How To Relax Before A Job Interview (With Examples)

By Matthew Zane - Dec. 11, 2020

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There’s no question about it – interviewing for a job is a nerve-wracking experience. You don’t want to come off as a jittery mess to your interviewers, though. After all, first impressions are critical during a job interview (which doesn’t help with the nerves, we know).

Remaining calm and collected during your interview will help you exude confidence, an attractive quality in a job candidate. Your answers will be sharper, and the back-and-forth of conversation will flow more easily.

In this article, we’ll cover the best tips for relaxing before an interview so that you can step into the room without a worry in the world.

Why Do We Become Nervous Before a Job Interview?

We become nervous before a job interview because there is a lot on the line. If you’re currently out of work, then you may feel like your livelihood depends on how you perform at this meeting (feeling relaxed yet?) And if you’re trying to land a better job, you might feel your career trajectory depends on this interview.

Ultimately, our bodies don’t understand the difference between the threat of a lion attack and an interview – they treat both as a threat and react the same in either situation. This comes with a host of unwelcome reactions: sweaty palms, dry mouth, flushed face, increased heart rate, shaky voice, fidgety hands or feet, etc. Your body is gearing up for the fight of its life (or getting ready to run like hell).

The first step to relaxing before an interview is altering your perspective. Remember, this is just a job interview, not a fight to the death. And while your livelihood does depend on getting a job, it doesn’t depend on you getting this job necessarily.

Why Is Relaxing Before an Interview Important?

Relaxing before an interview is critical because interviewers will pick up on your nonverbal cues and notice if you’re visibly distressed. Now, most people understand and can forgive a bit of jitteriness, but when your nerves are so fraught that everyone can tell, that doesn’t bode well for you.

Most jobs come with a bit of stress, and interviewers will wonder if your interview nerves indicate that you’ll be a ball of anxiety every time a challenging project comes your way. On the other hand, a candidate who projects confidence will always appear stronger than an equally qualified candidate whose nerves are on display.

Besides making a good impression, relaxing before an interview will make you feel better after the interview is finished. You can be sure that you did everything you could, asked and answered all the questions the way you wanted, and didn’t blow it on the interview’s presentation aspect. Now you can just let the chips fall where they may without kicking yourself for coming off the wrong way.

20 Tips for Relaxing Before a Job Interview

These tips are meant to help you brainstorm ideas that work for you. Try all of them, or pick a few that work best for your personality type. There’s no right or wrong answer for relaxation, after all. These tips are listed somewhat progressively, meaning you should do the first three well before the interview, while the rest focus on what to do in the moments leading up to the interview.

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  1. Prepare. There’s a whole bunch of stuff you should do to prepare for an interview. Do all that stuff before the day of the actual interview. Research the company and your interviewers, practice answers to commonly asked interview questions, and prepare any materials you need to bring with you.

    Remember that while you can’t prepare for every eventuality, you can prepare for things within your control. You’ll feel so much better walking into the interview room if you’ve done your homework.

  2. Perform a mock interview. Actors rehearse for a reason. The more times you practice something, the more natural you become at doing it.

    Get a friend to ask you common interview questions, practice your introductory spiel, and fix the key data points and anecdotes firmly in your mind. It’ll go a long way in making the interview feel like less of an ordeal once you’ve already done it.

  3. Eliminate unknowns. It’s impossible to prepare for every possible event. However, you can prepare for simple things that might be unknown unless you ask. For example, if you don’t know what sort of dress is expected or where exactly you’re meant to go in the office building, address those issues beforehand by calling HR and asking or confirming.

  4. Review, but stop researching. You did your homework on the company, and that’s great. But don’t spend the half-hour before your interview conducting last-minute research. If you want to go over your notes one more time, that’s fine. Just don’t add anything new to remember, or you’ll have too many things to juggle mentally.

  5. Eat a good meal. Look, we can tell you to eat healthy to make sure you don’t have to add a rumbly gut to your list of physical stress reactions. And there’s some good science behind eating a banana to calm shaky nerves. However, you want to walk in feeling contented, so if that means housing a Big Mac beforehand, go for it.

  6. Exercise. Remember how we discussed the way the body physically reacts to stress? Well, a lot of that is down to the adrenaline coursing through your veins, and one of the best ways to flush those out of your system is by exercising.

    The benefits don’t stop there, though. Exercising also causes your body to produce endorphins, which will boost your happiness and confidence. You can work out at the gym, do some yoga, or take a run the morning before the interview, but make sure to leave yourself time for a shower.
    Alternatively, you can just take a walk beforehand. Fresh air will do you a world of good.

  7. Arrive early. Arriving late is only going to compound your nervousness. Not only will you have one strike against you right off the bat, but you’ll also be more flustered if you’re late.

    The key here is not to arrive too early. You don’t want to put undue pressure on your interviewer. You want to walk in about ten minutes before the interview. If you’re any earlier than that, practice one of the tips below while you wait (before going in).

  8. Check your appearance. You’ve dressed for success, gotten your hair just right, and made sure there’s nothing between your teeth before you left the house. Great! Now check to make sure that your appearance is still on-point before walking into the actual interview. It’ll calm you down to know that you’re presenting well.

  9. Call a (supportive) friend or family member. Nothing works better to dispel your nerves than saying them out loud to a supportive friend or family member. Giving yourself a pep talk is all fine and well, but hearing someone else tell you how awesome you are is even better.

  10. Turn on some tunes. Baseball players have their favorite track play as they step up to the plate for a reason. Pump some music that makes you feel like a boss, or go for relaxing tunes to calm down. Whatever you think works best for you.

  11. Don’t stress about stressing. Anxiety can be a vicious cycle; don’t stress the fact that you’re stressed out. Recognize it as a normal reaction that everyone experiences. If interviews weren’t naturally stress-inducing, this article wouldn’t exist.

  12. Practice mindfulness. Being mindful is a great life skill in general. Stop and examine your thoughts and your body’s physical reactions, but don’t pass judgment on them. By gaining objective insight into what’s going on internally, you’ll start to see how much power you have to control yourself.

    This is much easier with practice, so the sooner you incorporate this method into your life, the better.

  13. Breath. Focusing on your breath is one aspect of mindfulness. When we’re anxious, we naturally take quick, shallow breaths, but that’s not the most efficient way to get oxygen into your blood. Deep, full inhalations will pump your body with oxygen, a natural relaxant. You’ll think more clearly and dispel some of those physical symptoms of stress simultaneously.

  14. Practice power poses. As you can tell by now, the human body is kind of stupid. It can easily be tricked. Forcing yourself to smile actually does make you happier. In the same vein, assuming powerful poses can make you feel more confident. We tend to think of our body language as a result of our emotions, but it’s a two-way street – your body language also affects your emotions.

    “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” Millard Fuller, Founder of Habitat for Humanity

  15. Unplug. Social media, political news, emails, or texts about other life-stressors – forget about all those things in the moments leading up to your interview. At best, you’ll introduce a distraction (which may help calm you down).

    However, at worst, you’ll become frazzled by a completely separate event, which is the last thing you need going into an interview.

  16. Visualize success. A positive mindset is critical for success in all areas of life. If you’re only thinking about the worst things that can happen, you’ll walk in trying to avoid blunders instead of trying to impress the interviewer(s) with your best qualities.

    Think happy thoughts. Imagine yourself answering each question confidently and expressing yourself perfectly. Athletes don’t visualize themselves missing shots or making errors before a big game, so why should you visualize yourself botching the interview?

  17. Remember why you were invited for an interview. Don’t picture the interviewer as a villain standing between you and the job. It’ll only compound the fight-or-flight responses your body produces if you perceive the interviewer as a threat.

    Instead, remember that you were invited for an interview because someone read your resume and thought you might make a great fit. The interviewer is a friend, not a foe; they just want to see if a relationship between you and the company would benefit both parties.

  18. Talk to yourself. Giving yourself a pep talk is a proven technique for getting over your interview nerves. Find a quiet place with a mirror, and address yourself by your name or using “you” statements.

    Tell yourself what a tremendous employee you are, how qualified you are, and remind yourself of your past achievements. It might sound crazy, but just like smiling can make you happier, telling yourself you’re confident can make you feel more confident.

  19. Alter your perspective. How you frame a situation alters how you’ll react to it. If you tell yourself this interview is the most important thing that’s ever happened in your life and failure will destroy all your hopes and dreams, then yea, you’re going to be pretty stressed.

    But if you tell yourself, “Hey, this is just a conversation between adults to determine whether my working here would be a good arrangement for both parties,” then the scope of the situation diminishes. Remind yourself that your interviewers are also probably anxious about making a good impression on you.

    Finally, redefine what you’re feeling – you’re not stressed out, you’re just excited!

  20. Plan something for after the interview. Hopefully, you’re feeling more relaxed about your interview already. You’re still not looking forward to it either. Plan something you can look forward to after the interview as a reward. It doesn’t matter if that’s going out for drinks with friends or curling up on the couch and binging Netflix. Regardless of how the interview goes, you’ll know the rest of your day will be great.

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Matthew Zane

Author

Matthew Zane

Matthew Zane is a teacher, writer, and world-traveler. He writes articles to help people at every stage of the career life cycle. He completed his masters in American Literature from Trinity College Dublin.

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