How to Stay Calm During an Interview [9 Tips]

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Imagine you’re in an interview. 

The interviewer is asking you questions, and you’re answering them calmly and confidently. You feel like the interview is going well. Then, the hiring manager asks a question that stumps you. Your mind goes blank, and your heart starts racing.

You start to sweat, and your hands shake. You can feel the blood rushing to your face. You want to run out of the room. What do you do?

This is a common scenario that many job seekers face. Interviews are often nerve-wracking experiences, especially if you’re not prepared.  In fact, almost 40% of interviewers have reported noticing signs of nerves in candidates, such as fidgeting, sweating, and shaking.

While it’s perfectly normal to feel some nerves before an interview, staying calm and collected is important. Otherwise, you risk coming across as nervous and unprepared, which could cost you the job. 

In this guide, we’ve highlighted 9 tips for how to stay calm during an interview. 

Why Do We Get Nervous During Job Interviews?

Before we dive into how to stay calm during an interview, it’s important to understand why we get nervous in the first place.

There are two main reasons for interview nerves:

  1. The fight-or-flight response: This is our body’s natural reaction to perceived danger. When we feel threatened, our body releases hormones that prepare us to either fight or take flight. This can result in physical symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating, and shaking.
  2. Imposter syndrome: This is a psychological phenomenon where you feel like you’re not qualified or capable of doing a certain task, despite evidence to the contrary. Many job seekers experience imposter syndrome before an interview, leading to anxiety and nerves.

Is It OK To Admit To Being Nervous At An Interview?

Feeling nervous during an interview is perfectly normal – there’s no need to hide it or be ashamed of it. 

Some interviewers will even bank on you being nervous to see how you cope when under pressure. A recent survey suggested that 61% of hiring managers believe that nerves can actually be a good thing and help candidates do their best.

In fact, admitting that you’re feeling nervous can work in your favor. It shows that you’re self-aware and can regulate your emotions. It also makes you more relatable. 

That being said, there is a fine line between admitting to being nervous and coming across as anxious or unprepared. Be sure to strike a balance and stay confident in your abilities. 

So to answer the above question: Yes, it’s OK to admit you are a bit nervous –  it’s expected! Just try not to let it take over and avoid dwelling on the topic.

9 Tips for How to Stay Calm During an Interview

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to counter the effects of nerves and stay calm during an interview. Here are 9 effective tips:

1. Get a good night’s sleep

This may seem obvious, but it’s important to get a good night’s sleep before your interview. Lack of sleep can result in fatigue, making you more susceptible to stress and anxiety. 

According to one study, people who slept less than six hours the night before an important event were more likely to report feeling anxious and stressed.

So, to reduce nerves and calm your mind, aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep the night before your interview. This will help you feel more rested and better able to handle the pressure of an interview.

2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

This one should be a no-brainer, but it’s important to mention nonetheless. The more prepared you are for an interview, the calmer and more confident you will feel.

Take the time to research the company, the role, and common interview questions. This will not only help you feel more prepared, but it will also give you something to fall back on if you get nervous during the interview.

3. Focus on your breathing

When you are feeling anxious, your breathing sometimes becomes shallow and rapid. This can exacerbate anxiety and make us feel even more nervous.

That’s why you should take slow, deep breaths when you’re feeling anxious. This will help to slow your heart rate and calm your mind.

Check out these two posts:

Book Review: Breath by James Nestor

Book Review: The Wim Hof Method by Wim Hof

4. Use Positive Visualization

Positive visualization is a technique where you mentally rehearse a positive outcome for an upcoming event. This can be helpful in staying calm during an interview because it allows you to control the situation in your mind and envision a successful outcome.

To use this technique, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then, visualize yourself nailing the interview and getting the job offer. See yourself feeling calm, confident, and in control.

5. Try the STOP method

The STOP method is a simple but effective technique for how to stay calm during an interview (or any stressful situation). It stands for:

  • S- Stop what you’re doing
  • T- Take a few deep breaths
  • O- Observe how you’re feeling
  • P- Proceed with caution

When you feel yourself getting nervous during an interview,  this method will help you regain control.

6. Remember it’s just a conversation

It can be easy to forget that an interview is just a conversation between two people. But remembering this can help to take the pressure off and make you feel more relaxed. An interview is simply an opportunity for you to get to know someone and for them to get to know you. So, try to think of it as a conversation and relax into it.

7. Stay in the present moment

When we get nervous, it’s easy to start thinking of all the things that could go wrong. But dwelling on negative thoughts will only make you feel more anxious and stressed. Instead, try to stay in the present moment and focus on what’s happening right now. 

This will help you stay calm and focused on the task at hand.  

8. Plan your day around the interview

If you have an interview scheduled, try to plan your day around it so that you have time to relax and prepare. This will help take some of the pressure off and make you feel more relaxed going into the interview. 

If possible, have the interview done in the morning so you don’t spend the day worrying about it. This way, you’ll also have the rest of the day to relax and relieve any residual stress.

9. Practice relaxation techniques

There are many different relaxation techniques that you can use to calm your nerves before an interview. Some popular techniques include progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and breathing exercises.

Take some time to experiment with different techniques and find one that works for you. Then, practice it regularly so that you can use it to calm your nerves on the big day.

Keep Calm. You’ve Got This!

An interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, but there are various things you can do to stay calm and confident. Hopefully, with this post on how to stay calm during an interview, you’ll be better prepared to ace your next interview. Read our post next on…How to Make a Good Impression at a Job Interview [10 Ways]