Keep interview nerves at bay

July 2011

Successful job interviewIt can be daunting to think that the job interview you’ve been invited to may be all that lies between you and the job you want.

The real thing can be even more challenging. Stress and nerves on the big day can really do their best to rock your boat. But with a little confidence and preparation, you can make a strong and positive impact when it matters most.

Prepare to win

From the moment you meet and greet your interviewer to the minute you shake hands and leave, what you say and the way you carry yourself will be judged. Perceptions about you are made almost immediately. But when you prepare your approach correctly you can stand out for all the right reasons.

We recommend you take time to prepare well before your interview. Research the role and company and get a really good feel of what’s expected from you. Being informed will give you an early sense of confidence and during the interview it will show a good understanding of the demands of the role and what’s expected from you.

First impressions

There are small things you can do from the start to feel confident and banish any interview fears. Looking sharp can always make a great first impression, but it’s not only appearances that matter. Always remain polite and professional, and greet your interviewer with a firm handshake.

As soon as you’re seated we also recommend you give your interviewer a printed out copy of your covering letter and CV. Where appropriate, your self picture too. This shows a good professional approach.

In your interview, try to make and maintain good eye contact throughout and listen attentively. This will make you relaxed, minimise your stress levels and put you in a perfect position to ask any relevant questions at the appropriate time.

Relaxation exercises

A positive frame of mind is essential to creating a confident outlook. Before your interview, try a few relaxation exercises.

Sit on a chair with your arms down at your side and gently shake out the stress from your arms, hands, legs and feet. Do this for 20 seconds and then sit still, close your eyes and get relaxed by thinking of positive things in your life or a special person.

As you do so, breathe deeply for two minutes to help you slow down your heartbeat, relax your body and feel a calm sense of you and your surroundings. Even if you’re stumbled by an awkward question during your interview, remain calm with deep breathing and stay focused on responding well and making a positive impact.


One of the best ways to minimise your nerves during the interview is by role playing the scene before the big day with a friend or family member. Always be aware of the impression you’re making. You can even make a list of all the things to do from the start, such as greeting, eye contact, breathing techniques and listening skills.

We also recommend that you swop roles, so you become the interviewer and get a good impression of what is expected and more importantly, what you can do to improve your chances of success.


To remain relaxed and in control in the interview, have a series of short questions prepared. It is quite common for interviewers to ask near the end of the interview if you have any questions you’d like to ask. This is the perfect time to show enthusiasm with an intelligent question or two. It also shows a good attitude and hunger for the role.

In general, an interview can be as good or bad as you want it to be. It’s all about you. With a positive attitude and mindset, you can not only remain calm and composed when it matters, but you can put yourself in the best position to bring out the best in you. Here are a few more tips to stay on top and in control.

  1. Research you: Before you attend any interview, make sure you re-read your covering letter and CV. This will give you a solid understanding of what the interviewer knows about you and may question you on.  
  2. Think positive: As you wait in reception to be called for interview, try closing your eyes for 20 seconds and use your deep breathing exercises to create a relaxed and positive mindset.
  3. Naturally you: Always be yourself in the interview. Be honest, polite and true to your strengths, skills and abilities. These are the things your interviewer will pick up on. It will also allow your natural personality and character to shine through. This is what the interview is all about. A company realising and knowing that they’ve landed the right person for the role.

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Keep a cool head: Interview nerves can be kept at bay - Courtesy of