Handling Interview Nerves

Picture of someone being nterviewed

Keeping calm during a job interview is quite a skill. Ask the people around you, and you would be hard-pressed to find a person who brims with excitement and anticipation for the thrill that is a job interview. The good news is, this is completely normal, and there is much you can do to set yourself up for interview success.

Top tips for managing your interview nerves: 

  • Think of the interview as a conversation, as this is your opportunity to ask questions and learn about the company equally is it the employer’s opportunity to learn more about you.
  • The interviewers are friends, not foe! No one wishes you to fail—in fact, the interviewers are vested in selecting only the best potential candidates for interview. If you have made it to this stage, you have done well, and it’s time to seal the deal.
  • Place shaky hands in your lap and take a drink bottle to sip if your mouth becomes dry. Trick your body into feeling calmer by sitting slightly forward in the chair and displaying a natural smile—positive body language that can help you feel more relaxed.
  • Take time to collect your thoughts before answering. Remember: breathe and think! If you find yourself overwhelmed or forgetting the question, simply ask the interviewers to repeat it.
  • Focus on your strengths, and relate your skills, experience and core capabilities directly to the requirements of the job. Review the job description or advertisement (study it thoroughly) and prepare examples and answers that address the needs of the position following the situation, action, outcome (SAO) or challenge, action, result (CAR)
  • Reflect on your performance. It is accepted that mistakes do happen, and the essential step in this process is to reflect, learn and improve based on your experience.

Always remember to be realistic—even if you do perform well, sometimes it just isn’t our day. There can only be one successful applicant, and despite your best effort it may not be you—and that is ok! If you weren’t successful at securing the job after the interview, ask the employer for feedback, learn from the experience and improve for the next. Take heart that the right job for you is out there—persist and keep striving to improve. Practice makes progress.