I'm a Career Coach — Here are 10 Ways to Cope with Interview Nerves

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Anne Matsushita197
April 23, 2024 at 8:55AM UTC

As a career coach, I haven’t met anyone who loves interviewing, so being nervous is totally natural! Please remember that the company likes what they see on your resume and just wants to get to know you better. But how can you tame those inevitable jitters? It varies for everyone but here’s what's worked for some of my clients:

Before the interview

Do your homework.

Research the company and people you’re meeting with to prepare and come up with questions to ask them. Also, craft strong core stories that can answer multiple questions. Then practice saying them in front of a mirror or video record yourself so you don’t get tongue tied if you only write out your answers, and to see if you’re presenting yourself confidently.

Set the stage.

For virtual interviews, some of my clients will put pictures of family members or pets near their computer screen, to see a comforting face nearby.

Get physical.

Some people like to take a quick run before an interview to let out the nervous energy, and others like to do something like yoga to calm them down. Even a "Superman" pose in the mirror right before can help you feel strong and boost confidence.  

Talk it out.

Do you have a go-to person when you need to talk? Call them up. Sometimes getting it off your chest is enough to ground you. You can also tell yourself "I'm excited" instead of "I'm nervous" to re-channel the energy.  

Turn up the tunes.

Music is the cure for lots of people, whether it’s something upbeat to hype you up or calming music to relax you.

Nourish your body.

Many people like to make sure they eat a meal before an interview, so a growling stomach doesn’t distract them. Some folks like coffee beforehand for a burst of energy, and others stay away because it can make anxiety worse.  

Dress the part.

Make sure you’re comfortable - this isn’t the time to try a new blouse, only to find that it’s itchy and making you self-conscious. If you tend to fidget, pull back your hair or remove your jewelry to take away the temptation.

During the interview

Buy time.

It’s okay to have silence in an interview! If you are asked a question you weren’t expecting, say something like “that’s an insightful question, no one has asked me that before, let me take a minute to think about it” or “two good examples popped into mind, let me think about which one I want to share with you” - even if nothing came to mind, they don’t know that! If it’s a video or in-person interview, drink some water after they finish asking the question while you think of what to say. They will wait for you!

Be aware of filler words.

In the spirit of buying time, try replacing “um” with “and” to mask your nerves.

Mind your body language.

Neves can make people tense up. I worked with a client who put a Post-It note with a smiley face on it near her laptop camera for virtual interviews, as a reminder to relax and smile.

Ultimately, you know what's best for you. Think back to other situations where you were nervous -- maybe giving a presentation at work or school, or going on a first date, and what helped then.

A final note: when I worked in HR, some hiring managers actually liked seeing that someone was slightly nervous during an interview. It made them feel like the person really wanted the job, rather than assuming they had it in the bag. Keep in mind the company wants you to be “the one” so they are already on your side!

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
After 12+ years of progressive HR experience in the entertainment and education industries, Anne pivoted to a Career Coach opportunity with Randstad RiseSmart. She’s passionate about crafting customized job search strategies for diverse clients and helping them navigate emotional highs and lows. She’s thrilled to see clients land at Dish Network, KCBS, LinkedIn, Mattel, Salesforce, Workday, etc. and negotiate additional double-digit compensation. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn!

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for coping with interview nerves? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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