Professional Education and Career Blog

How to Beat Interview Anxiety

nervousFew things in life are as stressful as preparing for a job interview. Just the thought of it for many people can bring the cold sweats – the idea of being in a series of rooms with people whose function is to judge whether you’re worthy of earning a living or not. And when it’s time to get dressed, review your preparation and get ready to leave, all the bad things that could happen start to invade your thoughts. If this sounds like you, then you’ve experience the joy of Interview Anxiety. But there are things you can do to keep the panic down and your chances of success up.

Facts about Interview Stress

First, know that it’s normal. The vast majority of people get interview stress, depending on what’s at stake and how confident they feel. Even people with significant experience performing can get a bad case. These are physiological reactions baked deeply into our brains, which will ramp up our adrenaline when it perceives a threat. The brain doesn’t distinguish between nervousness about our future and immediate physical danger, and thus it revs up our bodies to prepare for fight-or-flight.

You can never completely conquer the anxiety of these situations, but there are many tools you can use to keep it at bay and make the beast manageable. Here are some of the best tips.

How to Conquer the Anxiety

  • Take Care of Yourself. Don’t make things hard on yourself by being a physical wreck walking into your potential boss’s office. Get plenty of rest. Exercising the morning of the interview can be a great way to release some nervous energy. Eat a good breakfast so you don’t feel low in energy.
  • Do Your Homework. Research the company, and if you know who your interviewers are, research their professional background as well. Know all there is to know about the company so that you aren’t caught off-guard. Study the employer’s web site, and read articles about recent company history and challenges.
  • Visit the Site. You can invoke a bit a familiarity by walking around the grounds so that it’s not your first glimpse of the place. It also helps eliminate a potential problem of getting lost on your way to the interview.
  • Get There Early. Although you don’t want to crash the interview early, get to the office 15 minutes beforehand so you can use the restroom, check your suit, and calm yourself down.
  • Think Positive. Even if your knees are literally shaking, walk in with confidence, faked if necessary. Visualize someone you know or someone famous who projects a confident image and pretend you’re them.
  • Rehearse. Search the web for lists of typical interview questions. Pretend like someone asks you each one, and practice a good answer. Pay attention to more than just the words – think about your facial expressions, keeping good eye contact, and good posture.
  • Pretend That it’s Not an Interview. Ultimately an interview is really a conversation about your background and the company’s background. Keep it loose and just talk.
  • Slow Down. Some people when they get nervous run their answers at double speed, which just makes them sound out of control. Speak casually, but deliberately. Don’t rush through answers, take your time and answer questions thoroughly.
  • aceditDon’t Expect Perfection. Go in with the attitude that you will make mistakes, mis-statements, and generally have a few stumbles. It’s okay – people expect that. If you make a gaffe, laugh about it with the interviewer. Admitting mistakes in a pressure situation shows confidence.
  • Ask Questions. Don’t just be an answer machine, interview the interviewer. That helps shift the focus off yourself and engages your mind into the moment. Beyond that, it’s a crucial way to show that you’re interested in the company.
  • When All Else Fails, Breathe. The interviewer asks a question, and suddenly you get a panic attack. You’re throat seizes up and you can’t get any words out. What do you do? Rub your chin like you’re thinking about the answer, and slow your breathing. Do a ten count of slow breaths. Make a deep sigh, bounce a question back to the interviewer, just to buy a bit more time. Chances are, your posture is slumping at this point, so make an effort sit up straight again. Slow things down until the feelings pass.
  • Don’t Schedule Anything Afterward. You don’t want to feel rushed, and you want the option of a longer interview should they want it.
  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Ultimately, a lot of the advice above comes down to preparation. Think of all the ways you can prepare yourself. A prepared person is a confident person.

If you practice these tips, you can do a lot to keep your anxiety under control. But even if your interview goes poorly, don’t let it stop you from trying again. Interviews are like anything else – you get better at it through practice. The more interviews you go on, the better you will get at managing your stress. Keep at it, and you will get where you want to go.