Over the course of my career as a marketing leader, I’ve interviewed, hired, and rejected many job candidates.
I’ve also been a job candidate many times and have been put through the wringer on interviews ranging from a quick phone screen to a complete psych evaluation.
I’ve interviewed people who cannot form sentences because they’re so nervous, and I personally have interviewed so pregnant and so nervous that I showed up in a full-on flop sweat.
For those nervous about your next interview, I offer you my best insights from 10+ years of interviewing and observing people.
These insights are meant to help you calm your nerves before an interview.
Refer back to this post as often as you need to.
Your interviewer probably doesn’t know what they’re doing
Most of the time, the person interviewing you has had little to no training on how to interview job candidates.
Not all companies invest in managers and give them the tools they need to choose highly qualified candidates, so they wing it.
They go into the interview with a set of questions they think are the best to ask a candidate. Sometimes they’re good questions, and sometimes they’re not.
The best advice I can give you to help you shake off your interview jitters is to change your mindset.
Instead of freaking out about what you’re going to say, ease your mind by considering that you’re interviewer is just another nervous person trying to do their best too.
There is no such thing as being too excited
The first rule of interviewing is to show and tell the hiring manager that you want the job.
Tell them you want the job by ending the interview with, “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I would love to join your team in this position.”
Show them you want the job by being more enthusiastic about the position than anyone else.
Most people start the interview at a 10 on the energy scale and gradually make their way down to a 3 or a 4 by the end.
Don’t do that.
Keep your energy at a 9 or 10 the entire time, and you’ll blow the hiring manager away with your enthusiasm.
I know it may seem too extra, but it’s not.
It’s actually very refreshing to talk to someone who really wants a job.
Protip: I tell all of my Job Search Bootcampers to drink caffeine and jump around 20 minutes before an interview.
It helps get you pumped up and feeling good. Try it!
The interview will be over before you know it
One of my favorite mantras I repeat to myself when I’m about to do something I don’t want to do is, “This too shall pass.”
I like it because it grounds me in the present moment and alleviates the feeling that I’ll be in my personal hell forever.
Repeating the mantra to yourself before an interview will help you put the interview in the context of your whole day or week.
When you do that, you realize that the interview is a very short amount of time to be “on.”
And you can do anything for a very short amount of time.
If you don’t get the job, you will be fine
Rarely is a job interview a make or break moment in your life.
Of course, there are exceptions to this, but for most professionals, your entire life is not riding on the outcome of this one job interview.
It’s normal for you to get very excited thinking about the new possibilities this job will offer you in life.
Naturally, the more you obsess about the job and the interview, the more you start to think that you MUST get this job to have the life you want.
I’m here to say, take a beat.
Try to calm your nerves before an interview by taking the pressure off yourself to get an offer.
I have gotten so worked up over the outcome of an interview that I collapsed into the ugly cry when I found out that I didn’t get the job.
After figuring out that I needed to get a grip, I stopped doing that, and guess what, I got a great new job.
Control your instinct to go down the rabbit hole into thinking that your life will never move forward if you don’t get this job.
It takes time…sometimes a little bit, and sometimes a lot.
If you prepared for the interview, then you’re ahead of the competition
Most people do not prepare enough for interviews.
I have talked to candidates who didn’t bother reading the job description, let alone recent press releases or blog posts.
You wouldn’t believe how many people ask hiring managers about information COMPLETELY unrelated to the position they’re interviewing for.
The more you prepare for an interview, the more confident you will feel and the better your chances are of moving forward in the interview process.
You don’t know who you’re up against in an interview, so the best way to get a leg up on the competition is to out prepare them.
To do that, you need to commit to a minimum of 2-3 hours per job to prepare for the interview.
You might think that sounds like a lot of time, but it could mean the difference between you moving on to the next round or not.
If you need help with preparation, sign up here.
There are a lot of looney tunes out there
People say and do some crazy shit during interviews.
They show up late, or cancel at the last minute, or they spend 10 minutes answering the first question.
The list goes on.
I once had a person tell me that they were only interviewing for my position so that I would recommend them for a higher-level position on my colleague’s team.
Ummmm, what? Bye!
You don’t know exactly who you’re up against when it comes to interviewing, but you can be sure that your competition is not as perfect as you may think they are.
In general, we tend to think that we are up against the most perfect job candidate.
In reality, the other person is just like you.
Nervous, flawed, and beatable.
Do your absolute best, and you have nothing to worry about.
Use cyclic sighing to calm your nervous system
Recently I started listening to this neuroscience podcast.
One of the things that I’ve learned and applied in my own life is this idea of cyclic sighing for managing stress and anxiety.
The concept is that when you’re feeling totally amped up and short of breath, take two short breaths in through your nose and then one long exhalation out through your mouth.
I started using this during my workouts to improve my performance, and it turns out that it works. Yay science!
Now I use this technique during tense moments at work, and it’s definitely helped me take control of my breathing so that I stay calm.
If you’re getting close to your interview time and you’re feeling your heart rate start to speed up, try this breathing technique to calm your nerves.
Get help to calm your nerves before an interview
Interviewing is the part of the job search that everyone dreads.
You are not alone in your panic, and you can get through it.
I talk to so many people who are miserable in their jobs and want to leave, but the idea of having to interview scares them into staying.
If you are one of those people, know that there is help available to you.
One session with me can help you get the confidence you need to calm your nerves before an interview and feel really good about your prospects for getting a job offer.