After spending hours crafting the perfect CV and pouring over job boards, your hard work has finally paid off! The hiring manager from a company you really want to work for wants to see you, and the big interview is tomorrow. Understandably, you’re excited, but as your appointment draws closer, pre-interview anxiety kicks in. If this scenario sounds familiar, keep reading for advice on how to calm pre-job interview nerves, and increase your chances of securing a job offer.
This post focuses on calming any pre-interview anxiety you might have. If you’re wondering how to prepare for the interview, we have several articles you may find useful for each stage of the recruitment process:
Why We Get Nervous Before Job Interviews
To overcome job interview nervousness, it often helps to understand the driving force behind your feelings. Our fight or flight response is to blame, which is the same response we might have to any stressful situation. While we can’t switch it off, recognising how it works can help us manage our feelings better.
Imagine for a moment; you’re a caveman out hunting for lunch. All of a sudden, you find yourself in the path of a massive sabre-toothed tiger. The momentary sense of panic you feel raises your cortisol levels and releases adrenaline.
Adrenaline causes your heart to beat faster, elevating your blood pressure and boosting your energy. At the same time, cortisol increases the sugar available in your bloodstream. Together, these hormonal reactions occur quickly to help us get out of danger, in one of two ways: Either, we fight for our lives or run as fast as we can away from the tiger.
This instinctive hormonal response may have been beneficial to our caveman ancestors, but it’s not so helpful to our career development when we’re about to go into a job interview. Unfortunately, our hormones don’t understand the difference between a tiger and a job interview. They’re merely responding to a stressful situation.
Now we know what causes this excess nervous energy, we can do a few things to combat its effects.
Be Prepared for Stressful Situations
The better we prepare ourselves for a job interview, the less likely we will get stressed out by it.
However, a few years ago, we may have been given a few weeks’ notice to prepare for a big interview. Thanks to a current shortage of skills, when hiring managers come across a good CV, they tend to act quickly. Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly common for candidates to receive interview invitations with only a day’s notice. So how can we prepare in such a short space of time?
The key to interview preparation is to start as you’re submitting your application for the role. As you’re reading through the job advert, look for clues that might give away what’s important to the hiring manager. Then try to imagine what competency questions they might ask you during the interview. Ask a friend or family member to help you with some practice interview questions.
It’s essential to keep in mind that the company is interviewing you because you’ve already impressed them! As long as you know your CV and you’ve researched the company, you should stand a good chance of getting the job.
The articles mentioned above will help you properly prepare for every stage of the interview process.
Exercise to Eliminate Interview Nerves
Even if we feel slightly anxious, our cortisol levels rise. If we don’t respond by using up that nervous energy, we may experience shaky hands, sweating and dilated pupils. We may also start thinking negative thoughts, which is a natural part of the fight or flight response: Thinking negatively about the stressful situation is designed to protect us by making us want to run away from it.
Exercise is an excellent way of using up the excess energy triggered by the fight or flight response. Even a short walk before the interview starts is enough to return our hormone levels to normal to stay calm throughout the meeting.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Having a restless night’s sleep alone is enough to make us feel stressed out, so make sure you get a good one before your job interview. However, as many insomniacs will know, the path to the land of nod is not always easy to navigate, particularly during stressful times. So here are a few tips that might help you drift off despite pre-interview nerves:
- Get out in the sunshine during the daytime if you can and avoid blue light before bed. In combination, these two things will stimulate your natural circadian rhythm for a good night’s sleep.
- Don’t drink caffeine after midday because it may prevent you from dropping off quickly.
- Eliminate all light from your bedroom; even the tiniest LED can interfere with sleep.
- Avoid alcohol – more on this below.
- Spray lavender on your pillow, or put a handful of dried lavender flowers inside your pillowcase.
- Try a natural supplement such as valerian or magnesium, which some people swear by for a good night’s sleep.
- Reading, fiction novels, in particular, help your brain relax and give it something other to think about than your pre-job interview nerves.
- Listening to a bedtime story has a similar effect to reading. There are many mobile phone apps featuring sleep stories designed to help you drift off.
Avoid Alcohol the Night Before Your Interview
People often turn to alcohol when they want to relax. A small glass or two of wine may indeed make you feel relaxed the night before an interview. However, as the alcohol levels in your bloodstream drop, it can cause anxiety levels to rise.
Dehydration due to alcohol can also cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Once you’re awake, it can be challenging to get back to sleep.
Given both of the above, alcohol is probably something to avoid the evening before an interview. Particularly if you’re already concerned about how to calm interview nerves.
Meditate the Morning of your Job Interview
Cortisol levels are always highest in the morning, so meditation and deep breathing exercises can lower them. Starting the day by reducing your cortisol levels will make any interview jitters you feel more comfortable to manage throughout the day. Practising meditation daily can increase your emotional intelligence and make your emotions generally easier to manage.
There are many mobile phone apps to help with meditation, and most have a free trial. You can also find videos on YouTube and meditation podcasts on Spotify.
Practising deep breathing exercises can also help you while you’re in your interview. The moment you feel like your stress levels are rising, take a deep breath. This will increase the oxygen levels and help you think more clearly.
A Few Final Words on Calming Pre Interview Nerves
It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous before an interview. Although we hope after reading the above, you feel better able to manage your pre-interview jitters and exercise a little emotional intelligence.
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