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Don't Let Nerves Get in the Way: How to Control Your Anxiety During an Interview

Posted on 11 May, 2023

Whether you are having an in-person, remote or telephone job interview they are stressful experiences, even for the most experienced professionals. The pressure to make a good impression, answer questions correctly and demonstrate your skills and experience can lead to anxiety and stress that can negatively impact your performance. However, with the right mindset and preparation, you can easily control your nerves and ace your interview. In this article, we'll explore some simple but effective techniques to help you manage anxiety during an interview, so you can present yourself with confidence and composure.

Understanding Anxiety and Its Effects During an Interview

It's natural to feel nervous before an interview, but it's important to understand how anxiety can affect your performance. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking and a racing heartbeat, which can be distracting and make it hard to focus on the interview questions. Anxiety can also make it difficult to think clearly, remember important details and communicate effectively, which can negatively impact your chances of getting the job.

One way to understand anxiety is to recognise that it's a normal reaction to stress. Your body's "fight or flight" response is designed to protect you from danger, and anxiety is a natural response to perceived threats. However, in an interview situation, this response can be counterproductive, as it can lead to nervousness and distraction. The key is to recognise when anxiety is getting in the way and take steps to manage it.

Preparing for an Interview to Minimise Anxiety

One of the best ways to control anxiety during an interview is to prepare thoroughly beforehand. The more you know about the company, the role and the interview process, the less anxious you're likely to feel. Here are some tips for preparing for an interview:

  • Research the company: Learn about the company's mission, values and culture. Look at their website, social media and news articles to get a sense of what they do and how they operate.
  • Review the job description: Make sure you understand the role and the qualifications they're looking for. Identify your strengths and experiences that match the job requirements.
  • Prepare answers to common interview questions: There are certain questions that almost always come up in interviews, such as "tell me about yourself" and "what are your strengths and weaknesses?" Prepare thoughtful, concise answers to these questions beforehand.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Practice your interview skills with a friend or family member. Ask them to ask you tough questions and give you feedback on your answers.

Techniques to Control Anxiety Before and During an Interview

There are several techniques you can use to control anxiety before and during an interview. These techniques can help you stay calm, focused and confident throughout the process. Here are some techniques to try:

Mindfulness Exercises to Reduce Anxiety

Mindfulness exercises can help you stay present and focused during an interview. One simple exercise is to focus on your breath. Take a few deep breaths and focus on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath. This can help calm your nerves and keep you centred.

Visualisation Techniques to Calm Nerves

Visualisation can be a powerful tool for managing anxiety. Before the interview, take a few minutes to visualise yourself in the interview room, answering questions confidently and making a good impression. Imagine yourself feeling calm and confident and visualise the interview going well. This can help reduce anxiety and boost your confidence.

Breathing Exercises to Relax and Stay Focused

Breathing exercises can help you relax and stay focused during an interview. One technique is to take a deep breath in, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly. Repeat this a few times to calm your nerves and clear your mind.

Tips for Staying Present and Focused During the Interview

During the interview, it's important to stay present and focused. Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • Listen carefully to the interviewer's questions: Make sure you understand the question before answering. Take a few seconds to gather your thoughts before responding.
  • Speak slowly and clearly: Take your time when answering questions. Speak slowly and clearly and try not to rush your answers.
  • Use positive body language: Smile, make eye contact, and sit up straight. This can help convey confidence and make a good impression.
  • Take breaks if needed: If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths or ask to take a short break.

Strategies for Answering Interview Questions Confidently

Answering interview questions confidently is key to making a good impression. Here are some strategies to help you do that:

  • Focus on your strengths: When answering questions, highlight your strengths and experiences that match the job requirements.
  • Use specific examples: Use specific examples from your past experiences to illustrate your skills and abilities.
  • Be honest: Don't try to exaggerate or lie about your experiences. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Ask questions: Asking thoughtful questions about the company and the role can demonstrate your interest and engagement.

How to Handle Unexpected Anxiety During an Interview

Even with preparation and practice, unexpected anxiety can still arise during an interview. If this happens, try to stay calm and use some of the techniques we've discussed to manage your anxiety. Take a few deep breaths, focus on your breath and try to clear your mind. Remember, it's normal to feel nervous during an interview and the interviewer is likely to be understanding.


In conclusion, anxiety during an interview is common, but it doesn't have to derail your chances of landing the job. By understanding how anxiety works and using some simple techniques to manage it, you can present yourself with confidence and composure. Remember to prepare thoroughly, stay present and focused, and answer questions confidently. With practice and preparation, you can overcome anxiety and ace your next interview.

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