How to Overcome Interview Anxiety

Interview anxiety isn't pleasant, but it's pretty common. Learn how to avoid being nervous before, during, and after your interview with some helpful tips.
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  • Interview anxiety is common, but it doesn't have to ruin your chances of making a great impression.
  • Learning to calm your nerves before, during, and after an interview can boost your performance.
  • Asking insightful questions and maintaining good posture can help you ace an interview.

Job interview anxiety can be nerve-wracking. The dread of putting your best face forward may feel like the first day of school. If you've felt this way, you're not alone.

A 2020 JPD Interview Survey revealed that 93% of Americans have dealt with interview nerves. But just because it's common doesn't mean you have to crumble under pressure.

It's critical to calm your nerves before an interview and keep that "zen" vibe going throughout the process. Learning how to patiently wait for results after an interview is over can also be good for your well-being.

These tips can make interview apprehension feel less overwhelming and help you stay cool and confident through the job search process.

Before the Interview

Planning ahead can give you clarity and a sense of control in an uncertain environment. You don't want to go into an interview unprepared or uneducated. Get ready with these pre-interview tips.

  • Do your research: Look for information about the company you're interviewing with. Learn about the industry, the role you're applying for, and the general mission of the business. Prepare with talking points to show you've done your homework.
  • Practice your "performance": A little role-playing can help calm your nerves. Find a friend or family member who can stand in as your interviewer. They can toss out questions about your career ambitions and experience. If you don't have someone to help out, face a mirror and rehearse how you'll handle answering tough questions.
  • Focus on self-care: Eat well and stay hydrated. Get plenty of sleep. Make time for a haircut or manicure if it'll make you feel more confident. Exercise, spend time with friends and family, and try to relax. When you're at your best mentally and physically, you'll be in top form for your upcoming interview.
  • Get motivated: A positive mindset is often the foundation for a successful experience. Build yourself up with affirmations and zero in on your strengths. An internal pep talk helps a lot of people boost their self-confidence.
  • Consider the big picture: This is a job interview. Although it may be for a job you really want, it's not the only position available, and it's not your only shot at landing a job. And even if the interview process doesn't end in a job offer, the experience itself is valuable. If you're too concerned about nailing it, you may miss what makes the process educational.

During the Interview

  • Breathe deliberately: Keep yourself calm by monitoring your breathing. When you're anxious, shortness of breath and a tight feeling in your chest could cause you to panic. Take slow, deep breaths to collect yourself.
  • Think before you speak: Pausing is better than regretting what you've blurted out. When your interviewer asks you a question, they'll appreciate a thoughtful answer — no one is grading you on how quickly you've responded. If you need to skip a question and revisit it later, be honest and upfront about it.
  • Rely on body language: Steady eye contact is important in an interview. So is your posture. Sit up straight and tall, chin up, shoulders back. You want to display confidence, which is an important trait in successful employees. Present your body as self-assured, and your mind will match up.
  • Be yourself: Your potential employer wants to know who you are. Your interview is a conversation, not an examination. You bring unique elements to the table based on your personality and priorities. Putting on an act can derail the process and add stress to an interview.
  • Remain focused: Immerse yourself in the "here and now." Listen intently and don't jump ahead wondering what the next interview question may be.
  • Ask questions: Interviewers want to know if you can take the wheel if you're hired to work for them. Asking a handful of thoughtful questions can help demonstrate your attention to detail. Getting positive feedback from an interviewer in real-time may help you relax, and you can learn whether the role is a good fit your personality and professional ambitions.

After the Interview

  • Don't sweat the small stuff: Dwelling on minor issues is seldom productive. Perfectionists or people with low self-esteem may be especially inclined to obsess over the fine details of an interview. Remember that these repetitive thoughts are often a symptom of stress, and they're usually intrusive and unproductive.
  • Follow up with a thank you: Leave a pleasant impression showing appreciation and interest. You can also use this note as an extra opportunity to mention something you forgot to bring up during the interview.
  • Burn off some steam: Aerobic exercise increases the production of endorphins (the "feel-good" hormones). If you're feeling unsure or upset about how the interview went, exercise can boost self-confidence and provide a mental pick-me-up.
  • Give yourself a break: Interviewing takes a lot out of you! Catch up on sleep, get a massage, read a good book, binge-watch your favorite television series, or grab drinks with friends. Taking some time to decompress can be really important for maintaining a positive mindset. After, you may have to do this all over again!

Frequently Asked Questions About Interview Anxiety

Why do interviews give me so much anxiety?

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The fear of the unknown, paired with the pressure to impress, can be overwhelming. During an interview, it can feel like there's a lot on the line and not enough time to prove you're the best candidate for the job.

It may feel like a million thoughts are running through your mind. What if you give a wrong answer? What if you don't "click" with the interviewer? You could also be tired or jittery because you had too much caffeine. Many things can cause anxiety during an interview.

Is it OK to admit you're nervous at an interview?

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We're all human, and an interview can turn even the most laid-back, level-headed person into a bundle of nerves. Your interviewer isn't oblivious to this fact, and while it may be OK to mention that you're nervous, there's no need to state the obvious. Admitting you're nervous won't change anything.

Instead of focusing on your nerves, do your best to stay positive, pause before answering questions, and maintain eye contact throughout the interview.

How can I calm my nerves before an interview?

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Before an interview, it's important to find your inner peace, no matter how nervous you are. If you're stressed out about an upcoming interview, conscious or controlled breathing can help bring balance to the mind and body.

Focus solely on your breath -- deep inhalations in and slow exhalations out. This process can lead to less tension and clearer thinking. When you take control of your body's reaction to stress, you can curtail the "fight or flight" response that creates anxiety. You can also try this before bedtime to get a recharging night's sleep. Go into your interview more centered and composed, ready for the challenge ahead.

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