It’s right before an important job interview. Suddenly, your heart’s pounding, your mouth goes dry, and you begin to feel nauseous. And you start to doubt that you’re going to be able to answer even one of the hiring manager’s questions properly.
If this sounds familiar, you suffer from some serious job interview jitters. The good news is that you’re not alone. While it’s normal to feel a little nervous before a job interview, when your nerves start to get the better of you, it can affect your responses and the impression you make on the hiring manager. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to overcome your anxiety and even put all your nervous energy to good use.
As Lenore Holditch points out in her Undercover Recruiter article “5 Ways to Shake off Your Job Interview Anxiety,” knowing what to expect is critical to reducing your nerves. Study your résumé so you’ll be able to elaborate on anything a hiring manager might ask. Prepare for questions like, “Why do you want to work here?” by researching the company. Get your clothes ready well ahead of time, and visit the location where the interview will take place so you’ll know where to go on the day itself.
Practice the interview.
Ask a friend to help you out by doing a mock interview. It doesn’t matter that he or she might not know all the questions to ask. What matters is that you get the opportunity to practice speaking about your qualifications, experience, and aspirations — as well as what value you’d bring to the company and why this position is the right next step for you.
Limit your caffeine intake.
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can aggravate any symptoms of anxiety you might be experiencing. Instead of drinking coffee or tea, try sipping water.
In her Psychology Today article “10 Ways to Calm Your Interview Anxiety,” Katharine Brooks, Ed.D. advises doing deep breathing exercises. Count to four while breathing in; hold your breath for two counts; and count to four while breathing out. Do this for one or two minutes, or until you feel calmer.
Focus on something else.
It’s normal to get caught up in your own mind when you’re experiencing anxiety, but doing so can make your nerves worse. Concentrating on something else — whether it’s a painting in the lobby or the hiring manager’s voice during the interview — can help you distance yourself from your nervousness and alleviate your stress.
Embrace your nervous energy.
As April Starcadder points out in “Here’s the Secret to Using Your Interview Anxiety to Your Advantage” in The Muse, you can learn to harness the adrenaline you experience when you’re nervous. All you have to do is realize that your nerves are simply an expression of energy —and you can transform that energy so that it works for you, for example by being extra positive or creative during the interview.
Being nervous before a job interview is perfectly normal. If you keep these tips in mind, you can calm yourself down so you can make the most of the exciting opportunity ahead of you.