5 Tips For Staying Calm During Your Next Interview

I used to find interviews incredibly stressful. When I first applied for jobs in high school, the prospect of having to go through with an interview was the most nerve-racking part of the process. I wasn’t confident in promoting myself to prospective employers, and I was worried about how my anxiety would affect my ability to answer interviewers’ questions. Over the years, I’ve compiled some hacks to help me calm down both before and during my interviews. I now feel much more self-assured in my job hunting abilities, and here are 5 ways that you can achieve interview confidence too:

  1. 1. Preparation is key

    woman typing on laptop

    My number one tip for interviews is to trust in the power of preparation. The more you research your future employer and practice possible answers to their questions, the less disoriented you will feel when the actual interview begins. In order to prepare for your interview, you can follow three core steps: read the employer’s entire website to get an idea of their values and requirements, highlight the most relevant parts of your resume which you want to build off of during your conversation and outline rough responses to commonly asked interview questions. I follow these guidelines whenever I prepare for an interview, no matter if it’s a casual talk for an on-campus club or a long interview for a full-time job. Not having to improv all of my answers always calms my nerves, and I never feel completely lost at what to say because of the go-to comments I’ve preplanned. 

  2. 2. Arrive early

    A planner and pens sit on table

    Nothing raises my stress levels like running late, so ensuring I have my schedule cleared to arrive early for my interviews is absolutely essential. On interview days, I recommend building in a buffer of time in case anything goes wrong. For example, plan to finish getting ready 15 minutes earlier than usual just to ensure that variables like getting caught in traffic (or technical difficulties for a Zoom interview) don’t throw you off your game. Not only will being early buy you the time to avoid last minute disasters and relax before the interview begins, punctuality always impresses employers. Your goal is to make a great first impression, and showing up on time automatically conveys that you are organized and reliable. 

  3. 3. Take lots of notes

    notebook on table next to glasses and laptop

    Bringing a physical pad and pen for taking notes helps manage any fidgety nerves that come on during an interview. If you ever feel awkward about your body language or unsure of how to react while interviewers are talking, picking up a pen and writing will help you look and feel more in control. I recommend bringing an actual notebook instead of just a phone or computer, because it will look the most professional and keep you from getting distracted or embarrassed by notifications. In addition to helping quell nervous energy, taking notes will serve you well in the long run. Interviewers will notice that you’re invested in getting the most out of your interview time, and writing down information (like any interview follow-up your prospective employer requires) will keep you from forgetting key discussions. 

  4. 4. Ask your own questions

    You always have the opportunity to flip the script and diffuse the pressure by posing your own questions to the interviewers. Once you have talked for a while and are starting to feel anxious or out of breath, asking your interviewer for further explanation of a previous point could be an easy method to give yourself a break. Your inquiries can also be prewritten to purposefully show off the extent of your interest in the employment opportunity. Interviews are not only for employers to assess you, they’re for you to assess employers! Your interview shouldn’t feel like a one-sided interrogation; take the reins back and make sure that you leave the interview with a better understanding of what your possible position entails. 

  5. 5. Visualize success

    Woman meditates with her eyes closed

    As cheesy as it may sound, entering an interview with a confident mindset will help you perform better under pressure. Before your interview starts, take the time to properly hype yourself up! Listen to motivating music, dress neatly and professionally so you look your best and tell yourself that the interview will inevitably be a success. Take some deep breaths to calm your breathing and remind yourself that interviews are just discussions. It's helpful to think of how the employer you will be talking to has definitely been in your shoes before, and they are actually looking for you to succeed. I’ve personally found that keeping these positive concepts in mind helps the pressure of interviews roll off my shoulders when in the moment.

Remember that everyone has the ability to become a successful interviewee, and the more times you go through with the process, the easier it will get. When your next interview comes around, try out these techniques! I'm sure they'll help you proceed with confidence.