How to calm your nerves during a job interview
Few experiences are as nerve-wracking as interviewing for a job, and we’ve all had one or more that didn’t go our way because of nerves. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before and couldn’t think straight, your mind running in circles as you tried to formulate articulate answers to the employer’s questions. Or maybe you were sweaty, couldn’t sit still, and said “um” and “like” more frequently than the average 16-year-old. Even worse, you may have found yourself in front of a panel of hiring managers while in the midst of a full-blown panic attack.
If any of these painful scenarios sound familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, a survey by LaSalle Network, a national staffing and recruiting firm, found that 71 percent of professionals feel nervous before a job interview. So, take a deep breath and try to relax. Armed with the tips we’ve included below, you can start any interview with a sense of calm and remain cool, focused, and professional the entire way through.
Banish Sweating and Shaking
If your fear is sweating, make sure you’ve applied a deodorant and antiperspirant combo. Choosing fabrics and colors that hide sweat can also help you to feel less anxious, especially if you tend to have sticky armpits or a sweaty back. For heavy sweaters, wearing layers can prevent dampness from seeping through.
If sweaty palms are your nemesis, try applying an antiperspirant to them as well. Several companies make antiperspirant hand wipes and creams that are quite effective. And if shaky hands are your issue, some experts recommend clenching your glutes (the muscles that make up your buttocks). It’s a focusing action that may help you steady your body as well as your mind. Don’t worry; your clothes will mask what you are doing.
Put a Stop to Fidgeting
Whether your distracting movement of choice is face touching, hair twirling, toe tapping, shirt tugging or frequent rearranging of your belongings, there are simple things you can do to put a stop to it. If your hands are the culprit, experts suggest allowing them to rest loosely on the table or in your lap. Placing both feet on the floor will prevent you from tapping or swinging them. If you find you’re still overwhelmed with anxious energy, bring a notebook and pen and ask if you can take notes during the interview.
Break Those Nervous Speech Patterns
Filler words and phrases such as “um,” “like,” “uh,” “you know,” and “well” are common in everyday conversation. According to linguists, we tend to use them when we’re speaking faster than we can think. They create a pause, allowing for our brains to catch up with the rest of what we want to say. Unfortunately for many of us, our use of filler words increases the more nervous we become. This can make us appear less intelligent and articulate than we actually are.
The best ways to avoid falling into nervous repetition of filler words during your interview are to allow yourself a few moments to think before responding to each question, slow down your speech so you don’t get ahead of yourself, and know at least the basics of what you’re going to say before you even get to the interview. You can find many lists of common interview questions. Review a few and take the time to prepare and practice your responses.
Avoid a Nervous Stomach
The last thing you want on your interview day is to have to make repeated dashes for the restroom. Avoid nervous stomach, and the symptoms that come with it, by treating your digestive system kindly the night before and day of your meeting. This can mean going easy on caffeine, dairy, and spicy foods as well as choosing easy-to-digest meals and snacks that provide lasting, steady energy. Bananas, almonds, and oatmeal are good options, and because they contain natural beta-blockers, they may also help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate, helping you feel calmer and more in control.
Prevent a Panic Attack
It may seem ridiculous, but your nervous system really doesn’t know the difference between fear caused by something relatively benign, like a job interview, and fear caused by something truly dangerous, like a T-rex. It reacts the same, flooding your body with adrenaline and activating your fight or flight response.
If you’ve ever been short of breath, faint, and sweaty, with your heart racing uncontrollably, you’ve likely experienced a panic attack in the past. To avoid another, it can help to remind yourself that the interviewers are friends (or could be) and not foes. They’ve asked you to meet with them because they like something about you. They want to learn more about your experiences and qualifications. It’s a conversation to welcomed, not an interrogation you need to fear.