You’ve studied every possible interview question there is out there. You’ve researched the company backwards and forwards. You’ve been awaiting and preparing for this moment for what feels like years, and now it’s practically here.
Except, you’re an anxious wreck. Maybe it’s a few hours away, maybe it’s only minutes, but regardless, you want to do something to get yourself back in cool and collected mode before it happens.
Good thing you’re reading this, because we have 12 things you can try right now to calm all those interview nerves—one of them is bound to work.
1. Go for a Walk
Fresh air does everyone a load of good. If you have a phone interview, take yourself for a stroll around the block (or, if you’re feeling ambitious, a run to release all those healthy endorphins). If it’s in person, take five minutes before you enter the building to walk around and clear your head.
2. Practice the S.T.O.P Method
According to executive coach Chris Charyk, this is the ultimate mental trick to tackle any stressful situation. It goes like this:
- Stop what you’re doing and focus on your thoughts.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Observe what’s going on in your body, emotions, and mind, and why you’re feeling them.
- Proceed with an intention to incorporate what you observed in your actions.
The importance of this technique is to slow down and be deliberate not just in the things you do, but the feelings you let take over. It reminds you that you have the power to banish your own fears, doubts, and nerves in even the most pressure-cooker situations.
3. Prepare for the Worst
Whatever your biggest fear is, there’s always an answer for it. Lettuce in your teeth? Pack a compact mirror and floss in your bag (among these other essentials you should always bring to an interview). Worried about not having a good response to a tricky question? Be proactive and learn how to cover your tracks when you don’t know an answer. By thinking ahead, you can truly rest assured knowing that even if the worst happens, you’re more than ready to handle it.
4. Make an Interview Cheat Sheet
Just as important as preparing for the worst is preparing, period. The more you have set to go, the less you have to worry about. So, start a note on your phone and jot down all the necessities—the building address, the hiring manager’s name, the time, the three main things you’d like to get across in the interview, your questions, whatever else you can think of. Then, pull that baby out right before you get called in and you’ll feel so confident you’ve got it all covered.
5. Plan Something for Afterwards
So maybe you’re not looking forward to nervous-sweating for two hours in front of a complete stranger, but what’s something you’d be excited to power through this for? A nice meal? A massage? A date with your dog and your favorite Netflix show? Whatever it is, prepare for it to be ready for you when you’re done—this way, you have something awesome to look forward to and focus on, instead of your jitters.
6. Eat a Good Breakfast (or Lunch)
A great interview starts with a great meal. For some, this means going the healthy route, something full of those energy-boosting antioxidants. For others, it could be indulging in your favorite comfort foods. There’s no right answer—just make it right for you (and make it food—no one can give solid interview answers when their stomach’s grumbling).
7. Give Yourself a Pep Talk
It’s not crazy to talk to yourself—it’s smart (and scientifically proven to help motivate yourself). Tell yourself all the things you need to hear: you’re smart, you’re qualified for this role, you’re going to kill it. Say it out loud (that makes it really stick) and say it with confidence. Just make sure you find a quiet place to do it.
8. Call an (Uplifting) Friend
Nothing’s better than the encouragement of a caring, positive friend or family member. Many times I’ve dialed my mother before a big, stressful event, and it makes all the difference (and I’m not ashamed I’m still doing it at as an adult). Basically, if you can’t give yourself the pep talk you need, let someone else do it for you.
9. Listen to Music
Or, whatever else pumps you up (a podcast, a speech by your idol). This way, you can fill your head with energy and excitement, rather than negative thoughts.
It’s no secret smiling makes you feel more confident, even if you fake it, so what’s the harm in trying it?
I know the answer: none. And even better, if you hold it long enough, you’ll make the hiring manager like you more.
11. Use Your Stress as Adrenaline
Nervousness and adrenaline are highly correlated—that’s why studies show that getting pumped up instead of calmed down (saying “I’m excited” instead of “I’m calm”) before public speaking produces better results.
So if you’re shaking and your blood’s rushing—good. Go with it. As Muse writer and consultant Mark Slack says, “By reframing your nervous energy as excited energy, you can still feel amped up—just in a way that helps you perform better instead of a way that hinders you.”
12. Remember It’s Just a Conversation
Finally, remind yourself that you’re not jumping out of an airplane, or battling a shark. You’re facing one, maybe two people, and having a nice conversation about your career. Muse writer Richard Moy, in his article “How to Keep Your Cool When You Interview With Your Dream Company,” put it perfectly: “As much as you want to work for them, they’re also really hoping you’re the one.”
So, not all the pressure’s on you. Remember that this isn’t just going to be them grilling you—you have questions you need answered, and they’re probably nervous about making a good impression, too.
Now go out there and kick some butt. And if you find a trick that works wonders for you, let me know on Twitter!