Interview tips

Career Center Confidential: How to Manage Interview Stress

We asked a professional career coach about the best tips for managing interview stress.

Congrats! You received an interview offer – Success! The interviewers have already determined you’re qualified so that’s a boost from the start. You might be feeling some stress around how to prepare and how to calm those interview-day jitters. Consider some of these techniques to deal with that stress:

The Lead-Up

  1. They are interviewing you because of your skills and strengths. Quell some of your nerves by understanding the job responsibilities and how your strengths match up to those responsibilities. You can’t prepare for every single question you might get but you can fully understand the job and how you can accomplish the work.
  2. Practice your answers out loud, especially “tell me about yourself” and “why do you want to work here?” Get comfortable with answering questions out loud and know you can take a pause before you start answering the question to collect your thoughts.
  3. Reduce environmental stressors and prep logistics the day before. Plan how to get to the interview by doing a test run or make sure you have the proper software on your computer. Set up your space, somewhere quiet with a fully charged battery, headphones, and some water.

Day of

  1. Breathe and make sure you have eaten. Fuel yourself with something light to eat beforehand so you don’t get light headed. When you feel yourself getting nervous, pause and take a few slow, calming breaths. Some doctors recommend breathing in for a four-count, holding for two, breathing out for four, and repeating for a minute or two.
  2. Get in the right mightset. Power pose, give yourself a pep talk, think positively. Talk yourself up to yourself! Instead of saying “I’m nervous or anxious,” say “I’m excited” or “I’m centered.” Remember they’ve already decided you’re qualified. Now they want to hear more and learn about who you are as a person! Let your personality shine.
  3. Get some fresh air or movement, listen to your favorite music, or listen to a relaxation app. What have you done in the past to calm your nerves? Some people go for a walk, others like to listen to their favorite hype music. Pick what makes you feel calm and happy. 
  4. Finally, think of this as a conversation, a learning experience, a way to connect with new people, people who are probably interested in the same things as you and have the same passions for work. That’s exciting!

It’s completely normal to feel nervous or stressed before an interview. You’re human! And remember that you’re talking to people who are just as excited about talking to you as you are to talk with them. Good luck!

About the author:

Nicole Kolt (she/her) is the Associate Director of Career Coaching in George Washington University’s Center for Career Services. She works with students from all year and alumni post-graduation with a focus on multi-industry strategy.