How to cope with interview anxiety

Michelle gives her tips on how to deal with nerves before interviews

Written by Michelle O'Connor


I’ve always been nervous for interviews, and that’s a fairly normal reaction to entering a room where people are going to assess you. And not in a medical capacity. The reason for this is probably due to the fact that I’m very bad at pretending to be something I’m not. As such, interviews are always daunting because I feel as if I am expected to fit a particular mould depending on what the job is, and sometimes that mould is of ‘young professional’.

One of the main causes of my anxiety before an interview is the fact that I’m both bad at geography and bad at being on time. I think these worries are most likely ones other people share too – what if you get lost on your way and end up super late, will it mess up your chances before you even get there? I kill both of these birds with one stone: I tell myself my interview is an hour earlier than it is, and when I get off the bus, I go directly to the place, find it, and then go and get a coffee. I return approximately 53 minutes later.

The other things that help me remain calm-ish are:

  • Not drinking too much coffee before the interview
  • Bringing the job description with me
  • Bringing my cover letter with me
  • Wearing comfortable, but appropriate clothes
  • Sipping water
  • Chewing gum

These things might not work for everyone, but what I find works the most is dressing in clothes that are comfortable. I don’t mean jeans and a t-shirt comfortable, but something that you feel like yourself in. Perhaps your best self, your most professional self, but still yourself. If you’re uncomfortable in what you’re wearing and struggling not to tug it and pull it, then you’re not going to be comfortable selling your skills to strangers. This goes down to the shoes too – it is blatantly obvious when you are wearing your “best” shoes that you feel are hobbling you as you take every step. Don’t wear those, or if you are going to wear them; put them on just as you go in the door of the building.

If you do decide to chew gum to calm you down, remember to throw it out before you get to the interview; no one likes the look of someone chewing gum while they’re talking to you. I think the main thing to remember is that the people interviewing you are human, too. You made it as far as the interview stage because your CV and cover letter impressed them. Not everyone who applies for a job makes it that far, and knowing that you were chosen should give you confidence in yourself and your abilities.

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