6 Ways to Soothe Job Interview Jitters

Do you get nervous and anxious before a job interview? These tips will help calm pre-interview nerves.

By + More

Alison Green
Do you get nervous and anxious before a job interview? Here are six ways to fight off interview nerves and jitters.

1. Remember that they think you’re qualified. The fact that they set up an interview means that they’ve already determined that you’re sufficiently qualified that there’s a very good chance that you might be the best person for the job.

[See 21 things hiring managers wish you knew.]

2. Realize that they’ve never seen a “perfect” candidate. If you think your competition is out there giving  flawless interviews, please know that they’re not. No one gives a “perfect” interview, and you don’t need to strive for that. You’re just aiming to give a good interview that conveys a reasonable sense of what you’d be like to work with on this job day to day.

3. Know that you have power here too. Part of the point of the interview is to allow you to collect your own information and decide if you even want this job or these coworkers.

[See what hiring managers are looking for.]

4. Pretend you’re a consultant going into a business meeting. Think of the employer as a potential business partner and try to find out as much information as you can about the organization, the work, and how you might be able to fill their needs. Think of the interview as a collaboration where you’re trying to figure out if working together makes sense—not a one-way interrogation by someone who holds all the cards,

5. Figure out what the thing is that you dread the most and rehearse how you’d handle it if it happened. Whether it's having to answer a silly question about what kind of tree you’d be if you were a tree or getting asked about the job from which you were fired, whatever it is, decide exactly how you’re going to answer it, and practice the heck out of that answer. Rehearsing your answer out loud over and over will take a lot of the anxiety out of it, and you'll be less likely to stumble if the question comes up in the interview.

[Find more interview advice at U.S.News Careers.]

6. Last, if you’re worried you’re not qualified, consider your self-awareness a good thing. If you’re worried you’re really not the right person for the job, decide that the interview is going to be your information session, so you can find out. By the end of the interview, if you’re still feeling unqualified, you’re probably right—and thus this isn’t a job you want (because you don’t want a job you’re going to struggle in). And that’s OK—you’re qualified for other things, just not this. Don’t talk your way into a situation you’ll regret!

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development. She now teaches other managers how to manage for results.