Interviewing for a new job can be one of life’s most stressful challenges. Yet, by leaving our comfort zone and taking this fear head-on, we give ourselves the opportunity to launch a new career or land our dream job. Let’s discuss how to overcome job interview anxiety.
- Do Your Research on the Company
- Be Mindful of What You Eat or Drink Beforehand
- Consider Natural Stress Relief Supplements for Job Interview Anxiety
- Show Up Prepared
- Practice in the Mirror
- Remember Your Qualifications
- Utilize Calming Breathwork
- Focus on Your Reason “Why”
- Visualize Success
- Make a Genuine Connection with the Interviewer
- Smile and Use Positive, Open Body Language
- Use Effective Coping Mechanisms for Job Interview Anxiety
- Practice Makes Perfect
Like everyone, I’ve been anxious about job interviews in the past. To remedy this, I came up with some strategies for managing interview anxiety effectively.
These tips work so well, they helped me land one of the most competitive jobs in America!
How to Overcome Job Interview Anxiety
In 2016, I decided to apply for a job as flight attendant at a major U.S. airline. I was 23 years old and wanted to see the world, but I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
What I didn’t realize at the time was just how competitive this job interview really would be. In fact, the applicant acceptance rate to become a flight attendant is often more competitive than Harvard!
The day of the interview, I stepped into a conference room of one hundred people chosen from an applicant pool of many thousands. Anxiety set in as I scanned a room full of stunningly beautiful women and impeccably dressed men; I clearly didn’t fit in here.
Knowing that only a few of us would be selected for the job, I had to quickly overcome my job interview anxiety and put on my game-face; after all, my ticket to see the world depended on it.
Here are the steps I took to overcome my interview anxiety and land one of the most coveted jobs in the country.
Do Your Research on the Company
When applying for a new job, we always study up on the job itself – but how often do we take the time do research the company? If you don’t like being put on the spot, don’t leave any room to be caught off guard here. The last thing you want is to appear ignorant about the company you’re applying to.
You can usually learn everything you need to know from the company’s “about” page on their website. The year the company was founded, who the CEO is, their rate of growth – these are things every applicant should know. Referencing such facts during the interview (tactfully) can also give you an edge on the competition.
Be Mindful of What You Eat or Drink Beforehand
I drank a cup of coffee before my big job interview and soon wished I hadn’t. The combination of caffeine and nerves had me running to the bathroom every 10 minutes, and my stress was through the roof. I’ve since quit caffeine and have seen massive benefits from it. I won't ask you to quit, but I’d avoid it for an interview.
A poor diet can also cause anxiety for many people, so choose your breakfast wisely. For me, it’s the simple carbs. Too many buttered croissants and I turn into a jitterbug; tolerable on most days, but not ideal for an interview. Take some time to learn what your body responds best to.
Any other “habit” drugs like alcohol or nicotine should be avoided whenever possible. The smell alone will hurt your chances of landing the job, and these substances put tremendous stress on the body and will worsen anxiety in the long-run.
Consider Natural Stress Relief Supplements for Job Interview Anxiety
Since I mentioned avoiding the cigarettes and alcohol, it’s only right that I offer you some alternatives. There are a number of natural stress relief supplements that can work great for job interview anxiety.
Take some time to learn about my favorite options and consider which could work best for you. These are the options I recommend to my own family members.
Show Up Prepared
We’ve all heard of Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
While I don’t want to be pessimistic, I do think it’s important to plan your day so you can adapt if something does go wrong:
- Get a nice haircut beforehand to help you feel your most confident
- Lay out your best clothes the night before (pre-washed and ironed!)
- Study up and prepare answers to common questions asked of that role
- Bring a pen and an extra copy of your resume and cover letter
- Put your phone on silent as you arrive to avoid any awkward interruptions
- Leave home early enough to be on time even if your car breaks down
Practice in the Mirror
Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your introduction, an “elevator pitch” of yourself, and answers to common questions you expect to be asked. The first time you rehearse these things, you may feel a bit shaky and unconfident; the fifth time, you’ll probably be crushing it.
Remember Your Qualifications
It’s easy to let imposter syndrome work against us here. That’s why it’s so important to continually remind yourself of your qualifications.
If you’ve got an in-person interview coming up, that means you were qualified enough to be offered the interview in the first place! The employer has already read your resume and cover letter, and they’ve determined that you have the base qualifications. Don’t sell yourself short!
Utilize Calming Breathwork
When we’re feeling anxious, we have a tendency to lose control of our breathing. Irregular breathing patterns, shallow breathing, or over-breathing (hyperventilating) can all worsen anxiety symptoms.
By taking a few moments to reset our breath cycle, we can drastically decrease interview anxiety. Techniques like 478 breathing work great:
- Breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds
- Exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds
- Repeat several times as needed
To train your breathwork skills even faster, an anxiety-reducing device like CalmiGo can help calm you down in a pinch.
Focus on Your Reason “Why”
Stepping outside of our comfort zone may be scary, but there’s always a reason why we are doing it in the first place. When the going gets tough, it’s important to focus on your “why.”
What is it about this job that is so exciting to you that you’re willing to risk feeling anxious?
- Could this be the first step in a new and exciting career?
- Will the big salary allow you to purchase your dream home?
- Does a remote job allow you to travel or spend more time with your family?
- Maybe this is an opportunity to pursue your passion and truly feel fulfilled?
Whenever anxiety creeps up on us, it’s always helpful to look for the light at the end of the tunnel and remember our “why.”
When we’re feeling anxious, it’s usually because we’re living in the future rather than the present. Although nothing is currently going wrong, we mistake the worst-case scenario for the most likely scenario. Thus begins the vicious cycle that is anticipatory anxiety.
Rather than dwelling on and worrying about what could go wrong, focus on everything that could go right. Visualize yourself walking into the interview confidently, having a great connection with the interviewer, crushing the interview, and landing the job. Visualize how great it will feel to finally enjoy the fruits of your labor when all is said and done.
“A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary."
Make a Genuine Connection with the Interviewer
Sometimes, when people are feeling anxious or panicky, I recommend they talk to a friend. Just the simple act of engaging and conversing with another human being can help with anxiety. Throughout the course of a good conversation, we tend to loosen up, relax, laugh, and feel better overall.
During your interview, try and remember that you are being interviewed by another human being. Likely, a human being who knows exactly what it’s like to be sitting where you are right now. Rather than viewing your interviewer as a critic or barrier to success, try and see them as another human being with their own fears, dreams, and individuality; not to mention, a potential future coworker and friend.
In the past, when I was interviewing for my job at the airline, this was one of my top strategies for standing out. With each person who interviewed me, I tried to form a connection in at least one small way; a hobby we both enjoyed, a city we’d both been to, traffic on the drive over. Not only will finding something to connect on and laugh about help you to loosen up and relax, it’ll also give your interviewer a more favorable impression of you.
Smile and Use Positive, Open Body Language
As soon as you step out of the car, you should consider the interview as being started. Yes, even if you are waiting around in a lobby. You never know when you are being watched, and your body language can speak volumes about what’s going on inside your head.
Keep your phone in your pocket and on silent. Even if you are not actively being interviewed, you can’t say for sure whether or not you are being evaluated. This is an opportunity to demonstrate focus and willpower. If you immediately start scrolling through social media, you'll appear disinterested or, even worse, easily distracted.
When meeting the interviewer, it’s important to smile often and use positive, open body language. The reason for this goes beyond just giving a good first impression. Studies find that smiling actually helps to reduce stress. Our brain takes smiling as a cue: If the body is smiling, clearly all is well there’s no reason to feel anxious.
Use Effective Coping Mechanisms for Job Interview Anxiety
If we ever do start to lose control of our job interview anxiety, we can reel it back in with some simple coping mechanisms. We talk about such coping mechanisms quite often elsewhere on the site, but here are a few simple relaxation techniques:
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (tense and release of various muscle groups)
- Mindfulness Meditation Exercises
- Breathwork Techniques (like 478 breathing mentioned earlier)
- Think Through the Situation with Yourself Logically
Practice Makes Perfect
Job interview anxiety hits home for most of us because we don’t often have to go on job interviews. If this was something we did more often, it wouldn’t be intimidating.
Pro Tip: Practicing this skill more often really would make it less intimidating.
When we repeatedly expose ourselves to our fears, we realize we never had anything to fear in the first place. You’ve probably heard the old wisdom: “The best time to apply for a job is when you already have one.” That's definitely the truth!
Don’t wait until you’ve lost your job to practice your job interview skills. If you sense a big change coming up, or want one, start applying to jobs right away! And don’t just apply to your one “dream job.” The more jobs you apply to, the less pressure you feel on each interview; and the better you sharpen your skills as an interviewee.
You’ve got this!