Calming Job Interview Nerves: Tips and Tricks for Staying Cool and Confident

Calming Job Interview Nerves: Tips and Tricks for Staying Cool and Confident - Style Nine to Five

Job interviews are nerve-wracking experiences for many people. The pressure to perform well, the fear of saying the wrong thing, and the uncertainty of the outcome all contribute to heightened anxiety levels. But, with the right strategies and mindset, it’s possible to conquer job interview nerves and present yourself confidently. 

In this guide, we’ll explore effective techniques to calm your nerves before and during a job interview, ensuring you perform at your best and leave a lasting impression on your potential employer.

Understanding Job Interview Nerves

Is it normal to be nervous in a job interview? Absolutely! Start by acknowledging that feeling nervous before a job interview is perfectly normal. You’re not alone in your nerves—93 percent of us experience interview anxiety.

A certain level of nervousness can even be beneficial, as it indicates that you care about the opportunity and want to perform well. But when nerves become overwhelming, they can hold you back from articulating your skills and qualifications and stand in the way of showing your interviewer that you’re the best candidate for the job.

Job interview nerves often stem from a fear of the unknown. It’s common to worry about being judged, flubbing your answers, or not meeting the interviewer’s expectations. Past negative interview experiences and self-doubt can also amplify feelings of anxiety. Fortunately, there are some easy strategies for how to calm job interview nerves so you can show up and land your dream job.

How To Calm Your Nerves Before a Job Interview

One of the most effective ways to calm job interview nerves is taking your time to thoroughly prepare. Understanding the job role and practicing common interview questions can help alleviate anxiety by increasing your confidence in your abilities. Here are some additional strategies to help you prepare mentally and emotionally:

Research the Company 

You’ve already done some research on the company to create your cover letter, now dig even deeper for your interview prep. Google the company and look for news stories. Check out their LinkedIn and other social media accounts for posts about new products or services, new hires, or other developments. If they have a blog on their website, take a look at the most recent articles. 

This will give you a full understanding of the company’s history, culture, values, and recent accomplishments. This knowledge will not only impress your interviewer but also helps you determine if the company is the right fit for you.

Know the Job Description 

Review the job description carefully and identify the key skills and qualifications required for the role. Prepare examples from your past experiences that demonstrate how you meet these requirements. For example, if a job requirement is having strong analytical skills, prepare an example you can provide about a time you used data to make a decision in your current role.

Use the job description to flag any questions you have about the role and use your interview as an opportunity to ask your interviewer to clarify. Not only will you get your questions answered but asking thoughtful questions during the interview makes it more of a two-way conversation which can help you feel less like you’re being grilled.  

Practice Interview Questions 

Anticipate common interview questions and practice your responses aloud. Consider recording yourself or conducting mock interviews with a friend or family member to simulate the interview environment. Look for signs of nervousness like fidgeting or using a lot of “ums” or “uhs” in your speech. 

Note any interview questions that tripped you up and spend some time preparing answers. You don’t have to recite a script for tough interview questions word for word, but spending additional time planning your answers will boost your confidence when you get into the interview. 

Visualize Success 

Take some time to visualize yourself succeeding in the interview. Imagine yourself confidently answering questions, smiling and speaking naturally, engaging with the interviewer, and ultimately securing the job offer. Positive visualization can help boost your confidence and reduce anxiety. 

You can even channel Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce and visualize an alter ego of your own who’s calm, cool, and collected with boss vibes. When it comes time for the interview, step into those confident shoes to conquer your nerves.

Focus on Your Accomplishments

Remind yourself of your past successes and accomplishments. Reflecting on your achievements can bolster your self-confidence and remind you of your value as a candidate. Re-read your resume and cover letter for a refresher on how you spoke about yourself, which is what landed you the interview in the first place. 

Jot down a few career highlights and wins that you can take into the interview and speak about when asked questions about your past roles.

Practice Relaxation Techniques 

Incorporate relaxation techniques into your pre-interview prep—think deep breathing, meditation, grounding your feet on the floor, or muscle relaxation. These practices can help calm your nerves and center your focus before the interview.

Alternatively, some people like to blow off steam before an interview. Do a workout the morning of your interview to release nervous energy or blast your favorite hype song and have an “I’ve got this” dance party in your living room before you join a virtual interview. Think of this strategy as a way to physically shake the interview nerves off so you can emerge energetic and ready to rock.

7 Ways To Control Your Nerves During the Interview

Even with thorough preparation, it’s normal to experience nerves during the interview itself. Use these tips and strategies to stay calm and composed in the moment:

1. Take Deep Breaths

If your nerves are escalating, take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process several times until you feel calmer. If you feel your nerves getting the best of you, pause before answering the next question to take a deep breath and regain your control.

2. Focus on the Present Moment

Instead of dwelling on past mistakes or getting ahead of yourself and worrying about future outcomes, focus on the present moment. Silence distracting thoughts by listening attentively to the interviewer’s questions and taking your time to formulate thoughtful responses.

3. Use Positive Body Language

Your body language can influence both your mood and the interviewer’s perception of you. Sit up straight, make eye contact, and remember to smile! These actions not only convey confidence and show off your positive personality but also help reduce feelings of nervousness. 

4. Use Positive Self-Talk

Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations to boost your confidence and self-belief. Remind yourself of your strengths, qualifications, and readiness for the role. Remember the career highlights you reflected on during your interview prep? Keep those top of mind or even have them written down and bring those notes to the interview (yes, it’s totally ok to have notes!)

5. Slow Down Your Speech

Speaking too quickly can be a sign of nervousness. Take your time when answering questions and speak slowly and clearly to ensure your message is conveyed effectively. If you find yourself jumping into quickly answering the interviewer’s questions, remember to take pauses to breathe, take a sip of water, and ground yourself in your chair to give yourself a little time to slow things down.

6. Accept Imperfection

Accept that it’s okay to make mistakes or not have all the answers. Interviewers understand that no candidate is perfect, and they’re often more interested in how you handle challenges than in flawless responses. 

You can even come right out and admit that you’re feeling nervous. Saying something like “Sorry, I’m a little nervous because I’m so excited about this role” is a great way to show your human side and put a positive spin on your nerves. Then focus on moving things in a better direction in the next question rather than dwelling on any flubbed answers. 

7. Engage in Active Listening

Demonstrate your interest and engagement by actively listening to the interviewer’s questions and responding thoughtfully. Asking clarifying questions or seeking additional information can also help alleviate nerves by shifting the focus away from yourself. 

Asking the interviewer to repeat or rephrase a question is a great way to engage and turn the interview into a two-way conversation while giving you a little extra time to think of your answer.

Recovering from Nervous Moments 

Despite your best efforts, it’s possible to experience moments of heightened nervousness during a job interview. If you find yourself stumbling or feeling overwhelmed, don’t panic. Instead, try these tactics to regain your composure and get back on track:

Pause and Take a Breath 

If you feel yourself becoming flustered or losing your train of thought, take a brief pause to collect your thoughts. Use this time to take a few deep breaths and refocus your attention on the present moment. 

It’s even ok to tell the interviewer that you need a moment to think, giving you a chance to take a beat and compose yourself. Saying something like “That’s a great question, let me think for a second,” is an easy way to buy yourself some time to stop and breathe.

Ask for Clarification

If you’re unsure about a question or need a few seconds to gather your thoughts, don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify the question. This demonstrates your commitment to understanding the topic and ensures that you provide a thoughtful response. 

You could phrase it by saying something like “Would you mind rephrasing that? I want to make sure that I’m fully understanding what you’re asking.” This type of engagement gives you more time to think and helps ensure that you’re giving an accurate answer to their question.

Redirect the Conversation

If you feel yourself struggling with a particular question, pivot the conversation to a topic where you feel more confident. For example, you could highlight a relevant experience or accomplishment that showcases your qualifications for the role. 

Draw on your past work experiences to tell the interviewer about a time you were faced with a challenge and share how you overcame it, which can help lead the conversation in a new direction.

Maintain Your Positive Body Language

Even if you’re feeling nervous, maintain that open and confident body language to convey professionalism and poise. Avoid fidgeting or slouching, which can undermine your credibility. Take a moment to readjust your posture, get centered, and most importantly, smile!

Showing your interviewer your upbeat personality with a smile can go a long way in creating a great impression.

Practice Self-Compassion 

Remember that everyone experiences nerves from time to time, and a momentary lapse in confidence doesn’t define your worth as a candidate. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you’re doing the best you can in a challenging situation.

Remember that the other candidates were likely nervous too and probably made a few mistakes of their own. 

End Graciously

No matter how it went, make sure to close your interview on a positive note. Thank the interviewer for their time and show your enthusiasm by letting them know you’re even more excited about the role after your conversation.

Ending things on a high note gives a great final impression and helps put a positive spin on the situation as a whole.

The Bottom Line

Job interview nerves are a common experience for many candidates, but they don’t have to dictate the outcome of your interview. By taking a proactive approach to preparation, practicing relaxation techniques, and staying focused on the present moment, you can manage your nerves and present yourself confidently to potential employers. 

Remember that confidence is a skill that can be cultivated over time, and with practice, you’ll become a pro at navigating job interviews with poise and self-assurance. The next time you find yourself feeling nervous before an interview, take a deep breath, remind yourself of your strengths, and step into the meeting with confidence—you’ve got this!

Struggling with preparing for an upcoming interview? Try Style Nine to Five’s Interview Prep service where Founder Christie Lohr works with you to practice answering questions and offers expert tips on acing your interview.


Jeanine Gordon is a freelance content marketer with a passion for creating stellar strategies for global brands and small businesses alike, specializing in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.