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Tips to help with interview nerves

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Do interviews make you feel nervous?

If so then that’s perfectly natural. We often feel that interviews are a test – both of what we know and how we behave. How about thinking about it from the employer’s point of view? They have a problem – they have a job which they need someone to do, and a need to fill that vacancy.  The great news is that if you have been selected for interview they already believe you can do the job (on paper at least). All that is standing between you and your new job is answering some questions. Sounds simple? Assuming you have done your question preparation, chosen your interview outfit, have scrubbed up and are ready to go, I would firstly encourage you just to be yourself – be natural. Do make an effort to smile even if you feel nervous; we all look better wearing a smile!  To further help you prepare here are some tips for the day to help you deal with those inevitable nerves:

  • You can work with your breath to calm your nervous system. If you are sitting waiting to go into the interview, you can practise taking five deep mindful breaths and imagine you are pushing the breath out through the soles of your feet.
  • You can also calm yourself by extending your out-breath, making it much longer than your in-breath. Try breathing in to the count of 4 and taking a slow breath out to the count of 7 or 8.
  • To help with self-confidence prior to your interview there is a great TED talk on You Tube by Amy Cuddy entitled ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’. In this she teaches a technique called power posing (it involves placing your hands on your hips as though you were Wonder Woman!). In the clip they show how it really helps interview candidates. Watch it
  • You can practise saying affirmations in your head – silently repeating phrases such as ‘I can do this’ or ‘I can handle this’ is very empowering.
  • Be kind to yourself during the interview. If you feel that you didn’t answer a question very well, then forgive yourself and move on. Don’t be afraid to take your time to think of an answer or ask the interviewer to repeat the question. Always remember – you are doing the best you can.
  • If you feel very nervous the night before or on the morning of the interview it can be helpful to acknowledge to yourself, ‘I feel really nervous about this interview.’ It can also help you to take a few moments to reflect that most people feel anxious in such situations – you are not alone. You can then send yourself any qualities that you feel might help you. Try saying to yourself, ‘may I be confident’, ‘may I feel relaxed,’ ‘may I feel calm’. You can experiment with this, using whatever words feel right to you.

Believe in yourself and your ability to do the job. If you don’t believe you can get the job, then this will come across in the way that you answer the questions and in your body language.

There is no point in worrying about the other candidates or things you cannot control. Keep your preparation to things within your control such as having answers ready for common interview questions and making sure you do as much research as you can about the organisation.

Finally – organise something nice for after the interview. Perhaps meet a friend for coffee or make your favourite dinner. Celebrate having attended the interview no matter how you feel it went. Good luck!


by Ashley Watson, Smart Works Interview Trainer Volunteer and Founder of  Ashley Watson Therapies


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