How to Calm Your Nerves Before an Interview (With Tips)

Updated 25 January 2023

Staying calm and confident before the meeting begins is important when you're interviewing for a role. Managing your nerves can help you highlight your strengths and describe why you're the right candidate for the position. In addition, understanding how to calm your nerves before an interview and remain relaxed can help you discuss your qualifications easily and demonstrate your relevant professional skills. In this article, we review why it's important to calm your nerves, describe how to do so and list helpful tips for staying relaxed throughout the interview process.

How to calm your nerves before an interview

Here's a list of steps you can follow to learn how to calm your nerves before an interview with a prospective employer:

1. Review the position

One way to help you stay calm before an interview is to familiarise yourself with the role by reviewing the organisation and job description. Familiarity makes you more aware of what the employer is looking for in a candidate relative to the qualifications you possess. Read the job description several times to identify any keywords the employer lists to help you discuss points related to them when you meet with a hiring manager.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

2. Prepare for questions the hiring manager may ask

A reason many people are nervous before an interview is fear of the unknown. While you can't preempt every question the interviewer asks, preparing for the most common ones can help you significantly reduce your nervousness. Before going to the meeting, consider performing a mock interview with a friend and practising answers to common interview questions. Knowing what to expect can help you feel calmer and more comfortable.

You could also write down questions you'd like to ask, particular traits you want the organisation to know about you and notes to help you remember. Referencing your notes during the interview is a great way to refocus when speaking with a panel or a hiring manager.

Related: 6 Common Second Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

3. Plan your day around the interview

Consider planning your day around your interview to avoid other obligations or tasks before you meet with a hiring manager. Planning your day helps you arrive on time, as there are no appointments before your interview that could set back your schedule and cause you to be late. Try to arrange for your interview to take place in the morning to avoid building pressure in anticipation of the meeting's outcome.

The night before your interview, try to get adequate sleep to help you stay alert and focused for your meeting. You might also plan somewhere fun or exciting to visit after the interview to have something pleasant to look forward to.

Related: 10 Interview Hacks to Help You Prepare for a Job Interview

4. Talk to a family member or friend

Talking to an encouraging friend or family member can help boost your confidence before an interview. Consider speaking with someone familiar with your skills who can reassure you that you're a good fit for your prospective role. Receiving encouragement might ease your nerves and help you feel calmer and more self-assured.

Related: Preparing for an Interview: How to Do It and Why It Matters

5. Exercise before the interview

On the morning of the interview, consider engaging in light exercises, such as going for a walk or practising yoga. Moving your body releases positive neurochemicals, and exercising outside can benefit your mental health. Exercising can help you release some of the energy you build up before a worrying or exciting event, such as an interview. If you don't have much time, even a five-minute walk around the building beforehand can calm your nerves and help you focus and relax.

Related: Top 16 Interview Questions and Answers

6. Use the STOP method

The STOP method is a mental technique to help you overcome stressful situations and maintain your composure. The purpose of the STOP method is to slow yourself down and become aware of what you're doing and how you're feeling at that moment. It allows you to remember that you're in control of your actions and thoughts. The steps of this technique are:

  1. S: Stop what you're doing and focus on what you're thinking.

  2. T: Take a few deep breaths, as many as you need.

  3. O: Observe what's happening inside your body. Observe your emotions, the thoughts in your mind and why you're feeling these things.

  4. P: Proceed with the intention to incorporate these observations into your following actions.

Related: 10 Signs an Interview Went Well (With Interview Tips)

7. Reconsider how you think about the interview

You might feel nervous before an interview because you perceive it as a challenging event instead of an opportunity to share your background and highlight your skills. If you can shift how you think about the interview and view it as a conversation rather than an interrogation, you might feel more confident when meeting with the prospective employer. While an employer typically uses the conversation to determine that you're suitable for the role, the interview also provides an opportunity for you to decide if the position and the employer are a good fit for you.

Therefore, it's just as important for you to like the organisation and role as it's for the employer to decide you're the best candidate for the position. Questioning the interviewer about the role and asking about the organisation can help to create a more balanced power dynamic and lessen feelings of nervousness.

Related: 9 Best Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

Why is it important to calm your nerves before an interview?

Calming your nerves before an interview is important because it can help you to stay focused and able to calmly rehearse what you plan to say to a hiring manager when you meet them. Remaining relaxed can help you discuss your experience and qualifications, ensuring you remember essential details. Employers often prefer candidates who are confident in their skills and ability to perform in the prospective role. Staying calm before and during your interview helps you demonstrate your self-assurance.

Related: 11 Interview Techniques to Help You Secure Your Dream Job

Tips for staying calm before an interview

When you're preparing for an interview, there are actions you can take to relax and focus on describing your experience and credentials. Here are some tips that can help you overcome your nerves:

Plan your outfit ahead of time

Taking care of tasks ahead of time, such as planning your outfit for the interview, can help you feel calmer and more confident. Deciding what you want to wear the night before allows you to wake up ready to meet with the hiring manager. Preparing your outfit also ensures it's clean, steamed or ironed if necessary. When choosing your outfit, try to select comfortable and professional clothes and accessories, so you're not thinking about your tight jacket or painful shoes while trying to describe your role-related credentials and skills.

Related: What to Bring to an Interview

Practise taking deep breaths

When you prepare for a potentially stressful situation, taking deep breaths can calm your nerves. Use deep breathing to slow down your heart rate and help refocus your thoughts, so you feel more in control. Also, take a moment to pause and reflect on why you want the position and all the reasons that qualify you for the role. You can also use deep breathing to calm you during the interview. Paying attention to your breathing and pausing before speaking can give you more time to formulate a thoughtful and composed response.

Related: How to Introduce Yourself in an Interview

Eat breakfast before the interview

Hunger can add to your worry and stress. Eat a good breakfast before your interview to give you enough energy to focus on your goal. In addition, you can choose one of your favourite foods to help lighten your mood.

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