Skip to main content

How to deal with interview stress

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 2 Nov 2022

Dealing with interview stress

Sometimes, it can feel pretty impossible to avoid the nerves that come before an interview. So the point in this article is to give you advice on how to handle the nerves, not just get rid of them altogether. Because we all know, that’s not very likely. 

Stress can be a normal part of job seeking, more often than not, it’s the result of over-thinking a situation. However, stress and nerves before an interview isn’t always a bad thing. It’s a sign that you are interviewing for a role you may really want and you can use your nerves to motivate you. It’s not going to be the same situation for everyone, but you can use this article for advice on how to handle your stress, be as calm as possible and make sure you have a successful interview. 

Preparation stress

You work hard to get to the interview stage and there is an enormous amount of work that goes into a job search, yet when we are invited to an interview, stress can be felt very instantaneously. 

So, where do you start and how do you go about overcoming these nerves to prepare properly? The reason you might feel stress after an interview invitation is if you haven’t done any research on the company yet. But, this is a quick fix. 

Interview prep takes time and patience, but the key thing can be to figure out what you want to find out, write a list and go from there. Some interview prep can be passed on from other interviews, 

  • Research the company
  • Take the time to analyse the job spec
  • What key points from the job description do you want to include in your answers?
  • Come up with your own questions - what do you want to know?

It can seem like a lot of preparation to do for one interview, which is often why stress and nerves can start to take over. But transfer knowledge from past interviews, take the list one bullet point at a time and just try and take in as much information as you can. It’s important to note that it’s not an exam, no answer is going to be perfect and there isn’t only one response. So do your research, learn and make sure you are not overloading yourself. 

You are allowed a ‘cheat sheet’

One thing that may cause a lot of unnecessary stress, is the idea that you have to memorise absolutely everything. When you are interviewing for multiple jobs at once, it’s physically impossible to know every little thing about the company and remember all the points you wanted to talk about. So from the start, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. You’re only human. 

Plus, you can take a copy of your CV into the interview with you and if it’s a virtual interview, you can have your CV and notes right next to you the whole time. Don’t feel like you can’t use prompts and take notes during an interview, if anything, employers like to see that you are absorbing the information. 

Use your CV, notebook or anything else you might find useful, to your full advantage. There’s no need to try and remember everything when you can have that little bit of help when and if you need it. 

Try to think of it as just a conversation

Interviews can cause stress but what it all comes down to is a conversation. A nice chat between you and another professional, who to be honest, wants you to do well! Sometimes, you may feel yourself getting a little out of control during the conversation and if you need to take a moment, use STOP. 

  • Stop what you’re doing and get back to the point you were trying to make
  • Take a few moments and have a breather
  • Observe what’s going on in this situation, have you gone off track?
  • Proceed with an intention, get back to your point and slow your speech down slightly

It can be really easy to speak really fast and forget our main point. Nerves are a powerful thing and we can’t predict what they’ll make us do. So when you feel yourself acting on your nerves, STOP and take a moment to recalibrate. 

Try and take the edge off the day before

There is no right way to prepare for an interview because we are all so different. The only advice I can give here is to ensure you are as relaxed as possible the day / evening before to ensure you can get the rest you need and be refreshed. Everyone’s lives are different, which is why this statement is subjective. But if you would prefer to have a quiet evening in, looking over your notes to relieve stress then I recommend you do it. Others may prefer time out of the house to forget about their nerves.

Whichever way you prefer, if you can, take some time out to forget about the nerves and start the day fresh and ready for the interview. 

Make sure you have everything

This may seem like an obvious point, but make sure you have everything you need ready before the morning of your interview. It can be very easy to relax and forget something important. 

  • Check you have all paperwork needed and requested from you (The employer will let you know beforehand)
  • If travelling somewhere, make sure you have a travel plan ready
  • If required, get your interview clothes and your travel bag ready
  • Do something relaxing before bed, try to be as rested as possible

Interviews can feel like the most stressful part of a job search, but ultimately, it can be the most important. The best piece of advice I can give is for you to trust in your ability. It’s got you this far already and stress is completely normal. Sometimes, it’s enough to know that it’s not just you going through these emotions. So do what you can to relieve stress before the day of your interview and when you are close to heading to the interview, remain calm, remember it’s just a conversation and take a moment to STOP if you need it. 

Most importantly, good luck!