Ensure you are spending time outside of your current job or interview prepping to help your body and mind feel as relaxed as possible. Moderate exercises like going for a walk, or practising yoga can help clear your mind.
There are other techniques you can use both in the days leading up to the interview as well as when you are just about to be called in to meet the interviewers. Doing some deep breathing exercises can help to reduce your heart rate and make you feel calmer. One of the most common tools that has become more relied upon over the past few years is practising mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a practice that involves focusing on your thoughts and feelings, rather than on the external environment. When done correctly, mindfulness can help reduce stress, anxiety and other negative emotions. Here are 3 tips you can use as you are waiting to be called for your interview:
1. Start with a simple exercise: Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed, and focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, counting to four. If you get distracted, just start over from the beginning.
2. Take some time for yourself: Whether that means taking 5 minutes to relax before an interview or retreating to a quiet corner of the office after it's over. Give yourself permission to calm down.
3. Bring mindfulness into the interview itself: When you're asked a question, listen intently to the question of the interviewer and allow them to finish instead of getting preoccupied with formulating the answer in your head. This will help you be more purposeful with your response and show attentiveness to what’s actually being asked.
Try to remember to be yourself. No matter how nervous you are, it’s important to avoid acting like someone else. We all understand interviews require us to put our best foot forward, it’s vital you allow your personality and communication to show through.
These are often the same reasons why you are the right fit for the role.
People respond to people and interviews are the chance for employers to meet the person who feels they can be successful in the role. This goes both ways. It can help interviewees to relax when remembering that the interviewer is also another person and not the company as a whole.
Remember that you are unique and that your individual qualities are the one thing you can sell to anybody who might look into potentially hiring you.
Plan something for after the interview
As we’ve discussed above, the interview process can be a tough few days. So while no one specifically looks forward to the stress that comes with this, it can be calming to know exactly how you’ll spend your time after you are finished.
Get yourself excited for a personal reward. This can help refocus your attention on something that you are looking forward to. That may be a relaxing evening at home, meeting some friends, or treating yourself to a nice meal.
Make some time to plan this out so you can have something personal and enjoyable to look forward to and concentrate on, instead of the jitters that come with interviewing.
As noted throughout this article, nerves are normal and it’s important to remind yourself of this. There is no one “right” way to act during an interview.
While we know not everyone will land the job they want, it's important to remember that you can always take learnings from an interview, good or bad, and use them to your advantage for your next opportunity."
Be yourself, answer with honesty and if you have an interview coming up, we wish you the best of luck!