I've Interviewed Thousands But It Didn't Make Me Less Nervous On Mine — 3 Ways I Coped

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Marjorie Kalomeris202
Founder & Interview Coach @ MK Career Coaching
May 29, 2024 at 9:30PM UTC

As a recruiter, I have conducted thousands of interviews (literally), and I know how nervous candidates can get, understandably so. But last year, I recently had the experience of interviewing for the first time in years, and it reminded me of what a stressful process it can be. I thought I would be totally fine — I am a recruiter, after all! But as the interview time drew nearer, I found myself getting more and more nervous. I knew my stuff well, but the nerves did take over a bit right beforehand (and even during the interviews). Here are some things that helped me get around the nerves, even temporarily:

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. 

Give yourself at least a full week to prepare if you can. Write out your answers to potential questions, and learn as much about the company as possible. Check the company news the morning of, to make sure nothing major happened that you could be caught off-guard with. I know, this tip doesn’t seem too relaxing, but over-preparing will calm you down a bit. Know the interview stories you want to bring up, but make sure you’re not reading off a script when it comes to interview time. 

A preparation structure I recommend to my clients is to prep three positive examples (times you accomplished something big, a career milestone, etc.) and three difficult examples (times you failed at something, learned from your mistakes, or did something you wish you had handled differently). Keeping your answers balanced shows that you aren’t perfect all the time, which helps your interviewers relate to you and see how you learn from your mistakes for the future.

2. Take care of yourself in the lead-up to the interview. 

Make sure you’ve slept as much as you can, and are well-fed and watered (literally — hydrate!). Pick out your outfit the night before, even for a virtual interview. Give yourself a few extra hours, and clear the rest of your schedule that day if you can. Some of these might be tough to do if you’re extremely nervous or working full-time, but giving yourself lots of time and space on the interview day leaves room for if things go wrong (and things usually come up — wifi or Zoom snafus, etc.). Make sure you have a pen and paper to jot down notes, your resume or LinkedIn handy, and some water.

3. Ground yourself in the here and now. 

As a recruiter, I use the affirmation “I help people get jobs” when going into a recruiter interview or a potential client call. If nothing else, this helps me remember my value quickly. Bonus points if you say this to yourself ten times in the mirror the morning of the interview. Extra bonus points if you record yourself saying this and play it back the morning of. Repetition is key to this being effective. You can also look around the room and find five things that are blue — a grounding exercise like this can help bring you into the here and now, and take you out of that worried state.

It’s also helpful to remember that you are just one moment in this person’s likely very busy day. Although you might be going over your answers in your head repeatedly, I can guarantee they’ve moved onto their next meeting. It’s not to say they don’t want to hire you, maybe they really liked you. But as someone who interviews and hires for a living, I can attest to the fact that we are often juggling more tasks than we’d like on any given day. 

And remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. It’s a competitive talent market, and they’re likely trying to woo you, even if it doesn’t feel like it. So they want you to succeed and do well, to accept an offer. That’s right, they actually want to give you the job. Don’t be afraid to bring some tough questions to ask at the end and evaluate these companies on a set of criteria that’s important to you. You’re evaluating them as a potential place to spend a portion of your life, just as much as they are evaluating you. 

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Marjorie Kalomeris is the Founder of MK Career Coaching, an interview and career coaching consultancy for women in tech. Marjorie is a Senior Recruiter in the tech space and has recruited at several hyper-growth tech companies like LinkedIn and HubSpot. She has lived in Ireland and the Netherlands and is currently based in NYC. Sign up for her new LinkedIn newsletter, Ask a Recruiter, here.

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

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