No matter how many job interviews you’ve gone through, it’s perfectly normal to get nervous beforehand. You might be unable to sleep the night before or feel your stomach tying up in knots as the meeting time draws closer. If nervousness about a job interview becomes overwhelming, it can hinder your performance.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to help alleviate your anxiety. Below, 15 members of Forbes Human Resources Council share smart strategies job candidates can tap into before an interview to calm down and get in the right mindset.
- Remind yourself that the employer thinks you belong there.
Whether face-to-face or virtual, it’s common to be nervous before an interview. One quick thing everyone can do right before an interview to help calm any nerves and get into the right mindset is to remember that the employer agreed to meet with you, so it’s clear the employer thinks that you already belong there. Now all you have to do is simply have a conversation with them to show they’re right. – Dr. Timothy J. Giardino, BMC Software
- Learn everything you can about the company.
I think it is great for a candidate to learn all that they can about the company that they are interviewing with. I also try to tell those who are interviewing to just be themselves, talk about what they have done and tell their story. Only you know your story—many times, as your story is being told, how you might best fit the organization naturally hits home with the hiring manager. – Heather Smith, Flimp Communications
- Go back over the details.
Review the job description, highlighting the skills and experience required for the position. Use subliminal communication to articulate your skills, interests and goals to an interviewer. Review your résumé and know what skills, education and experience you wish to convey to the employer that match the position’s needs. Boost your skills portfolio by providing certifications related to the job. – CJ Eason, Hired In Michigan Career Institute
- Identify your talking points.
Being nervous before an interview is normal, and it’s a sign that you care about the outcome! The best thing you can do to ease your anxiety is to be prepared. Print out any materials you may need, pick out your outfit and know your talking points ahead of time. If you’re interviewing remotely, ensure you are comfortable with the tech being used. This will help you avoid any day-of worries. – Larry Dolinko, The Execu|Search Group
- Practice storytelling.
Stay positive, and don’t doubt your abilities. Be prepared, as a lack of preparedness can exacerbate your confidence and nerves. Practicing storytelling—the ability to tell someone about your experience will help you get comfortable. Stay calm and try slow, focused deep-breathing exercises. Warm up your voice, and practice tongue twisters to improve articulation. – Jacqlyn Nedvin, Autism Speaks Inc.
- View yourself as the CEO of your career.
During your preparation, worry less about what people are going to ask and focus more on what you are going to share. Yes, it is a Catch-22. Ultimately, only you know and can tell your story. As the CEO of your career, you are the expert on the path you have taken throughout your journey. This shift in mindset empowers you to control the narrative and to view yourself as a subject-matter expert. – Megan McCann, McCann Partners
- Ask those closest to you about your nervous habits.
One sincere way to prepare prior to an interview is to ask those who are closest to you what you do when you are nervous. Maybe you tap a pen, say “um” repeatedly or talk louder or faster—your close friends and family members can tell you. Be open and take note of their feedback, then raise your awareness of these involuntary shifts and work to control them. – Rebecca Edwards, Infinite HR of Charlotte
- Think about what you want the interviewer to feel.
Talk to yourself. Nerves are a beautiful symptom that you care about the situation—that’s a good thing. Take a moment to think about how you want the person interviewing you to feel. Do you want them to think you’re reliable? Creative? Also, any hiring manager you’d want to work for would welcome your saying out loud that you’re nervous because you’re so excited about the role. It’s nothing to fear and nothing to hide. – Elizabeth Roberts, eGenesis, Inc.
- Pump yourself up.
Nerves can dampen your personality by making your delivery a little flat. Here are two tricks to pump you up: First, just before the interview, play your favorite song at full blast and let loose. It raises your energy level and makes you smile. Second, keep a picture of your “why” nearby—maybe it’s your spouse, significant other, children or pets. If you feel your anxiety rising, take a peek at the picture to settle yourself. – Karen Crone, Paycor, Inc.
- Give yourself a pep talk.
Take a deep breath, shift your mindset and give yourself a pep talk: “I add value. I am worth it.” It’s not only about your competence—your role as an interviewee is also to build credibility and show confidence in your abilities. If you believe in yourself, others naturally will, too. Remember, an interview is a two-way conversation and the beginning of a relationship. – Zaina Orbai, The RealReal
- Practice box breathing.
I always recommend candidates practice box breathing: Take a deep breath, hold it for four beats, exhale, hold your breath again for four beats and repeat the process. It can have not only a calming effect but also a mindful effect, making you more aware of how you’re presenting yourself. This often helps you avoid speaking too fast as well. – Cat Graham, Cheer Partners
- Stay true to yourself.
We all get nervous during interviews, no matter how skilled or experienced we are. I believe the most important thing is to stay true to who you are and be authentic. It’s not about being perfect or having all the answers. You know yourself better than anyone! Practice the interview, do your homework, understand the organization and show how you can make a difference. – Darlene Slaughter, March of Dimes
- Think of the interview as a conversation.
To calm down and get in the right mindset before an interview, remember the interview is a conversation. Find the calming method that works for you, whether that’s a breathing exercise, listening to music, checking out a podcast or having positive mantras. The goal is to present your best self with confidence and positive energy. – Sherry Martin, Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS)
- Remember that this is your chance to interview them, too.
The advice I give nearly every candidate is to take a deep breath and remind yourself: The company sees value in you, which is the reason they asked to interview you. You’re being asked to speak to something you know better than anyone else: you and your experience. Remember that this is your chance to interview them, too—it’s all about both parties determining if this is a good mutual fit. – Justin Martinez, Solomon Page
- Focus on the experience, not the result.
A candidate must not view an interview as a “do or die” situation on which their future depends. They should invert the thinking and view the interview as a chance to evaluate the interviewer and the culture fit. When a candidate focuses on the interview experience and not the result—when rejection is no longer a fear—the aura the candidate projects will be positive and confident. – Vineet Gambhir, Contemporary Leadership Advisors