How to: deal with stress in an interview

So, you’ve finally landed an interview for your dream job. But what now?

Chances are you’re feeling slightly apprehensive about the big day, as every nightmare scenario plays out in your head, whether it’s ‘What if I forget everything I’ve ever learned in my entire life when I’m asked a question?’, ‘what if I trip on the way in and fall flat on my face’, or ‘what if I get lost on the way there, lose one of my shoes and get rained on?’ Sure, they may be unlikely scenarios, but that doesn’t stop you from worrying.

To help you officially de-stress, here are some of the best ways to battle interview nerves and make sure you stay confident, calm, and collected (and/or dry) on the big day…

Relax, breathe, and take your time

So you’ve arrived at an interview filled with nerves; your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy – you may also have been listening to Eminem on the way, but we digress – to put it simply, interviews are a scary ordeal. But whilst anxiousness is inevitable, it can be controlled with a few simple words – Breathe. Relax. And, Repeat.

With this in mind, pay attention to your body language (ensuring you’re maintaining eye contact, are sitting up straight, and resisting the urge to fidget) slow your speech down, and take the time to think through your answers before you say them. Pausing for thought is always a good idea.

It’s also important to focus on the positives to help you relax. You’ve been invited to an interview for a reason. You’ve obviously done something right, and the good news is, they already like you, so awkward interview moments aside, what could go wrong?
Even if you aren’t offered the job, there are many ways to take interview rejection as a great opportunity to learn and improve.

Nail your interview answers

Many people make the mistake of trying to ’wing it’ when it comes to interviews.
However, even if you feel as though the ‘wild risk taker’ approach works best for you, struggling to respond to a question you haven’t prepared for won’t do anything for your stress levels. More importantly, it won’t get you the job.

So avoid awkward silences by preparing potential answers a few days in advance. That way you’ll have a clear, unstressed head to store all your newfound knowledge, and all you’ll have to worry about the night before will be a quick refresh and an early night.

Think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation

Interviews are often just as much about finding out whether you’re a good fit for the company as they are about skills and experience. And despite all the difficult interview questions that might come up, never underestimate the importance of compatibility.

With this in mind, try to act naturally whilst maintaining a good level of professionalism. Avoid reeling off a sequence of memorized interview answers, and instead try to remember at least five skills, or areas of experience you have that make you a right for the role, and weave them into your answers naturally.

After all, it’s a two-way conversation – not an episode of Question Time. Also, nobody wants to interview a robot and/or the internet.

However, there is also such a thing as too natural.

Remember that your interviewers are actually human

Forget about the formalities and remember: your interviewer/s are just human*
So, chances are, they might be nervous too. Imagining them as infallible bastions of professional perfection is often the root of a large share of interview jitters – and can be avoided.

A few mind-easing facts for you: they are able to feel human emotions (who knew?) and are often understandably aware of interviewees being slightly anxious on the day. They also understand that people sometimes make mistakes, and won’t judge you if you slip up once or twice as a result of nerves.

There will, however, be a limit. Anywhere upwards of 100 and you might be on your own…

Don’t overdo it with the caffeine intake

Drinking approximately 17 mugs of coffee directly before an interview might seem like a great idea at the time, but a caffeine overload will often have the opposite effect, and only end up making you shakier than ever. Let’s face it, the last thing you want is to be frantically fidgeting in front of your interviewers, while they assume you’re simply not interested enough in the role to concentrate.
Caffeine also increases your heart rate and can add to the sweaty palm syndrome we mentioned earlier, and you definitely don’t need these things to be amplified. Instead, get an early night before the big day and make sure you’re fully rested and energized without the overreliance on beverages to give you a buzz. Remember: energy drinks are not your friend.

Final thoughts

The main thing to remember about keeping calm during an interview is: don’t stress about being stressed, or you’ll just get more stressed.
As long as you’ve done enough interview preparation beforehand, and you follow these simple tips on the day, we have no doubt that your irrational interview fears will be a thing of the past.
If not? Hey, there are always umbrellas…