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Staying Calm During the Job Interview: Is It Even Possible?

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Among the many nerve wracking experiences in this world, the job interview is definitely one of the worst. Walking into a room with people you do not know with the sole intent of impressing them enough to get a job is one of the most daunting things a person can be tasked with. The job interview asks many things of you – it requires you to market yourself well, stay truthful to the experiences listed on your resume, come off the right way to your potential employers, and, most difficult of all, remain calm. Staying cool and collected in a situation that asks so much of you at once can feel like a really unfair expectation. And, honestly, it is. But, until the workforce figures out a better way to hire employees, it looks like we’re stuck with the old fashioned interview. 


So, how do you remain calm? Is it even possible? Well, short answer: yes. Long answer: we are all different and handle stress in different ways. What works for you may not work for someone else. However, there are a few ways to prepare yourself that may be beneficial regardless of how you process stress.


  • Study Your Resume

You know how they always tell you not to lie on your resume? Yeah, that’s for the best. This is because up until the point where you walk into the room, your resume is the only tool your interviewer has to get to know you. Your interview is your chance to breathe life into the experiences you’ve listed there. Think of some anecdotes from the jobs listed that demonstrate certain qualities. Look at the skills you have chosen to put on your resume. Are there any stories or experiences you could share in which you showcased or grew in those skills? It’s one thing to know what you put on your resume, and it’s another thing entirely to know why you put it there and what you would like the interviewer to pick up on. Give your resume a little look over. Become familiar with it, pick a few things that you are most confident about, and find ways to highlight those things throughout your interview.


  • Expect the Worst to Expect the Best

Anxiety is a major bully. It sits in the back of your brain and teases all of the worst possibilities. One way to shut down these possibilities is by preparing for them. Oftentimes, rehearsing an out in less than ideal situations makes those impending situations less scary. For instance, let’s say that your anxiety is telling you that you are going to stutter and your mind is going to go blank during your interview. Counter your anxiety by asking it what the worst outcome could be. Say you do stutter a bit or go blank for a few seconds. Generally speaking, most interviewers are pretty understanding when it comes to the nerves that an interview can bring about. They shouldn’t penalize you for taking a moment to collect your thoughts and breathe. In fact, they may even see it as a sign of maturity (because it is). If, by some chance, your interviewer is not willing to let you collect yourself for a few seconds, then perhaps that is not a workplace that you want to be a part of. Following your negative or anxious thoughts through to conclusion can sometimes show you that the worst possible outcomes are not quite as bad as you thought. Analyze what your anxiety is trying to tell you, and fight back by making a plan for how you are going to handle that situation. The more prepped you feel for all the possibilities, the less you have to worry about them.


  • Think of Some Practice Questions

One of the most common and most effective methods of handling nerves is practice. Whether it be by yourself in your room, with a friend, or with a professional, getting comfortable in your body and words prior to the interview is always a good feeling and effective tactic. While each job interview will showcase unique questions, many of the questions are similar and guessable if you are a seasoned job interviewee. Make yourself a list of some generic interview questions and take a moment to thoughtfully and honestly respond to them. Practice saying it out loud. Think about the way you want to tell your story and map out the techniques you can use to get there. This is where having a friend or professional mentor can be helpful. Asking for feedback on your public speaking is not only practically useful, but also very good for calming nerves. So, do a test run or two. Give yourself the freedom of going into the interview knowing what to expect from yourself.

Interviews are scary, and, truthfully, that doesn’t really change regardless of how much experience you have with them. But, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone at all. The people on the other end of the interview have been in your shoes before. They get how nerve wracking it can be. Give yourself the time and space to conquer your nerves through preparation and confidence building. It may not make your anxiety completely disappear, but it will give you the confidence to fight back.