Everyone gets nervous before and during job interviews — whether they admit it or not. (Those who say they do not get nervous are the same people who come off as arrogant and overconfident during interviews. Watch out for them!)
Interviewers know that you will be nervous. They expect it. Still, being too nervous is not good. If you are stammering, shaking, and sweating during an interview, the interviewers will likely conclude you do not work well under pressure and are not a fit for the job.
Below are some things you can do to calm your nerves before your big interview:
The Night Before Your Interview
- Eat a healthy dinner. You know your stomach. Do not eat anything that may cause embarrassment during the interview.
- Limit your alcohol intake. You do not want to appear hungover or have a headache on the morning of your interview.
- Inspect your interview outfit and accessories. Your outfit should be ready to go because you sent it to the cleaners after your last interview. Still, you want to check it over one more time for loose threads, wrinkles, etc. Ensure it still fits. You do not want to be uncomfortable during your interview. Inspect your shoes and polish them if necessary. Lay out your accessories, too, so you do not waste time in the morning looking for the right scarf, earring, or missing cufflink. Inspect your handbag or briefcase to see if it needs polishing as well. Preparing now will save you time and frustration in the morning.
- Review possible interview questions one more time. You probably have practiced several times, but it never hurts to review. Also take a moment to practice shaking hands and making eye contact.
- Print extra copies of your resume. You do not want to be bothered by this in the morning. Just in case you have a paper jam or run out of paper or ink, printing the night before will give you the chance to calmly address the issue.
- Set your alarm. You may not feel you need an alarm, but you don’t want to risk oversleeping.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Drift off to sleep visualizing success as you listen to calming music or your favorite meditation app.
The Morning of Your Interview
- Exercise the morning of your interview to burn off energy and increase the production of endorphins, your feel-good neurotransmitters.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Do not overindulge in caffeine or energy drinks that may make you jittery. Avoid heavy carbs that may cause you to go into a “carb coma.” You know your body. Do not plan to eat or drink anything while driving. You do not want to risk spilling anything on your outfit.
- Meditate. Take time to focus and clear your mind of negative energy and thoughts.
- Visualize success. See yourself walking into the interview with confidence, shaking hands, making eye contact, etc. When the time comes to do these things, they will be automatic because your brain already knows what to do.
- Plan to arrive early. Make allowances for traffic. You have already taken your test drive to see how long it will take to arrive. Add an extra 15 minutes to the time it took during your test drive so you do not have to worry about being late. This will also give you time to go to the restroom and freshen up, if needed.
- Practice. Review your answers to possible questions one more time. Practice smiling — yes, smiling. People often forget to smile during the interview.
- Wear your power outfit or whatever makes you feel successful and confident and is appropriate for your interview. Do not wear your jacket when driving. Hang it up so it does not get wrinkled. Have a lint roller with you. Pet hair is not an accessory.
- Listen to music on your drive to the interview that will calm your nerves yet energize you.
- Breathe. Imagine you are smelling a flower and then blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. Repeat several times. The deep breath in brings fresh oxygen to your brain, which will give you clarity. The slow exhaling of the stale air will clear your brain. Do not do this too fast or you may hyperventilate.
- Do something nice for someone else. On the way to your interview, do something nice for someone. Open the door, smile and say good morning, etc. Doing something nice for someone else will elevate your mood.
Remember, you were chosen for an interview because the interviewers believe you are the right person for the job. The interview is a formality. The interviewers simply want to meet you and learn more about you. Planning not to be nervous is one part of preparing to have a successful job interview.
Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.