How to Calm Your Interview Nerves

4 minute read

If you’re feeling anxious about an upcoming job interview, you’re not alone. Whether you’re hoping to land your first job or you have decades of experience, it’s completely normal to get the jitters. But don’t despair―there are steps you can take to reduce stress and increase your confidence. Read on for our tips to master those interview nerves. 


Before the interview

Prepare effectively

Let’s start by stating the obvious: interview preparation is key. The better you prepare, the smaller the chance you’ll be caught off-guard by a tough question. Make sure you’ve thoroughly researched the charity you’re applying to. And while you can’t anticipate every eventuality, you can get a step ahead by preparing for the hardest interview questions 

But how you prepare is important too. Scripting and memorising answers verbatim isn’t the most effective approach―trying to remember them word-for-word in the interview can add to your stress. And overly rehearsed, fixed responses will give you less flexibility. The questions you’re actually asked might be slightly different from what you expect. So it’s better to be ready with a set of examples that can be tailored to whichever questions are thrown at you. 


Get on top of the practicalities 

Plan the logistics well ahead of time. If it’s an in-person interview, make sure you know exactly where the office is and allow plenty of time to get there, so that you avoid the panic that comes with rushing. If it’s a video interview, make sure your tech is ready, your background is tidy and you have a quiet space to take the call.  

Either way, it’s important to look smart. Plan what you’ll wear, dress to impress―and if you need a haircut, now’s the time to do it! Looking and feeling your best can really help with your confidence at interview. 


Do some exercises

Are pre-interview nerves still getting the better of you? Get rid of that nervous energy by exercising beforehand―a walk, run, swim or gym session can do wonders. You could also try some relaxation techniques. There are plenty of free resources that can help, such as these tips from Mind or these breathing exercises from the NHS. 

How to Calm Your Interview Nerves

During the interview

Keep your perspective

From the moment you secure an interview, it’s easy to build it up in your mind into a high-stakes, all-or-nothing situation. You may start to feel that you absolutely have to get this job. But if you put too much pressure on yourself on the day, it can make the whole experience quite overwhelming.  

By being mindful, you can keep a good deal of interview nerves at bay. You may find it helpful to have a mantra that you repeat inwardly to centre yourself. Keep reminding yourself that it’s only an interview. If you don’t get this job, it wasn’t meant to be, and there are plenty of other vacancies out there. Approach it as an interesting new experience and a personal development project, and you might even end up enjoying yourself.  


Take your time

One concern is often at the root of interview nerves: What do you do if your mind goes blank?  

It can happen to us all. But if it does, it needn’t be the end of the world. Give yourself a little time to reflect. Take a sip of water. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question, or ask for a moment to think about your answer. There’s no shame in showing careful deliberation rather than rushing in and rambling, which can suggest that you’re underprepared. Pausing before you speak can be a sign of confidence. 

If you’re really stuck, you could ask to move on and come back to the question later. As you progress through the rest of the interview, the discussion might spark a thought that triggers your memory. 

How to Calm Your Interview Nerves

After the interview

Reflect and debrief

The event itself may be over, but a different type of interview nerves can kick in afterwards. It’s understandable to worry about how it went, and what the recruiter’s decision will be. A lot of advice says don’t dwell on it―and it’s true that you can’t change whatever happened. But some people find that actively reflecting on something for a period helps them to process it and move on. You may want to call a trusted friend or family member and chat it through. 

You could also make a list of the questions you were asked, and what went well. This is good preparation for if you’re invited to a second interview (or if you’re unsuccessful and need to apply for something else). By gathering learnings, you’ll feel you’ve taken something positive and useful away from this interview already, regardless of the outcome. You can then put it aside and get on with something else. 


Reward yourself

Make sure you do something immersive and fun to unwind and take your mind off the interview. You’ve put the work in, so now it’s time to treat yourself! Dinner with friends, sport, a cinema trip or TV boxset―do whatever relaxes you. You could even plan this before the interview. It’ll give you something to look forward to, and is another way to keep your mind focused on happy thoughts.


Your interview nerves may never fully go away. Remember, some adrenaline can be beneficial―it keeps you sharp! And the recruiter will understand if you’re a little nervous, because it shows that you care. But following the tips we’ve laid out should make the whole experience that bit easier. 

Ready to put this into practice? Browse jobs and apply today. 

Tomas René

Tomas is Senior Content Manager (maternity cover) at CharityJob.

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