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Overcoming Interview Nerves: Insights and Techniques

Overcoming interview nerves can be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. We asked twelve professionals, including a Human Potential Facilitator and a CEO, to share their personal experiences and strategies. From shifting your focus to reminding yourself of your skills, discover the diverse ways these experts have learned to stay calm and present their best selves during interviews.

  • Shift Your Focus
  • Prepare and Assess the Company
  • Breathe and Stay Present
  • Accept and Utilize Your Nerves
  • Visualize Success
  • Rely on Performance Enhancement EMDR
  • Recognize Mutual Interest
  • Treat the Company as a Client
  • Change Your Mindset and Simplify the Situation
  • Use Grounding and Positive Affirmations
  • Perform the Superman Stretch
  • Remind Yourself of Your Skills

Shift Your Focus

It can be nerve-wracking to sit in the hot seat at an interview with multiple interviewers. I was auditioning for a role as a mindfulness coach for an executive team that was struggling to form a cohesive team.

When I sat down in front of six of the key players, it was a surprise. I’d only expected the HR manager. It rattled me for a moment, but I remembered two tricks that help me to be fully present with whatever comes. I smiled and asked the lead interviewer a question, which took the focus from me and onto her for a moment.

Then, I took a quiet breath, briefly putting my focus on a spot on the wall behind the lead person and mentally saying, “Just be HERE.” The shift in focus immediately relieved the overwhelm. After that, it was simple to stay present and answer their questions with a sense of presence and stability. I got the gig!

Janet FoutsJanet Fouts
Human Potential Facilitator, Nearly Mindful

Prepare and Assess the Company

Some strategies I use to stay calm and present my best self are preparation, mindfulness, self-encouragement, and visualizing. In order to do well on interviews when I’m nervous, I initially go through the requirements and my qualifications and see where I can give examples of things I did that are similar, or what skills I have that would make me a good match.

After preparing, I do deep breathing before the interviews and imagine what it would be like to work in this company. I go in with questions about the day-to-day, mission, and work culture that would help me do my job well. Remembering, I’m also interviewing them to see if they are a good match with me. If it’s not the right fit, I’ll find something else that might fit better.

Yara Adam-WhiterYara Adam-Whiter
Therapist, Cerebral

Breathe and Stay Present

This tool is incredibly timely to share, especially after just finishing an interview on a fellow entrepreneur’s podcast. As a master life coach, walking the talk is essential. Working with numerous clients who are CEOs and professional leaders in their respective companies, it all comes down to this: being present and breathing.

Whether speaking on camera for interviews, one-on-one to live in-person events, or panels in front of massive crowds, the breath serves as a reminder to be in the moment, to feel being in the body, and to reset any time the mind wanders. It may sound simple, but the breath is incredibly powerful. Inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4. Repeat as many times as needed, keeping the eyes open or closed as preferred.

chad wellerChad Weller
CEO High Performance Coach – MCC, Chad Weller High Performance Life Coaching

Accept and Utilize Your Nerves

As a one-time performer and frequent public speaker, I have certainly experienced the physical and emotional manifestations of nerves prior to engagements. Being in the spotlight—whether onstage or in an interview—causes us to tense up; fear arises, and we feel disengaged from the people with whom we’re interacting, as well as from our ability to be present and at ease in the moment.

Understandably, most people spend their energy trying to resist performance anxiety and to make it go away. Yet, this creates resistance, which tends to make things worse. Instead, the best strategy is to accept that being nervous is a part of the human condition, and to lean into the heightened awareness, increased breathing, and adrenaline rush; to learn to use them to our advantage to augment our performance.

This acceptance and utilization of our increased energy, in addition to frequent practice and interviewing experience, result in our ability to be our best selves, and to put our best foot forward.

Jennifer HamadyJennifer Hamady
Performance Coach, Author and Therapist, Finding Your Voice

Visualize Success

I have personally experienced interview anxiety and found that preparation was key to staying calm and presenting my best self. I made sure to research the company and the role I was interviewing for, and practiced answering common interview questions with a friend or family member.

Additionally, I reminded myself of my strengths and accomplishments, and visualized a successful outcome. Finally, I took deep breaths and focused on staying present in the moment, rather than worrying about the outcome of the interview. By taking these steps, I was able to overcome my nerves and present myself confidently and authentically in the interview.

Kristina RamosKristina Ramos
Reverse Recruiter, Find My Profession

Rely on Performance Enhancement EMDR

As an EMDR therapist, one thing we can do is called performance enhancement EMDR. It’s not very dissimilar to what Olympic athletes do for their training.

In talking with a friend, Chelsea Johnson Hardee, an Austin-based former professional pole vaulter, she said, “The negative thoughts and feelings were inevitable. The secret was learning how to replace them with positive thoughts once they occurred.”

Part of what we do in therapy with clients is working on building a lot of positive resources through EMDR.

In a nutshell, we play the tape of what an upcoming situation might be like and work to embed positive associations with those challenging moments. This could be a graduate exam, an athletic event, or a job interview. Playing this tape enough is like mentally rehearsing the event, but you put in these positive associations that are like power pellets in Pacman, which help you to confidently overcome the obstacles in your path.

William SchroederWilliam Schroeder
Co-Owner, Just Mind

Recognize Mutual Interest

The cornerstone of a successful interview is recognizing that when you receive an interview invitation, the company shares an equal level of interest in you as you do in them. However, maintaining a balanced demeanor is crucial, as excessive confidence can lead to unfavorable outcomes during the interview process.

It’s worth understanding that adequate preparation, including researching the company’s activity, showcasing genuine enthusiasm for the position, and exuding self-assuredness, represents a skill set possessed by merely 10% of candidates.

Hanna BorysenkoHanna Borysenko
HR Director, Elai Inc.

Treat the Company as a Client

My strategy was to start thinking of the company as my client. That meant allowing myself to walk away from the interview if I knew I wasn’t a good fit for them.

Compare that to my behavior in the interviews I bombed: I oversold myself, pretended I was competent in areas that I wasn’t, and was too eager to please.

I had a long gap in my employment. I really needed a job. But my desperation and employment gap raised red flags. I knew that, of course, and it contributed to my nervousness even further.

Finally, I treated my next interview as a prospective client in my imaginary consulting business. They needed my services, but I wouldn’t close the sale if I wasn’t 100% certain I could help them.

This mindset got me to calmly ask questions about parts of the role I found most intriguing—which happened to be a particular web app I had used in my previous position. In the end, that was the area of expertise they needed most, and I knew I could give them what they needed.

Chad DavisChad Davis
Writer, Editor, Content Marketer,

Change Your Mindset and Simplify the Situation

I tend to overthink, a habit that affects me most before interviews. I always used to get very nervous, worrying about possible trick questions and my talking points. This often led to self-sabotage. During the actual interview, my heightened nerves would make me either go silent or talk too much.

With time, I realized that while I couldn’t fix the worrywart in me, I could change my mindset. I started mentally assuring myself before interviews that worrying about potential problems would not improve the outcome. Indeed, I might stutter or go blank when asked a question. But, in truth, this was just a simple conversation I was having where the interviewer was learning about me, just as I was about their company.

So, take the fear out of the situation, e.g., what happens if I botch the interview? “Well, it hasn’t happened yet. And if it does, you will have other opportunities.” I find that if I think about things in this way, I can relax, which is really helpful for interviews.

Loretta KildayLoretta Kilday
DebtCC Spokesperson, Debt Consolidation Care

Use Grounding and Positive Affirmations

Once, I had an interview for a role I was eager to land but felt underqualified for. Previous rejections fed my anxiety. On that day, nerves were high. I remember my hands shaking as I entered the room.

To calm myself, I used a mindfulness technique called grounding. I focused on my senses—the cool air in the room, the firm grip of the chair beneath me. This brought me back to the present moment, away from my anxious thoughts.

Next, I employed positive affirmations. Silently, I told myself, “I am capable. I am prepared.”

The interview began, and to my surprise, I found myself answering with confidence. The grounding exercise and affirmations had worked.

I left the room feeling relieved and proud, regardless of the outcome. Days later, I received the job offer. This experience taught me the power of mindfulness and positive self-talk in overcoming interview anxiety.

Jo LarsenJo Larsen
Growth Blogger, Jo Larsen

Perform the Superman Stretch

One thing that has helped me ease nerves when interviewing is by doing the “Superman Stretch” before interviews.

The “Superman Stretch” is a simple and effective yoga pose that can help you overcome nerves and reduce anxiety by promoting relaxation and deep breathing. This stretch helps open up your chest and improve your posture, which can have a positive impact on your overall sense of confidence and well-being.

To do the stretch, simply stand like Superman in a mirror, up straight, hands on hips, and take a few deep breaths.

Peter ReaganPeter Reagan
Financial Market Strategist, Birch Gold Group

Remind Yourself of Your Skills

Having played the roles of both entrepreneur and employee, I’ve dealt with interview jitters. My go-to move is reminding myself that I landed the interview thanks to my skills and qualifications—a confidence booster.

A piece of valuable advice I always like to pass on is this: embrace your abilities and let your confidence shine through—these aspects are critical for achieving success in any interview setting.

Eran MizrahiEran Mizrahi
CEO and Founder, Ingredient Brothers

Submit Your Answer

Would you like to submit an alternate answer to the question, “Share a personal experience where you had to overcome interview nerves or anxiety. What strategy did you use to stay calm and present your best self?”

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