Ten tips on how to beat interview anxiety

2020 has seen its fair share of unprecedented change due to COVID-19. This year’s events have led to a wealth of employees being forced to face wage cuts, reduced hours and job redundancies.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and ongoing uncertainty surrounding employment, many are striving to climb onto the next step of their career ladders.

Preparing for and taking part in an interview can be a stress trigger for many of us. To help, we’ve compiled ten tips on how to beat interview anxiety. 

1.) Breathing exercises

Many of us have heard of meditation to help ease the symptoms of anxiety but might not have used this technique to prepare for an interview. Even if you have thoroughly researched the role, company and rehearsed common interview questions, interview anxiety can all too often creep in.

Meditation ahead of the interview does not mean having to light candles, lock yourself in a quiet room and sit on a yoga mat. Simple exercises, such as closing your eyes and counting your breathing can calm your pre-interview nerves.

Try the following breathing exercises to help distract your mind and feel calm and centred ahead of your interview:

  • Set a timer for two-three minutes
  • Close your eyes
  • Inhale through your nose for four seconds
  • Exhale for three seconds
  • Inhale for a further three seconds
  • Exhale for four seconds
  • Focus your mind on your breathing while slowly inhaling and exhaling

2.) Feel like a superhero

An effective technique to beat interview anxiety is to adopt the superhero posture. This is a power pose which can help to reduce stress and tackle anxiety. While this pose might not be appropriate in a face-to-face interview setting, it could be used if you’re interviewing over video or before a telephone conversation.

Stand up tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips in fists with your elbows facing outwards. Move your shoulders back and while your chin faces slightly upwards, take some deep breaths. This open posture projects feelings of power, helps to relieves stress and is a perfect stance to adopt ahead of your interview.

3.) Fuel your body

There can be nothing more tempting ahead of an interview than to drink gallons of coffee and other caffeine-filled drinks, particularly if you have left preparation to the last minute and find yourself cramming beforehand (we cover this below).

Ensure you avoid caffeine ahead of and during the interview, and instead sip at water throughout to help calm your nerves and stay hydrated. While you may have pre-interview jitters, ensure you eat something light before it starts. Not only will eating something small prevent your stomach from rumbling during your interview, but it will keep your senses sharp and help avoid you becoming lightheaded.

If your interview is later in the day, avoid eating too much of a hearty meal beforehand, as this could make you feel sluggish and lethargic.

4.) Preparation

One of the vital elements to help beat interview anxiety is to prepare properly. Nerves will be heightened if you know deep down that you aren’t ready for the interview questions, feel unprepared and have crammed the night before.

Instead, prepare for the interview as soon as you know the date. Research the organisation and the job role thoroughly and ensure you have read any supporting documents or tasks that have been sent to you ahead of time. Being well prepared and knowing what you intend to say in advance is sure to boost your confidence and help you impress on the day.

You could also ask close friends or family members to help you practice your answers. Whether you are taking to Skype, Teams or having your interview face to face, plan your outfit in advance and ensure it is hung up or laid out ready.

5.) Interview day exercise

If you’re wondering how to calm interview anxiety, a great technique is to sweat it out the morning of your interview. While you may not feel like it at first, your body and mind will thank you for it later. Setting time aside on your interview morning to exercise is an effective way to clear your head, ease any nerves and release feel-good endorphins at the same time.

While no-one is expecting you to run a marathon on interview morning (unless this is your passion), whatever exercise you do will be beneficial to your body and mind, and help you tackle each of those all-important interview questions. Whether it’s a home yoga session, visit to the gym or run around the local park, whichever interview day exercise routine you choose will shift your focus and help ease your mind.

6.) Don’t worry, be happy

If you are feeling nervous, on-edge or worried while being faced with interview questions, a smile can completely change your outlook.

Even if you are feeling anxious or discouraged, forcing yourself to smile will trick your brain into thinking you are happy and work wonders throughout your interview. A good smile will not only help to hide your inner-most fears but will give your potential new employer an insight into your happy character, outlook and how well you could suit the team.

7.) Self-compassion

Positive affirmations and encouraging self-compassion will work wonders ahead of an interview. Mood-boosting statements such as ‘you can do this’ and ‘you are qualified for this’, will help you address the elements you are nervous about and help instil confidence before your interview.

Address yourself and your thoughts in the same way as you would a good friend, with kindness, compassion and encouragement. This will also help reduce anxiety and boost your confidence.

8.) Visualisation

Visualising yourself being a success during your interview is an effective tool which can calm your anxiety and make you feel in control of the situation.

Whether it is answering questions succinctly, impressing with pre-prepared questions or ensuring your body language is perfect, there are several visualisations that you could carry through to the real interview to help you.

If you have phone interview anxiety, try visualising a time you felt at ease answering questions and felt completely at ease.

Visualising a successful interview ahead of the real one is a quick and effective technique to help boost your confidence.

9.) Pace yourself

During an interview, it is common to find yourself short of breath, talking too fast and potentially stumbling over your words. This is a common symptom of anxiety taking over and can be alleviated by pacing yourself during the interview.

Slow down and take some extra time to think before answering the questions. Don’t be afraid to pause, especially if you are faced with technical questions. Interviewers expect you to pause and take some time and pacing yourself will help you consider each question and answer properly.

10.) Create an ultimate interview checklist

Creating an interview checklist will make you feel confident and help to beat interview anxiety. Take the time to research and make a note of all the necessary information, such as:

  • The interview location address
  • Name of interviewer and/or panel
  • Contact number in case of unexpected emergencies
  • Interview time
  • Travel time
  • Your questions
  • The main points you’d like to get across in the interview

Being armed with the necessary information on your checklist will help you feel prepared, instil self-confidence, and reduce pre-interview nerves.