Interview Stress Busting Tips

difficult job interviews

Interview Stress Busting Tips

No matter how many interviews you’ve had in the past or how well qualified you are for a position, it’s only natural to be nervous going into an interview.  Being a little nervous is normal and can even be helpful at times. The key is to keep your nerves in the healthy range and not let it turn you into a highly charged and stressed person walking into the interview.

While nerves heighten your senses and focus your attention, letting yourself move into the “stress” zone can actually accomplish the opposite.  When you’re stressed, you let emotion control you, which will distract you from the task at hand and even alter your mood…. Definitely not what you want to happen during an interview.  Bottom line is stress can, and often does prevent you from being able to put your best foot forward precisely when you need to shine the most.

So how do you beat stress in a naturally stressful situation? Here are a few tips.


Interviews can often feel like walking into a trap of questions you don’t know the answer to.  Given that most people have a fear of the unknown, it’s not hard to see why meeting strangers in an unfamiliar place to be asked anonymous questions for which your answers will be evaluated under a microscope would be nothing less than terrifying.

Instead of focusing on the unknowns, start adding to your list of “knowns” in order to give yourself a sense of certainty walking into the interview room. Add as many certainties to the interview process as possible.  The more you feel you know, the better prepared you’ll feel. It may not seem like much, but every detail you know before the day of the interview will give you more confidence.

  • Who’s interviewing me? Can I look them up on social media?
  • What will I wear? Is appropriate and in good condition?
  • What do I know about the company? What’s new with them?
  • What exactly do I know about the position I’m applying for?
  • What questions do I need answered to see if this job is a good fit?

After you’ve done all your research, it’s time to practice.  Rehearse your answers, introductions, and exits. Rehearse until your responses become muscle memory and your tone resembles your natural one.


Rest & Hydrate

Make sure you are well rested and hydrated going into the interview.  All the preparation in the world can’t help you if you’re a tired and unfocused.  Being exhausted affects your brain’s function, your mood, and even body language.  Dehydration is just as bad.  In fact, research has proven that dehydration inhibits your ability to think clearly and puts your brain in a what’s called a “brain fog”.


Limit Caffeine

Everyone loves an amazing cup of joe heading into the day, and if you’re like most Americans, your mug is nothing less than 12oz.  On interview day, you want to limit your caffeine intake for a couple reasons.  The first is, caffeine gives you energy and if you are already nervous, it can heighten your state to “nervous energy” very quickly.  Not a great idea, if you are a nervous talker or fidgetier.  Also, coffee increases your blood pressure, which is probably already high if you are particularly nervous.  If you normally don’t drink coffee, interview day is not a good day to start.

There are some benefits of caffeine and, consumed in limited amounts can actually help.  Caffeine releases dopamine, giving you a sense of alertness and a bump in energy.  Also, if you are in the habit of drinking coffee, going without could actually harm you.  People who have formed an addiction to caffeine often experience mild “withdrawal” symptoms when going cold turkey.  The last thing you want in the middle of an interview is a migraine.

Visualization and Meditation

Usually, when we are nervous about something our mind naturally tends to dream up worst case scenarios that are played out repeatedly in our imagination.  Over time, we can start to believe that this invented disaster is the probable outcome, rather than just one of several.  To combat this, practice visualizing a best case scenario and actively recalling it throughout the day. The more we imagine things going very well, the more we believe a positive outcome is a probable one.  Meditation, yoga, or any type of relaxing and deep breathing exercises will also help to settle any unwanted nerves just before an interview.

Practice Positivity

During the interview process, your interviewer will often ask you some tough questions.  Whether it’s about your weaknesses or for further clarification, it can sometimes feel a bit intimidating.  When people feel threatened, their “fight or flight” instinct often kicks in and we begin to feel stress.  Unfortunately, this often means a candidate will begin to shrink back or become a bit combative and defensive in their responses.  Rather than interpreting these questions as an attack, try putting a positive spin on them.  Know that most of the candidates are getting the same questions and if you’ve made it as far in as the “weakness” questions that means you’re not in the “end this interview ASAP” group.  That’s a great thing! When they ask you for clarification, it’s not because they want to stump you, but because they are genuinely interested in your skills and experience.  When approaching your responses from a positive mindset, your entire demeanor changes and your responses are usually much more professional and engaging.  Positive responses encourage communication, rather than interrupting the flow.

For more interview stress busting tips check out our blog here!

Or take a look at these other resoureces:

Harvard Business Review


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