How to Deal With Job Interview Nerves

After a long search, you’ve made it to the interview stage and got a chance to be qualified for the job. Everything is going well, you are confident in your professional skills, have the appropriate experience, and perhaps, this is not your first interview. But still, you feel uncomfortable, and you can’t stop yourself from overthinking everything – the thought about the upcoming process makes chills run up and down your spine. Now it’s time to cope with the job interview nerves and nail it down.  

Stress during an interview is a common thing, which is not surprising since we are not given a chance as often as we would like. According to EBI’s interview statistics, only 2 % of job seekers get called back for a meeting with a company. Failure at an interview due to fear and anxiety hurts even more and entails an increase in stress and consequently further struggles of the job search.

What Causes Stress and Anxiety?

The cause of job interview stress is the fear of a possible rejection, which we perceive as the rejection of our professional qualities and hence feel devalued as individuals.

“Unfortunately, we did not select you for further consideration” – We don’t want to mess with you.

“We have moved forward with some stronger matched candidates” – You are worthless/uneducated/dumb.

Now take some time to ponder over those self-deprecating beliefs. What made you think so? Are you for sure that kind of person?

“I’m not creative” – Where did these thoughts come from? Have you had any negative experience where someone challenged your creative abilities? Most importantly, was it constructive criticism?

“I lack leadership skills.” – Track when this feeling arose in you. Have you ever compared yourself to more successful colleagues?

How to Calm Your Job Interview Nerves

First of all, you need to remember two things:

  1. Compare is despair. If someone can quickly grasp technical concepts and you can not, this does not mean you are worthless. You have your strengths.
  2. A company can only hire the best that is available on the market because the ‘perfect’ candidate is already employed. That means the candidate that fits a particular job is not likely to tick every box.

Take a piece of paper and write down what’s bothering you. Describe why you think you are not a good fit for the role. It’s crucial to bring arguments to support each claim. E.g., if you think you are a bad storyteller, you can explain it by lacking experience in this area or by an inability to work with information. Or: you are not a team player because you can’t trust others/your perfectionism is backfiring on you and others.

When assembling the list, try to control your feelings: you need to stay focused and unbiased. Ask your friends to objectively evaluate you according to those criteria. Of course, some of your fears will get confirmed, but some will appear to be irrational and based on overthinking. Once you’re done, look at the list and find a counterargument to each statement: you got not enough experience in storytelling but you learn fast since you exceeded expectations in writing articles for the last project.

Analysing your weaknesses and searching for strengths will help you mentally get ready for uncomfortable questions, and most importantly, adapt to possible rejection. In order for assessment to work, you have to avoid both overrating and underrating yourself: it is much more important to determine your real position on the labor market based on your actual qualification. If you try to be smarter than you are, you will feel uncomfortable at the interview, forcing yourself to play that role. That won’t allow your personality to shine and make you feel more nervous and agitated.

Preparing For a Job Interview

Another thing you must not fall into is sort of “I am good at nothing” self-judgement. It is always false since everyone has talents and there are things that you can do well.

Imagine how that ‘perfect’ candidate would interview for your job. Guess what he or she says, possible intonation and feelings. Recall when you experienced this feeling, or imagine that you are experiencing it now. Change the pose to the one that fits the condition and make movements accordingly. Remember that speaking too fast gives the impression that you are nervous, confused and lost.

Try to speak a little louder than usual so that you can be distinctly heard, but at the same time, you do not seem rude. Preparing answers to uncomfortable questions beforehand will reduce stress during the interview and help avoid awkward silence. When you can’t answer a question immediately, it’s okay to say: “Let me think about that for a moment”, or ask to clarify the question: “Do you mean…”

Provide your interviewer with information you know and tell about the steps you would take to solve the problem. Don’t hesitate to ask questions: you are interviewing the company the same way it is questioning you. We hope that our tips will help you beat your interview nerves and land a good job. Stay positive and don’t forget to peek at our latest vacancies in case you’re still job hunting.

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