How to Overcome Job Interview Nerves

Interview NervesGlossophobia. That’s the fear of public speaking. Symptoms include excessive sweating, chills and cold feet, heart pounding, and upset stomach. Seventy-five percent of people are estimated to experience it, at least as some level.  Percentagewise, more people are afraid of public speaking than of death. 

Whether it’s experienced in a job interview or at a presentation, you don’t have to be a passive victim.

You may not be able to make this feeling go away entirely. That’s okay. This stressful response can happen to anyone. Some of the best actors and public speakers in the world experience the same anxiety before a big event. In fact, this stress and anxiety can actually be a good thing.

You know when an athlete, “gets pumped up,” before a big game? He is trying to artificially create the stress response that you get naturally.

This stress response is sometimes called, “fight-or-flight.” Your body is releasing adrenaline so that you have more energy and become more alert and ready for action. Unfortunately, when you are sitting around waiting for your next job interview, you may not know what to do with all that energy. You must learn to channel it.

When athletes are in the zone, they have that same surge of stress response, and are able to focus it on their performance. That’s why you always see Olympic athletes stuffed in some room somewhere listening to music before competition. They are channeling their energy.  You can do the same.


There are several techniques you can use to focus this energy.

First, focus on the job ahead of you. Think about the main points you want to convey during the interview. Anticipate potential questions. Then envision yourself successfully responding. Imagine yourself asking specific questions, and the interviewer’s positive response to them. In short, review what you want to do, and envision yourself being successful while you do it.

Second, believe in your message. When people are fighting for causes they believe in, their passion helps them to overcome their nerves. You too can embrace passion. Believe in how this job will benefit you. Recognize the opportunity you have, and believe that this opportunity is worth fighting for.

Believe in your ability to deliver on the job. You have the talent to perform, or you wouldn’t have even made it to the job interview.  Prove it in the interview. Don’t let your nerves cause you to give up without a fight.

Third, take back control of your body. Concentrate on your breathing by keeping it deep and slow. Calmly breathe in for a slow count to five, then slowly breathe out for the same five-count. Do this for a full two minutes. Move your body to a confident position. Sit up straight and tall. Let your head match and be straight and forward. Move your hands into the power-pose. Let your finger-tips touch and push your palms apart.

Fourth, try to break the tension. Smile to yourself. Think of a funny situation and have a private laugh. Before you walk in, do the ‘hokey pokey’ or ‘shake it out’. In the waiting room, look around you and try to find humor in the situation. For instance picture every person in the room being a type of dog and what that dog would look.

Finally, never let the nerves be an excuse to under-prepare for your interview. Never say, “why bother trying? I’m just going be a nervous wreck the minute I walk through the door.” Invest the time to prepare the right way, and you will find yourself like the athlete in the big game. Your mind will know what to do, and you will know what to say.