Manage your interview nerves

By Tricia Raxworthy, Information & Engagement Officer

An email in your inbox invites you for an interview – but along with excitement and relief that you’ve made it to the next stage in the recruitment process, you may also experience feelings of anxiety and stress. Read on to keep those interview nerves in perspective:

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Nerves are normal

The first thing to remember is that nerves are normal! Whether it’s your first interview, or you’ve had a few interviews already, feeling nervous is a sign that the interview (and potential job) is important to you. It can even help you to perform better.

Try not to focus on the things that might go wrong. Instead remember that nerves are a way of getting ready to meet a challenge, and think about the good things that could happen if you do well. 

Prepare

  • Review the job description and look over your application – what might the interviewers want to ask you about or pick up on? 
  • Look at the skills listed in the job ad, and think of examples for when you used those skills. Practise talking about these using the CAR technique (context – action – result). Describe a situation, explain what action you took, and reflect on the result.
  • Use the same technique to prepare for other questions, for example about working to a tight deadline, dealing with a difficult situation, being a member of a team, your greatest achievement, and make sure your answers mention skills relevant to the job.
  • Research the company. Use their website, LinkedIn and news items to find out about their work, challenges and culture.
  • Plan ahead. Plan your outfit, check the journey, and arrive in good time (around 10 minutes early is fine).

Techniques

  • Remember nerves are normal and focus on a good outcome
  • Breathe. Take some deep breaths, practise mindfulness techniques before your interview if you find them helpful.
  • Smile. Smiling releases endorphins which make you feel better
  • Sit comfortably. Sit at the back of the chair, feet on the floor, leaning forward slightly, and try not to fidget.
  • Listen carefully. Maintain eye contact when someone is talking to you; listen to what they are saying and don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat or explain a question.
  • Take your time. It is fine to take a moment to think before replying to an interview question; you can even repeat part of the question to give yourself some thinking time, eg “How would it play to my strengths?” – pause – answer.

Practise

  • Set aside some time to practise for your interview. This will help you feel more confident. 
  • Use the Shortlist.Me marketplace to try some mock video interview questions. Find out more in our previous blog How to supercharge your job applications 
  • Get a friend to ask you some questions, or practice in front of a mirror.
  • Book a mock interview in Handshake with a careers consultant.

So remember, nerves are normal and you can still do a great interview. Nervousness is not the main reason employers reject candidates. Do your preparation, research the company, relate your skills and experience to what they’re looking for, and be ready to convince them that you will be a good fit for their job. Good luck!